Guest View: Whine without solutions on athletic balance

The San Benito High softball team has a pregame pep talk prior to last Saturday's title contest against Carlmont.

Whine and complain, moan and groan, it appears that’s all your “Community ‘Insight’ board” can do. Throwing slings and arrows out and never once offering a solution to the problem. I do not even intend to argue about the “intentional deceit” of your editorial.
As you well know the money spent on the “athletic upgrades” to the school were paid for out of the schools general fund and not bond money. But I also understand that to you it’s all one big pool of taxpayer money. What I really want to address is your, as my mom would say “asinine” comment that academics have to be pitted against athletics, and that the school board has somehow “given in” to the “athletic community”.
First of all let’s look at this term academics. I would assume that you are speaking about “core” academic subjects such as Math, English, Social Studies, Science and perhaps “Foreign Languages”. Your quote about underperforming on test scores is accurate, but what you fail to mention is that all but a handful of schools in California underperformed since a new test and new testing format (a computer based test) was given for the first time to last years’ juniors. Even the state department of education only intended to use it as a baseline. Most schools have just only begun the process of getting computers for each student in each classroom to practice the computer skills which are required to actually answer the questions, so even if you know the answer the format may cause you to get it incorrect. What would you suggest are the items that should be bought to support “academics”. Perhaps new classrooms, new labs, more technology, etc. Even if you did this and manned them with “highly qualified” teachers you are still missing the point.
We associate academics with book knowledge, but Harvard professor Howard Gardner has identified 7 intelligences including Interpersonal-which is the ability to interact with others. There are many careers that can be related to this intelligence. Intrapersonal-this is the ability to learn through self-introspection. What a disservice the school system does to these kids by forcing them to learn in “cooperative groups”. Linguistic-the ability to use spoken and written words effectively. Logical-Mathematical-the ability to solve problems and calculate. Musical-people who are very good a rhythm sound and music. Visual-Spacial-people who have the ability to put shapes together, visualize, read maps, etc. Bodily-Kinesthetic-people who have the ability to do complex movements with their bodies, including surgeons, mechanics, etc. There is also an 8th intelligence sometimes recognized called the Naturalist-who possesses an ability to understand and interact with living things. Then there are also the three modalities of learning Auditory-meaning you learn by hearing approximately 20% of students learn this way, Visual-meaning you learn best by seeing something approximately 30% of the population learns best this way, and Bodily-Kinesthetic-meaning you learn best by doing. 30% of the population learns best this way, and Bodily-Kinesthetic, meaning you learn best by doing. Some research suggests that up to 51% of all people learn this way, yet our school system is ill equipped for these types of learners.
Since I am complaining about your editorial I will actually do something you won’t. I will offer some suggestions on how to spend the bond money, and improve the quality of the education of the students at San Benito High School.
1. Stop trying to shove the square peg into the round hole. Do not try to force all students to be “academic”. Recognize that there are different types of intelligences and skills and actually help kids at an early age to find their strengths and try to build upon them.
2. Follow the model of the private schools. Embrace athletics and extra-curricular activities. Instead of trying to cut back on them expand them. In fact make it a graduation requirement that every kid participate in an extra-curricular activity to graduate. Play a sport, be in a play, the band, a club, dance group, etc.
3. Focus on building real self-esteem. Not the “I breathe, therefore I am great” mentality. Force kids to have to actually do something, to perform. Put some pressure on them; they aren’t made out of glass. But allow each student to be faced with challenges that are based on his or her strengths, and not designed to expose their weaknesses at first. Yes, as some point every kids should be able to read, write and do arithmetic, but that which is needed for their talents or careers, and not what the “college board” says.
4. Since somewhere around 50% of all students are kinesthetic learners, emphasize labs. Actually bring back real labs in science. Let kids prick their fingers and do a blood typing lab in biology. We did and survived. Disect a frog, mix chemicals together, etc. But not just in science. Encourage students to do labs in all subjects. In math have students do calculations to solve a real-world problem. In history, have student get on a covered wagon and take the Oregon trail for two weeks during the summer. What a great AP experience this might be instead of memorizing more “academic” material. In foreign language bring in people who speak the “target” language and act out a trip to the store, a restaurant, etc. Vocational teachers already know the value and importance of labs.
5. Quit assuming that “technology” is the answer to the problems of education. Recognize that the key has always been the interaction between students and teachers. Train teachers to recognize the strengths of students and build upon them, and trust them enough to help fill in whatever “gaps” there are in the kids knowledge.
6. And lastly, remember that there are many good-paying, societally important, and self-esteem building careers that do not require one to take 5 AP classes as an 11th grader. If public education is to truly to benefit as many kids as possible we should remember that there are at least 7 different types of intelligence, and at least 3 different modalities of learning. Quit pitting them against each other and see how we can make them work together. Some research suggests that up to 51% of

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