Follow the Bouncing Ball, Forget the Straining Brain


I attended an academic competition yesterday called Academic Decathlon. The subject of Decathlon this year was Russia and students read, discussed and learned about everything Russian before the competition. Students participated in a 2 day contest that included writing an essay, giving speeches, and displaying knowledge and ability in an interview situation as well as testing in the areas of math, science, social science, language, economics, music and art. Both Individual and team awards were presented to the outstanding students who participated. The Iowa competition this year was hosted by Mount Vernon High School, staffed by volunteers, and well directed by the state Decathlon Board. The board and Mount Vernon High all deserve a well-earned vote of thanks for once again pulling off a complex and fast moving competition. This year around 200 students representing 24 large and small school districts around the state participated at Decathlon.
The Decathlon Competition, this year, was held on the same days as the state girls basketball competition. As I look through the paper, “Iowa Depends on “ this morning I see a headline and front page story on page 1 about the basketball tournament and sub-heads describing 800 pictures on the website and more coverage in the sports section. Yet I find nothing about the academic competition anywhere in the paper and wonder if perhaps when we, as a society, express concern about the direction of our educational systems we need look no further than where our apparent interests and priorities lie.
I am not anti-sports and I understand the team work and hard work that go into a state title but I am also pro-academics and it seems a bit strange and a little like the tail wagging the dog when our society ignores totally a competition that goes to the root purpose of our schools which is demonstration and use of knowledge and understanding and instead glorifies, often in the extreme, extra-curricular activities.
One girl with the ability to bounce a basketball will probably not use that ability to save our world but one girl who knows about our world and demonstrates the ability to use that knowledge and understanding in what is at times a very high pressure competitive situation, just may!

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About safrisri

I have been a teacher since 1971 and have taught at all educational levels from pre-school to college. My college degree is general science which I arrived at after 5 years and 5 different majors. A degree as it turns out, almost as valuable and in demand as one in Neo-Bulgarian Mythology. I have been around education for around 40 years and can remember when teaching was a pleasant, happy and creative job and our schools were the same. My writings will reflect on my past mistakes and successes and what my students have taught me about education.
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One Response to Follow the Bouncing Ball, Forget the Straining Brain

  1. thelastgasp1 says:

    Unfortunately, academic excellence does not sell media (newspapers, TV, radio or magazines) unless it is a scandel, shooting or graft.

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