An ongoing debate with my friends has been about whether we should put our kids into the highest rated schools or is a decent school ok? Being of Indian heritage and from an educated family, there was always an emphasis on doing well in school and getting good grades. Now, we are the parents and have to push these values on our kids but how far should we go? Blue Ribbon schools do force their students to work hard and usually offer good opportunities, but are there drawbacks?
My kids are still in lower elementary school and we love the school. However, the higher schools in this district are considered average. When we think of moving homes in the future, school districts are always a consideration. Our neighboring town has one of the top schools but we’ve heard many parents tell us it is too competitive and is putting kids at a disadvantage. They feel that the students are fighting for spots in top colleges with their own classmates. This is a problem because colleges like diversity and won’t take too many kids from one school. I’ve also heard that the students in these ‘top schools’ are overly stressed and are missing out on childhood and fun.
I actually went to this ‘great school’ when I was in high school and it was quite competitive then as well. Now, though, there has been a huge influx of Asian immigrants who are pushing their home-country ideas of what their children should be learning and it has added a different dimension to the competition. Most kids are taking various educational courses outside of school because it is no longer good enough to be at the top of your class. Now one needs to be way ahead of class and must start learning multiplication/division at age 5 and read the Harry Potter series by age 6. This is becoming the new norm but I wonder if the kids are missing out age appropriate things and developing a well-rounded personality because this rush.
I can’t deny that I’ve fallen prey to this competitive attitude and often push my kids to study what’s ahead of the school requirements but I wonder how much is too much. Are we turning into Tiger moms and letting other important things fall to the wayside? Is a school where the majority of students are obsessed with this rat race beneficial to our kids? Or, is it better to be in a more mixed environment where the pace is more relaxed and those who overachieve can shine? Maybe the question comes down to…Is it better to be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond???
I can completely sympathize with this post. My parents moved school districts before my sister and I entered high school so that we could go to one of the best high schools in the country. And of course, not only was it highly competitive, but the likelihood of my getting into a good college (especially in-state) decreased because I was not competing with all the applicants, but rather with only the applicants from my particular high school. That said, having gone to a good college, I was ahead of my classmates in my basic knowledge. Having a strong foundation for my education has helped me in graduate school and in my career (I am always suprised at how many people don’t even know how to write a proper sentence!). Do I think it was worth it? I’m not sure. High school sucked. I felt so incredibly inferior all the time. I think if you go to a decent school but have parents who are nurturing and help fill the gaps in the education system, you’ll have a much more wholesome childhood. Or if you go to a great school, but have parents who see the bigger picture, you’ll be fine. Though as long as the boys aren’t going to a crappy school, I think they’ll do well and get into a good college. There comes a point when there’s really no value-added between a great school and a really good school… especially when you have proactive parents.
Oh and to answer your question — I think it’s better for a child’s self-esteem (and let’s not belittle how important this is) to be a big fish in a small pond, but know that the pond will get bigger. And I imagine the boys will have that awareness from you guys.