Ronald Reagan, did you know his favorite food was jelly beans? A third grader named Joe does. For a presentation on former US President Reagan, Joe had to research everything about Reagan's life, or so it seemed; certainly this 9 year old knows more than most adults do about this man--or any past president. He needed to find out about his childhood, his time spent in the movies, and his time spent in and out of office, and then present it to his fellow third graders. Everyone in his class did this with a different president, and the really famous ones like Washington weren't allowed. Earlier this year the class did an in-depth report on national parks which included knowing the location, square footage, history, and animal habits, more even. A word on a recent spelling test was "picturesque," which Joe's 16 year old sister had a hard time even pronouncing. I must point out, this class is a "gifted" class, but that should mean they're learning at a 4th grade level, not at a 12th grade one. I know for a fact that average high school seniors do not have projects like this.
When these kids are being prepared for universities before they even make it to middle school, we have to ask ourselves: are we pushing kids too much to achieve in school? Are we expecting too much? Should 5th graders really be smarter than us--should they have a show proving it? And how much stress are we giving these children, pressuring them to get good marks and achieve now so they can do well in life later on?
Let kids be kids, because once you're grown there's no turning back time.