New Slide: Can the Quirky Kid Thrive?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the quirky kids in my classroom lately:

(download slide and view original image credit on Flickr)

I’m not sure that I like my own answer to this question—-but shouldn’t it be a question that we think about a little more carefully as we sprint towards a common core?





Original Image Credit: Confused, Alone and Scared Today by Nina Mathews Photography

Confused ,alone and scared  today  : (

Licensed Creative Commons Attribution on April 10, 2011


6 thoughts on “New Slide: Can the Quirky Kid Thrive?

  1. Bill Ferriter

    I agree, RR, that we dont have the collective guts to try something radical….and I think its more than that. I dont think we have the collective willpower—or even level of understanding that something radical is needed. The majority of people see our system as something that is comforting because it resembles the system that they know and love. Questioning that system isnt something they see a need for.
    Not to mention that questioning the system would be messy—and no one likes messy.
    Anyway, thanks for stopping by,

  2. RR

    Our system was designed to provide education for all citizens. How can one system meet all the needs of all the unique individuals in our county? It can’t. We attempt to be a “Jack of all trades and master of none”– but sometimes even that is a stretch. We need systemS. However, that is a totally different animal, and would require us to do things that may not be PC. Times have changed since our system was developed, but I’m not sure that we have the collective guts to address the tough questions and try something radical.

  3. Bill Ferriter

    Oh, K—-The Otherwisers is a GREAT term. I love it.
    And I think you and I are on the exact same page. When I talk about hell bent on standardization, I mean the same things that you do—-Students stuck in the same classes for the same periods of time in the same buildings learning from the same teachers using the same instructional practices no matter what their individual needs and interests are.
    Thats a failure on the part of schools—-but its also a failure on the part of communities who are generally overwhelmingly satisfied with their schools because they resemble the same classrooms that they went to 20-30 years ago.
    Our system doesnt fit the adult otherwisers very well either, does it?
    Thanks for stopping by,

  4. Bill Ferriter

    Hey Kevin,
    First, thanks for stopping by the Radical. Ive learned a lot by watching and listening to you over the years. Looking forward to meeting in person someday.
    Second, you said:
    We are creating middle managers in a time when that
    role is being outsourced wholesale.
    So the question I always struggle with is whose responsibility is it to drive change? The people with organizational power are creating the very policies that result in middle-management education models. I mean as a full time classroom teacher, almost every message—and more importantly, formal requirements—sent to me aligns nicely with the we dont want no stinking innovation mantra.
    That leaves me in an awkward position: Constantly dancing the fine line between doing what I know is right and doing what I know is required.
    I call this walking the moral tightrope ( and it leaves me exhausted.
    Anyway…thanks for stopping by,

  5. K. Borden

    I hope I phrase this effectively, because this is a subject that is so incredibly dear to me. Here goes nothing, eh?
    It isn’t standards that may come or ones that have existed which threaten the “quirky kid”. At their essence standards are common content and skill objectives for all kids to meet at least minimally. Quirky, deviant, unusual, atypical, odd, out of the box—or my personal term the otherwisers are far more strangled by systems than standards.
    With a bit of otherwise thinking, they can reach standards—just walking, dancing, doing cartwheels, skipping, skating or otherwise traversing a different trail to the objective.
    As a parent it is my job to help my teeno (sigh Mr. Ferriter she is no longer a kiddo) to be other and wise in healthy balance. She is other, and with time, good content and experience she will be wise.
    Mr. Honeycutt hit the nail on the head with this statement: “What worries me is that the kids know when someone stands out and they often attack what stands out. We teach them to do this.”
    Where he and I may differ is that it is not a core set of standards that does it. It is a system that says you learn best from x time to x time in x room with x aged others for x days a year. If Z works better, too danged bad. You certainly learn to conform to a system that way, but whether it is wise or leaves any room for others is a different matter.
    But then we chose to homeschool allowing us to reach common standards and more with an adaptable system to reach them. There is more though. We don’t find the attacks when a bit of other appears. Maybe because we belong to a community that chose an alternative, but the climate is far more accepting and encouraging. It is amazing what a bit of confidence, encouragement and acceptance can do for the quirky or otherwiser. It is possible to thrive, not survive (a minimal standard).

  6. Kevin Honeycutt

    Quirky, different kids have historically struggled in American public schools. Some of the most brilliant minds in history share that school is something they “survived”. Like you I think we’ve reached a new standard of standardization. The strange, different and innovative will have to be cold warriors and survivalists to withstand the current level of conformity required to succeed in school. What worries me is that the kids know what is expected and they know when someone stands out and they often attack what stands out. We teach them to do this. We are creating middle managers in a time when that role is being outsourced wholesale. Agitate, agitate, agitate.

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