Something has gone awry in education, demonstrated by two occurrences last week.
It’s not so much even the occurrences themselves that prompt such concern, it’s the non-solutions to the problems.
One is the much-publicized incident of the 14-year-old Texas boy who was arrested for bringing a clock to school that he had made to show his teachers.
The other was right here in Canada, where a hearing-impaired student at Memorial University had his professor, essentially, refuse to teach him because some kind of alleged religious belief allowed her not to accommodate his disability.
Both occurrences have prompted outrage from the general public, but it is telling that neither institution where the occurrences took place have reacted satisfactorily, even under the glare of the media spotlight.
First, the clock.
Ahmed Mohamed built the thing at home — a pretty admirable feat — and even showed it to an engineering teacher at the school, explaining exactly what it was. Nevertheless, the school’s administration went nuts and decided it must be a bomb. The kid deserves extra credit, not an arrest and interrogation.
The stupidity of the school cannot be overstated. Clearly, even a quick chat with the engineering teacher would have cleared up any misunderstanding. But more disturbing still is that to this day, in spite of words of support from everyone from U.S. President Barack Obama to Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, the school refuses to admit it did anything wrong.
It’s an insane and out-of-touch reaction. The school seems to care far more about bureaucracy than it does about the learning of their students.
Then there’s William Sears who couldn’t take the course he wanted, and paid for, at university because the school has some kind of backward and ridiculous accommodation with professor Ranee Panjabi who refuses to wear an FM transmitter device so that he can hear because supposedly it clashes with her Hindu beliefs.
The professor has yet to say anything to the media and the school hasn’t clarified exactly what in her religion should allow her to discriminate against hearing-impaired students (this is not the first time this has happened with this professor) but it’s clearly nonsense to employ somebody who refuses to do their job.
And part of her job is to teach students — all of them.
It’s hard to fathom how the use of a device to allow a student to hear would violate any reasonable religious tenet, but if it does that should be the professor’s problem, not the student’s.
It seems a monumental failure that the school allows this situation to continue, apology or not.
So failing grades to two schools this week.