Earlier today, I had an experience that I couldn't help but connect to the reality of school today. I've re-drafted the events, to highlight the parallels I drew to how our education system often fails to meet the needs of students in distress.
The Student: The wide-eyed deer in this story, plays the part of the struggling student. Buck, like many modern pupils, doesn't fit into the mold of the academic student; and although he was in obviously out of his element, he had no alternative but to go where he didn't really belong... to the classroom.
The Guidance Counselor: On the road in front of me, was a driver who insisted on traveling at 20 km below the speed limit. Like many educators, calmly doing what they've always done, the driver felt no compulsion to change gears. When the deer shot across the road barely avoiding this vehicle, the driver seemed not even to notice. As we encounter those with the need for alternate 'real world' experiences, are we not often at a loss as to how to proceed?
The Classroom: When the incident originally occurred, I watched Buck run headlong through the glass doorway of what I later discovered to be a travel agency. Rather than looking for an opportunity read and write in preparation for his future, this deer came looking for short-cuts to his final destination. Like many of our students without the 'I-do-school-good' gene, it's no surprise that the travel agents were unable to accommodate his needs.
The Chaos In the Classroom: In speaking to the novice travel agent (It was her first day on the job!), I was reminded of a teacher expecting appropriate classroom behavior. Although she could clearly describe how Buck was misbehaving inside the 'classroom', she was at a loss as to how to proceed. The deer literally ran into; dove under; and lept over the desks in the room clearly indicating the need for an alternate learning opportunity. Those in the room knew he was in distress, but were at a loss as to how to help.
The Graduation: After making a ruckus, the deer chose to exit on its own terms. This early-leaver, knew that school wasn't for him, and as soon as he knew he could get out, the deer boldly left the premises, never to look back. The observant educators knew that his needs had to be met elsewhere, but when the need was most pressing, they felt powerless to provide the opportunity.
The Yearbook: As with many early-leavers, we may never know where this deer eventually ended up. Having missed his yearbook photo, at least this deer blazed a trail from which his teachers might learn. Sadly, Buck's experience with the system as it exists today, will likely convince him to home school his own children.