School is a place to encourage learning, not stifle it

To the Editor:

Public schools in America have appreciated budget gains for as long as a century. Throughout all these years, no other nation besides Switzerland spends more per pupil and no other nation spends as much on schooling.

Lately, these good-income times are coming to an end, and a stumbling economy also portends less money for schools. And, because of this problem, schools have been cutting programs, and a lot of the programs are enrichment programs.

I am a student in a school district that has enrichment programs on the verge of being cut every year. Enrichment is important in our school and gives me a chance to develop my skills further and experience higher-level thinking.

I can tell you for a fact that it does not help only me. I know other kids who find the subjects they cover in their core classes don’t always challenge them enough. They know that, through enrichment, they have an opportunity to reach and take advantage of their full potential.

Don’t get me wrong, we still do learn in our regular classrooms, but sometimes we want the extra challenge. And, because of a smaller classroom, students can get extra attention on their work. By introducing us to a group of people who think alike, it encourages me to explore new things and allows me to view matters in another perspective, a skill that is valuable throughout life.

What the terms “enrichment” or “gifted” means hasn’t always been clear. According to research, there is no universal definition.

Some say “gifted” is a term used in schools to describe children who have the potential to develop significantly beyond what is expected for their age. And others describe it based on intelligence from test scores.

I believe this academic benefit is not just in the form of knowing more, but in the form of creating a desire to understand information, and a better understanding of how one can truly perceive knowledge. It also gave me a more in-depth knowledge of a topic that I was interested in, such as philosophy, and made learning about this subject enjoyable.

Every year, enrichment is on the list of getting cut at Farnsworth Middle School. I understand times are tough and sacrifices have to be made. But shouldn’t education be the main focus?

I believe that parents, teachers, and principals should understand the importance of the gifted programs. What good would it do to take the students with high potential but keep them limited in growing?

School is a place to encourage learning, not stifle it, a place to nourish creativity and intellectual growth, not force someone to learn at an unnatural pace.

And the opposite is true as well. Having a student who gets impatient and the teacher speeds up the lesson makes it worse for those who need a little extra help.

I understand that, when enrichment is added to the list of programs to be cut, there are also many other activities on the verge of getting cut as well. And so when enrichment is not cut, something else in its place might get cut.

And, although this may be unfair to others, what else is more important than having the students take charge of their education and grow? After all, parents send their kids to school expecting that we will learn and be prepared to live in the real world in the near future.

So kids, if you want opportunities to explore your interests, develop your talents, and challenge yourself to go a step above where you are right now, take a stand. I believe that enrichment is open to anyone.

And, in order to ensure the enrichment activities, we should gather other students to join classes and soon the program will become strong. It would be very hard for the schools administrators to cut enrichment when they see how many students participate in these programs. They will observe and soon realize that taking it away would be a waste.

We should be able to take charge of our education. And to start our journey, enrichment is the way.

Julianne Kim

Slingerlands