Escape from High School Hell? A Hogwarts for Brainiacs
Davidson Academy looks a lot like a typical high school. It’s only when the students open their mouths that you realize that this is an exceptional place, a sort of Hogwarts for brainiacs. As these math whizzes, musical prodigies and chess masters pass in the hallway, the banter flies in witty bursts. Inside humanities classes, discussions spin into intellectual duels. _PSIt does not take a brainiac to understand that something has gone very wrong with US public education. But no one seems to know what to do to remedy a broken down and corrupt system of mis-education and fraudulent misuse of public funds.
Like interchangeable parts in an industrial machine, students [are] treated alike, regardless of their individual characteristics and needs. Square peg, meet round hole.What we got from shutting away students by age was what is called by greedy corporate marketers, "the youth culture" or "the youth demographic." Thanks to public schools, the teen years are a breeding ground for delinquency, crime, bullying, drug abuse, shallowness, dark nihilistic sub-cultures -- almost anything except a healthy transition into adulthood.
Putting kids together and sorting by age [creates] that dysfunctional creature, the “teenager.” Once [long ago,] teen-agers weren’t so much a demographic as adults-in-training. They worked, did farm chores, watched children and generally functioned in the real world. They got status and recognition for doing these things well, and they got shame and disapproval for doing them badly.
But once they were segregated by age in public schools, teens looked to their peers for status and recognition instead of to society at large. As Thomas Hine writes in The American Heritage, “Young people became teenagers because we had nothing better for them to do. We began seeing them not as productive but as gullible consumers.” _NYP
So what about this mysterious "Hogwarts for Brainiacs?" And are there other similar places for youth to escape high school holding cells for more productive endeavours?
A rational society would know what to do with a kid like Taylor Wilson, especially now that America’s technical leadership is slipping and scientific talent increasingly has to be imported. But by the time Taylor was 12, both he and his brother, Joey, who is three years younger and gifted in mathematics, had moved far beyond their school’s (and parents’) ability to meaningfully teach them. Both boys were spending most of their school days on autopilot, their minds wandering away from course work they’d long outgrown.And so it began for young brainiac Taylor, at The Davidson Academy in Reno, Nevada. Read more about Taylor's adventures in nuclear fusion at the Brainiac Hogwarts, in the story linked above.
...only 10 individuals had managed to build working fusion reactors. Taylor contacted one of them, Carl Willis, then a 26-year-old Ph.D. candidate living in Albuquerque, and the two hit it off. But Willis, like the other successful fusioneers, had an advanced degree and access to a high-tech lab and precision equipment. How could a middle-school kid living on the Texas/Arkansas border ever hope to make his own star?
...The Davidson Academy is a subsidized public school for the nation’s smartest and most motivated students, those who score in the top 99.9th percentile on standardized tests. The school, which allows students to pursue advanced research at the adjacent University of Nevada–Reno, was founded in 2006 by software entrepreneurs Janice and Robert Davidson. Since then, the Davidsons have championed the idea that the most underserved students in the country are those at the top.
On the family’s first trip to Reno, even before Taylor and Joey were accepted to the academy, Taylor made an appointment with Friedwardt Winterberg, a celebrated physicist at the University of Nevada who had studied under the Nobel Prize–winning quantum theorist Werner Heisenberg. When Taylor told Winterberg that he wanted to build a fusion reactor, also called a fusor, the notoriously cranky professor erupted: “You’re 13 years old! And you want to play with tens of thousands of electron volts and deadly x-rays?” Such a project would be far too technically challenging and hazardous, Winterberg insisted, even for most doctoral candidates. “First you must master calculus, the language of science,” he boomed. “After that,” Tiffany said, “we didn’t think it would go anywhere. Kenneth and I were a bit relieved.” _PS
As the founders of The Davidson Academy point out, "the most underserved students in the country are those at the top." This is particularly true if those at the top happen to be boys.
Every society (except for intentionally stagnant dictatorships like North Korea) needs its most talented young minds. But under a regime of political correctness, the bright and the exceptional are typically neglected or even stunted and abused by an overly regimented system.
It might even surprise you to know that billionaire Bill Gates has joined Barack Obama to become part of the problem, rather than part of the solution. Ratcheting up regimentation and central control over school systems is the last thing one would expect from someone commonly seen as a benevolent philanthropist. And yet instead of creating mind-stretching alternatives to the government's concentration camp approach to education, Bill Gates appears to be in league with uber-ideologue Barack Obama in priming all US schools for future programs in mass indoctrination.
It is a sad thing to see, indeed.
But it is unlikely that the underground trend toward alternative schooling is ready to lay down and die, simply because dumbed down US voters allowed the re-selection of a narcissistic national administrator of fanatical tendencies toward central control of everything.
In the race to the development of powerful decentralised tools of disruptive technologies, the greater the number of approaches and the larger the number of centres of innovation, the better.
When small groups of individuals are capable of providing for themselves virtually all of the goods and services which their governments claim to provide for them, the need for those governments becomes much less clear.