The School Situation
Last autumn I worried about the OLSAT. I didn't worry because I thought my kid was "better" than other kids, but rather because I remember my GATE ("gifted and talented education") fondly, and really hope that my children are given the same opportunity. I hoped my eldest son would be "on his game" the day of the test. I wanted his true ability measured, regardless of the results; however, I feared that maybe he might goof off or otherwise not try his best, possibly losing his sole chance. Talk about pressure.
Luckily, he just thought he was doing a bunch of fun puzzles.
In "my day" - aside from walking to school uphill in the snow both ways and playing for hours with a stick and a piece of string - GATE was in many ways more "inclusive." Sure, we had to take an IQ test to get in, but a good chunk of the class qualified. It was during those GATE sessions that we learned actual "life skills" like balancing checkbooks, how advertising can be quite deceptive, and other topics that both held my interest and ended up teaching me a great deal.
Of course the things we learned in GATE should have been part of the "regular" school curriculum. But even back then without the same heavy dependence on standardized tests, the more interesting things happened in "enrichment" activities while the rather boring stuff happened during "regular" class time. In junior high, we no longer had GATE. I ended up at an independent high school because the public education simply didn't cut it past elementary school. I am thankful for my parents for providing me that opportunity.
Then I grew up, and started worrying about my own kids' education.
I learned that "private" isn't necessarily better than "public" but also that the different public schools vary dramatically.
Continued on the next page
In our old school district, the GATE class was held on a different campus than our home school. One day while preparing for a meeting with my son's Kindergarten teacher, I saw the sole GATE student from our campus waiting for the bus to the other campus. He was still there waiting when my meeting was over. He laughed when I asked him about it, explaining that he ends up missing a lot of school on GATE days since he had to travel to and from the GATE campus. How did that "enrich" him?