In this season of PSSA testing in order to ensure that all students in Pennsylvania’s public schools have absorbed the correct and identical amount of facts and figures, we encountered at least three instances that raise the flag in favor of diversity in education.
The first example is a sign that hangs across State Street in Kennett Square. It advertises an open house at the Chester County Technical College High School in Penn Township.
The students who attend this school spend half their school day learning practical skills like cooking, auto repair, veterinary assistance, healthcare and criminal justice -- among other things.
There is plenty of hands-on training, and the kids come out of there ready for a job or entrance into a college with a leg up on a major.
At a time when their friends in the public schools spend probably twice as much time sitting at desks listening to the answers to questions they never asked and absorbing facts that they are not likely to use, this tech kids are learning how to make useful contributions to the world.
The second is the Green Gathering that the Avon Grove Charter School held on Saturday. These students, whose education carries a strong environmental element, spend plenty of time out of doors, making friends with the earth, growing plants and studying how to make animals, plants and the world work in harmony without waste.
They have a greenhouse in which they are growing plants in water that has fish swimming in it. The plants are nourished by the droppings from the fish rather than artificial fertilizer. And soon, the kids will eat the lettuce that grew in this ecologically efficient system.
So enthusiastic are the students, that they have a team of kids who are coming back regularly over the summer to take care of the animals and plants that the greenhouse is nurturing.
The students of the Avon Grove Charter School are learning which way the wind is blowing, and they will take this wisdom and love of the environment into their adulthood.
The third example came from an unexpected source. Abdullah H. Abdur-Razzaq, an aide to the late civil rights activist Malcolm X, grew up poor in the Morningside Park section of New York City.
He talked about his youth and said in a way he mapped out his own education. He taught himself to sign his name and took out library books starting at a very young age. He would take them to a park where it was quiet and read, read, read voraciously.
When it came time for college and books were assigned, he excelled in classes because he had already read them.
His curiosity and desire to express ideas drove him to learn -- not homework or the desire to get high scores on a test.
We’ll admit that our local public schools do a fairly good job, exposing the students to what are important academic concepts.
Still, when it comes to what provides a healthy and useful foundation for adult knowledge, there are many roads, as the students at the tech school, charter school and even a curious ghetto kid know full well.