Friday, November 20, 2009

POOP: Parents Obsessively Overprepping (little) People

I'm part of a parenting message board--the same one responsible for the children's literature debate--and found myself floored this morning by the following query:

"Has anyone used any books, programs or software tools to prepare for GATE (Gifted and Talented Education)?"

If you're not familiar with GATE, it's the program in California public schools that separates out the high-achieving and under-achieving kids and puts them in higher level classes. Around 3rd grade you take the test, if your parents so desire, which should assess your given IQ and tell educators whether you belong in the class.

I'm not sure what bothers me more: that children who are not necessarily at that level will be "snuck" into those classes, or the fact that their parents are willing to push them into preparing for a test at the tender age of eight--a test that, if it really does test your IQ, shouldn't require any prep at all.

Both B and I were in GATE, and I guess my general assumption is that our kids will be too, but I only want them there if that's what's best for them, if that's where they fit and could get the education they need/deserve. The thought of parents prepping kids for this test the way an adult boosts their score on the GRE is absolutely nauseating. Sorry to all the parents out there who might feel differently. I understand that you want your kid in the best class--I think most parents want the best for their children--and that some kids test more poorly than others (although I think prepping for test taking is different than prepping for a test). Seriously: when did we start treating our kids like little adults? I can remember taking that test, thinking that it was kind of strange and unfamiliar in a "boy, aren't grown-ups weird?" sort of way. I didn't really know what I was going in for and I didn't care after I left. My mom and I went somewhere fun--somewhere for kids--and that was that. It makes me sad to think of some poor kid cramming for the test, stressing out about it, then sitting around waiting for the score with their overobsessive parent. It's like taking the SAT nine years early. It's bad enough when you finally get to that point. Do you really have to treat your kids to that any earlier?

Okay, sorry. It's really too early for soapbox ranting. Feel free to read me the riot act on how I'm overreacting and how test prep is never a bad thing and how much that test could affect a kid's education. I know. Maybe I'll see the point when I'm a little less angry. Right now, I'm ready to take my kids into the playroom and let them be kids.

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