Blogger has been taking issues with me posting photos, so there will (hopefully) be a post soon with lots of lovely photos of what I've been up to recently. In the meantime, there's something I want to talk about, something that's been on my mind and my heart for a while.
I am intelligent. I know, sounds like I'm boasting, but actually it's just a statement. I am intelligent. I did very well in my exams at the ages of 11, 16 and 18. I speak Spanish fluently, and I see maths like artwork. I love Maths because there's only one right answer, and I love English because there are so many possible answers. I love the beauty I see in the world around me because of science and God, and I love to sew thigns of beauty. My sister is incredibly intelligent, unbelievably intelligent. She has been reading since she was 2, reading adult books and classic literature since she could read. She excels in near enough everything she tries. She puts a lot of effort into learning and developing skills, but she has natural aptitude in academic areas too. In fact, my entire family is intelligent. we're all academic. I am the stupidest of all of us, and I'm intelligent. My family speaks french fairly fluently, and enjoys discussions about politics, the economy, controversial topics, the mechanisms in life, and intangible concepts. They use language that has rarely been heard in the last 2 decades, and joke about the crossover of sounds of words and meanings of words. We enjoy our intelligence, and enjoy learning, and consolidating learning. I don't think my family would disagree with that statement - we take an interest in knowledge and wisdom and understanding.
So why am I made to feel ashamed to speak in college? Why must I feel too embarrassed to contribute to discussions in lectures? The girls all complain about how annoying it is for people who haven't done well academically to be held back by streaming, or teachers, or situations. They talk about being able to do better - indeed, so many of them beat their predicted grades in school. But when they talk about it, they talk about predicted grades of D's and U's. They beat the predictions by getting C's. And that's great. But if I try to agree, or mention the challenges of being at the other end, the pressure of being intelligent and the stress it brings, or the frustration of being held back because you're already in the top set and the teacher has provided nothing more to challenge you - well, I haven't mentioned half of those things, because I've felt too embarrassed, ashamed, guilty. When I have mentioned any of these thigns, I've been shot down, sneered at, or disagreed with that it's not a problem at all, and I should redirect my focus down to the unfairness that they experienced.
I know that this is a practical-based college, that the academic grade expectation is low. But in a society, and particularly in a college, which believes that every child should have their needs catered to, why are mine not? In fact, when I tried to talk about this with a friend in the college, even she shot me down and told me that everyone was catered to, and when I said that only the majority was, she told me that meant everyone was. Not only is that incorrect, but it's also unfair. If you only ever cater to the majority, the minority suffer. In a world that believes 'no child should suffer', why is this ethos allowed to continue even subconsciously? I know that change takes time, and I'm not even saying that I shouldn't take classes with people who are less academic than me.It is great that their needs are catered to, that college is accepting of all, that students with dyslexia, dyscalculia, or cognitive delays have their specific needs catered to. But the emphasis is always on catering to those below the average, never on those above. We challenge below-average children to fill their potential - what about me? What about all my potential that I'm not being challenged to meet? Why is there no provision for helping me to be better, learn more (or anything, as it currently stands)?
I realise I sound like a whiny child. But I am tired of listening with sympathy to people complaining that their below-average needs deserve to be met. Everyone's needs deserve to be met. Yes, you have individual needs if you have dyslexia. Yes, you have individual needs if you have dyscalculia. But guess what? I have individual needs too, that involve me not sitting in lectures or discussions all day every day being bored by having to go over information I have heard 5 times before, that I understood half an hour ago. I have needs that involve me not having to sit silently through discussions because I might upset people by talking about the challenges of being intelligent. If you can talk about how challenging it is to suck at maths, I should be able to talk about the challenges of being incredible at maths, at having a teacher who refers to you to check that her answers are correct, at having to teach yourself your GCSE because you're 6 modules ahead of everyone else.
When will we stop focusing only on the people who can't, and start focusing on the people who can as well?
I can't say any more. I realise this is a rant, and that maybe there is nothing constructive in what I say. I don't know how to solve this problem. Maybe the majority feels that there isn't a problem. And I guess majority rules, right?