Potentially Lost

I was born in Germany where I started school at the age of four. I completed a year of pre-k, a required milestone in Germany.

The structure was forceful yet individualized and focused. When I was seven I moved to Nebraska. When I started school teachers seemed astounded by my level of intelligence, as if intelligence was to be absent in the mind of a first grader. After a year of ridicule I proceeded to move south to Georgia. When I was in Georgia my teachers were confused as to why I spoke the way I did and why I was in second grade and thirsting for knowledge like a college freshman.

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While attending school in Georgia I was asked twice if I would like to skip a grade and twice I refused. With my second refusal came a new kind of alternative, the gifted program. Once a week I was shipped off to a middle school that was used specifically for courses offered to ‘gifted students’. When I was in sixth grade I moved to Kansas. When I arrived I was greeted with the all too familiar astonishment in the eyes of the teachers.

After a month in the classroom I was again asked if skipping a grade appealed to me and again I reply with a no. I had officially grown tired of the constant astonishment and slight condemning nature the teachers met me with and thus took it upon myself to meet the expectations of unintelligence and incompetence that I had come to believe all American Educators expected. To me it seemed all teachers wanted to think of their students as unintelligent and incapable of exceeding all expectations of ‘average’. Going from an European education structure of personal perfection and that everyone had their own level of intelligence to an the American idea that all students are equally incompetent, unsuccessful, and anyone that exceeds is alienated and isolated, and due to that assumption students cannot full rise to the potential that they have with in them. Kyoko Mori says that American schools provide strategy to attempt ‘perfection’ and that they also allow room for error.

While the schools may provide a strategy, the error margin they allow seems to exceed acceptance levels. Teachers that teach core and other non-AP classes expect a high level of unintelligence among their students. Instead of curbing it to the individual and following a natural pattern, in which each student’s individual “Genius” can emerge at its own pace, like Ralph Waldo Emerson states as the way education should be, while in an American school a student is thought to not only be a faceless person caught in a mass of individuals, but a faceless person caught in a mass of unintelligent individuals. In the eyes of the American educator all high school students could care less about their future and information taught in school and focus more on the ‘popularity’ spectrum. Take for example a literary classroom stand point.

The average literary classroom in an American high school the teacher tends to relay the bare minimum of all information, finding themselves in a position of utter shock when the student produces a remarkable piece. According to Francine Prose the literature that is now being taught in high school, as well as the way it is being taught, stunts the potential value of literary studies of students. The literature in high school seems to be slowly curbed from a pleasurable experience into a sole use of literary learning dissection, thus wringing it of its possibility to quench the students love for reading. Literary teachers tend to dissect the text in such a way as to prevent an overload on the students assuming the students could find it on their own. Since most teachers operate in this matter on many different subjects the level of intelligence in the average American student falls short of that in the European standard.

The assumption of lack of intelligence causes the in ability to access that individual “Genius” that Emerson speaks of. Due to the alienation and assumptions of incompetence students in the American culture have no chance of reaching their full potential.