Grades of knowledge

I had an interesting discussion with a five year old SVS student who was irked by something a seven year old from a traditional school had said to him, namely, that she knew more than he did because she was older and already half way through second grade, and anyone who knows anything knows that kindergartners don't know as much as second graders.

In considering this I realized that this had always seemed like a perfectly reasonable assumption, that third graders know more than second graders who know more than first graders, and luckily for first graders, there are always kindergartners who are considered much duller tools indeed and not even really part of the actual school.

Well, this five year old made it clear to me that this assumption was completely off base. He was particularly unnerved at the audacity of this second grader to put forth the concept.  His vexed look was saying, "How dare she question the depths of my knowledge. She doesn't know me."

He told me that he replied to her that she was wrong and that he knew about lots of things. I told him that I agreed with that assessment. The fact that it bothered him enough to bring it up told me that it had really gotten under his skin.

As he went on his way, the word maverick came to mind. Nobody was going to tell him that she was smarter than him based purely on age or some standard of grading imposed by some other school.

It struck me just how much this little guy had learned in such a short time. It wasn't just that he had built an opinion of himself that was above the reproach of an "elder,”  but that he had the clarity to defend himself against the oppression, that statements which were given as common knowledge to most were ludicrous to him, and that the inequities he encountered were things to be considered, confronted and discussed.

In her defense, the second grader may not have covered that yet in her lessons.

The views expressed on this page are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Sudbury Valley School.