Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Schoolyards are just full of 'Charlie Browns'

The problem described below is an old one and the Leftist response is to eradicate as far as possible all distinctions between the achievements of different children. This is however to found a policy on a lie. That comes easily to Leftists but a healthier response is clearly needed. I thought therefore that I might mention that I am rather clumsy physically and was therefore spectacularly bad at all school sporting activities in my youth. As a consequence I was rather socially isolated (though not unhappy) at school. But "nerds" often do well in later life (look at Bill Gates) and I have certainly done so. The clear strategy for genuinely kind people therefore is not to ignore differences in ability but to stress to all that sometimes in the long run "the last shall be first" (Mark 10:31). Just the thought that the jock might one day be asking the nerd for a job should have considerable effect

Charlie Brown, the sad and loveable loser, is a real character in many school playgrounds, psychologists say. In the American comic strip Peanuts, sensitive Charlie is never able to kick a football, fly a kite or win at baseball. He is of often ridiculed by his classmates, made the butt of jokes and called "blockhead". Now a Canadian study has found that Charlie Brown's problems are true to life. Children appear to place a great deal of value on athletic ability, and those with a reputation for lacking such skills often experience sadness, isolation and social rejection.

Dr Janice Causgrove Dunn, of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, said: "For both boys and girls, we found that popular children reported less loneliness and received higher athletic ability ratings from their peers than rejected children. "Conversely, the kids who reported higher levels of loneliness tended to receive lower athletic ability ratings and lower social acceptance ratings from their peers."

The findings are published in the latest issue of the Journal of Sport Behaviour. Previous research has shown that loneliness in childhood and adolescence is often associated with psychosocial and emotional problems. Prolonged loneliness has the potential to undermine seriously an individual's psychological, emotional and physical wellbeing.


Hypocrite or realist?

Washington, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty has taken full control over his city's long suffering public schools. But he sends his own twin girls to a private school. Does that make him a hypocrite? A bad mayor? Or, perhaps, just a good father?

Fenty is not alone. Many big city mayors educate their kids privately. A far greater percentage of public school teachers -- especially in urban areas -- send their own kids to private schools than does the general public. And a 2003 survey of members of Congress found that 41 percent of U.S. representatives and 46 percent of U.S. senators now send or have sent at least one of their children to a private school.

Granted, there is hypocrisy at work. Many of these folks stump for public schooling, opposing systems of private school choice. And yet, they choose to opt out of the system they allegedly shore up . . . from competition. The kind they themselves rely upon.

Years ago, during a campaign, Fenty pledged to send his kids to public schools. So, if voters want to hold that against him, they have every right to do so. My point is only that had Fenty -- or any politician or educator -- made the opposite decision, wouldn't that be even worse? Mayor Fenty's choice boils down to this: Should he put the public schools ahead of his own children? Or should he put his children ahead of the public schools? Which would you put first?


1 comment:

Christian said...

I live in DC and it truly irks me that politicians work so hard to deny choice to citizens while they opt out of lousy schools. DC has a voucher system, but it is under attack by the Democrats in Congress. Some of these same folks refuse to send their children to public schools because they know how wretched they are. As much as I would like to just blame the politicians, I wonder why parents tolerate this? Every year many complain about the public schools, but they still send their children there. Perhaps there needs to be a true uprising by parents. A majority need to demand choice and refuse to send their children to public schools until they get it. Yes, this is quixotic idealism at its best, but one can dream, can't he?