By Nick De Leeuw
Debates and discussions over education curriculum and standards seem a lot more important to me these days, with our oldest getting ready for kindergarten in the fall… and in light of a recent experience with students from the local public junior high school.
I spend my Wednesday nights hanging out with 6th, 7th and 8th grade boys at what we call “Wild Nights,” a weekly after-school program for junior high students at my home church. We hang out, shoot hoops, have a hot meal, listen to loud music – if I hear 50 kids screaming the lyrics to “Ride” one more time I might never get the song out of my head—and spend a few minutes talking about things bigger than ourselves.
And we’ve played a lot of Rock Band and Guitar Hero. Mostly because I’m not half bad, and kids are easily impressed by anyone who can put together a 100 note streak on “expert.” (#Bragging)
So it was a pretty ordinary Wednesday, rocking out to Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger,” and I make an off-hand comment to the fellas.
“Eye of the Tiger. The song that helped win the Cold War.” (I don’t care what Joe says, Rocky IV is fine, fine cinema.)
Someone hits pause, and three of them turn around, look me in the eye, and say something that haunts me even as I type.
“What are you talking about, Nick? We’re studying the Cold War right now in history class. Our book says nobody won the Cold War.”
Clearly these guys had never seen Drago hit the canvas. Or, you know, been given an accurate history book.
I’m the dad of two awesome, incredible, undoubtedly gifted boys. (I know everyone thinks their kids are special but mine really are.) Academic rigor rates high on my priority list these days, with kindergarten around the corner. So do silly things like facts, and truth, and curriculum that isn’t full of complete nonsense.
You might be able to fool kids born after 2001, curriculum writers of America, but you can’t fool me. I’m a man. I’m almost 40. I’m old enough to remember the Cold War, and to know somebody won the darn thing. (USA! USA! USA!)
I asked the guys… “does the USSR still exist?” “Well, no.”
Me: “Does the United States of America still exist?”
Me: “You think maybe somebody won the Cold War?”
Them: “That’s not what our teacher said.”
Now, I’m a public school guy. I attended public schools my entire life. My dad was a public school teacher (among a great many other things). My sister is a public school teacher. We plan to send our boys to the local public schools.
But darn it all if I won’t be personally reading their history textbook, cover to cover, at the beginning of each school year—and making corrections as I go.
And in the meantime, I’m suddenly finding those state House and Senate Education Committee hearings a whole lot more interesting.
By Nick De Leeuw
April 7, 2017