By now, you probably have heard the story of the young man handcuffed and questioned by police because he brought a home-made clock to school.
(CNN)When Ahmed Mohamed went to his high school in Irving, Texas, Monday, he was so excited. A teenager with dreams of becoming an engineer, he wanted to show his teacher the digital clock he’d made from a pencil case.
The 14-year-old’s day ended not with praise, but punishment, after the school called police and he was arrested.
“I built a clock to impress my teacher but when I showed it to her, she thought it was a threat to her,” Ahmed told reporters Wednesday. “It was really sad that she took the wrong impression of it.”
Ken White has a dismal take on it:
Actually nobody thought the clock was a bomb. The school didn’t think it was a bomb. The police admitted they never thought it was a bomb. The police admitted Ahmed never suggested it was a bomb, or that he meant for anyone to think it was anything but a clock. But grown-ups detained, interrogated, arrested, and handcuffed Ahmed because they couldn’t conceive of why a kid would build his own clock:
“We have no information that he claimed it was a bomb,” McLellan said. “He kept maintaining it was a clock, but there was no broader explanation.”
Asked what broader explanation the boy could have given, the spokesman explained:
“It could reasonably be mistaken as a device if left in a bathroom or under a car. The concern was, what was this thing built for? Do we take him into custody?”
In other words, we knew it wasn’t a bomb, but because of circumstances which did not exist (left in bathroom or under car) we should harshly deal with this kid. You see, this guy doesn’t fit the mold: He doesn’t think learning is only on the prescribed schedule set by the state ed. dept. He figures learning is a life pursuit, apparently something which we also do outside of school.
American schools have been factories for more than a century: We group kids by age, keep them to minimum standards of accomplishment, and allow for little innovation.
I used to teach elementary age kids in a regular public school. If a child mastered all the 4th grade math concepts before the end of the year, we would not teach them any fifth grade material. Why? Until the child takes the final state test, we don’t want to clutter his mind with material which would not be on the test. Don’t teach them about volume, when area and perimeter will be the only similar concepts. Don’t teach about multiplying fractions, if they won’t be tested on it, because they could easily confuse the formulas at test time.
Keep the widgets identically trained, and similarly ignorant. We’ve done this for decades, and it does not work. It has made us, and our children less productive and creative.
UPDATE RELATED: Mr. Wizard. Oh, and Bill Nye doesn’t come close to Don Herbert. Nye just lets you sit there and be bombarded with visuals and yelling. It’s great “Let’s Put a Movie On” material for schoolteachers, but it’s pretty much crap. Plus he’s an arrogant jerk.