"There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."
"If you lavish attention on the man in fine clothes and say, “Here is a seat of honor,” but say to the poor man, “You must stand” or “Sit at my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?"
This morning, I’m going to digress from my usual style of posting Christian and Bible teachings. If you’ve followed my writings for long you are likely aware that my vocational background is quite diverse. Whether it’s farming or clerking or teaching math or pastoring churches, I’ve done all those things. Today’s thoughts are birthed out of my time teaching mathematics and I’ll begin by sharing a story stemming from that part of my vocational experience.
Ruth and I have always preferred living and working in small communities. Two of those tiny schools were small enough that all by myself I was the math department for not just the high school, but the junior high ages as well. It was a challenge teaching all the math for grades 7-12, but the greatest advantage to those situations was that the classes were small and I could get to know my students well. It let me tailor what and how I taught, to the needs and learning styles of my students. In one of those schools there was a young lady (we’ll call her YL for “Young Lady”), a ninth grader, who struggled at learning Algebra 1. She just struggled with grasping even the simple concepts of the course. Yet, as I worked with her I could see plenty of intelligence and potential ability. Her problem was rooted in environmental factors with a negative family situation factoring highest. Being concerned about YL, I consulted with the librarian. She was a smart and capable woman who wore a lot of hats by teaching some classes, managing our computer network, and covering a number of other essential services for our tiny school. She was a person to admire, really, and had been teaching in that school for many years. She knew YL well, having watched her grow up through the grades. However, when I asked my friend the librarian about this young lady, her first response was to tell me that YL had tested low on the IQ scale and that I shouldn’t have such high expectations for her. Well, me being me, I bristled at that and pointed out that IQ scores can be changed and that the problem was more environmental in scope than a matter of ability. I was hoping she would help me find a way to compensate for YL’s issues. I saw YL’s potential, and my librarian colleague had YL pigeonholed as not smart enough. We went around in circles for awhile, but since I was the new kid on the block, my thoughts did not prevail and, eventually, YL was taken out of my class.
I share that story because this whole practice of pigeonholing our young people on the basis of a test that has debatable usefulness is tragic. What made me think of it was an article I read just a few minutes ago discussing that very topic. So, with that introduction, here is a link to that article. And…if your child or grandchild is being categorized in this fashion, maybe now you have a way to make some changes for him or her.