I went to public school, and by most accounts my education was successful. I was gifted, tracked into the hardest courses, and part of the chosen few students, who teachers aggressively attempted to educate.
I was not left in the masses. I was part of a singled out group of students who were labeled as 'somebodies,' which were individuals who displayed above par intelligence or leadership qualities.
This, of course, was determined in Kindergarten. I remember going to a specific room with a metal table and chairs. I was tested by not one individual, but four. Four grown-ups gathered around me, a five year old child, and tested me. I still remember some of the test questions.
Apparently, my success on this test guaranteed my spot in the gifted program for my entire public school career. I was 'in,' despite the first grade sessions in speech therapy and the second grade stint I had in the next to lowest grouping for reading.
Obviously these were flukes because the next year, in third grade, I was back to above average reading and by fifth grade part of a select group of seven individuals who were told to read and discuss with our teacher a novel, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh, in lieu of the standard reading text. The rest of the class worked through their standard reading text quietly, while the select seven of us were taught how to pull apart a plot, analyze characters, and learn literary devices.
In eighth grade, I was part of the newly formed advanced math class. We would be tracked to take Algebra in eighth grade, and by eleventh grade we were into Calculus. There was a dozen of us.
For senior year, I took almost all AP classes, earning straight A's and college level credits. Our classes were small with the same students. I thought this was the norm for all students. It never occurred to me to ask my friends in other tracks.
After completing twelfth grade, I graduated in a class of about 250 students.
A successful education, right? Perhaps.
Will it surprise you to know, I was not taught evolutionary ideas until high school? In first grade, our teacher taught us Creation, at a public school. Not one science class taught evolution until Biology in the ninth grade. However, the entire schooling from Kindergarten through senior year was centered around evolutionary ideas.
The most mentally fit were given the best. Preened and prepared for life beyond school, we select few students received the most incredible benefits, while our class mates were tracked differently. One person benefits at what cost to others? What was the average student's experience like? Personally, I'll never really know. I was part of the chosen few.
During the past nine years of homeschooling, I have learned first hand, that a child grows mentally in leaps and bounds during some phases, and during others, progresses at a constant, steady rate. This is normal.
For instance, I have a child who literally taught himself to read phonetically at age four, and another who required remedial help for two years. Though by age 12, there was no difference in their reading abilities. They were reading at the same level by age 12, and both were devouring books written by authors like Tolkien.
Physically, we grow in spurts. We call them growth spurts. We grow mentally in a similar fashion. Through out our lives, our bodies, including our brains, change. What a student's brain is like in Kindergarten is different than what it is like during senior year. All bodies and brains change through developmental phases and spurts.
An Article of Possible Interest:
Growth Cycles of the Brain and Mind