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“Socialization” vs. Education
“Socialization” vs. Education

“Socialization” vs. Education

Education Week has, posted on YouTube, a good interview of “Rhea Vance-Cheng, a graduate of the Program for the Exceptionally Gifted, or PEG, at Mary Baldwin College.” I love her answer to the question about missing “that socialization that you might have gotten in a traditional high school environment.” Sweet… Ms. Vance-Cheng got social experiences at Mary Baldwin. She was not held in solitary confinement. What kinds of social experiences would she have had at a “traditional school” that she didn’t have at Mary Baldwin? Are those kinds of “experiences” of any value? Are they positive? What an equivocation in the interviewer’s question!! As if being around failure and stupidity and drugs and illiteracy and anti-intellectuals is real “socialization”??!! As if Ms. Vance-Cheng did not “socialize” or grow socially where she wast??!! As if developing her full potential were less important than being forced to be around people who hate education and hate life??!! We need to value each individual and let each develop to the full…especially when they are going through a sensitive, formative period in their lives. And putting some value on real education would be nice, too… In the story that the Rhea Vance-Cheng interview went with, “Challenging Programs Cater to the Profoundly Gifted” (Education Week; Published Online: June 9, 2009), Sean Cavanagh writes:
“A lot of us were thinking, ‘That girl’s a genius,’ ” recalled Ms. Gwaltney, who’s now 18. “I can’t make it here. I just get good grades.” Overcoming those anxieties is part of the academic and emotional journey for students at the Program for the Exceptionally Gifted, or PEG, at Mary Baldwin College, a women’s institution of 826 undergraduates in western Virginia. The program is one of several around the country that cater to students with superior talents and achievement who are seeking a different, and more academically challenging environment than they would likely encounter even at a specialized academy or magnet program. … In their dorm rooms and over the breakfast table at Mary Baldwin, PEG students skip from topics like “Plato to Shakespeare to nanotechnology, and it’s OK,” she added. “Other people will know what you’re talking about.”
Why isn’t the interviewer worried about Ms. Vance-Cheng and others missing out on an experience like that? Being around decent people and engaging in important conversation are values that should be stressed more, and that capable students should be allowed to have and to develop. Education is about teaching students to reason and preparing them for adult life; it is not primarily about “socialization.”

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