A LYS Superintendent submits the following:
After attending a recent UIL district meeting, an absurd thought hit me right between the eyes. What is our motivation behind UIL academic competition? Several things came to mind, such as:
1. We need to stretch students who are academically gifted, and UIL academics helps to stretch and challenge children.
The district I have just been hired to lead has an unacceptable high school. I wonder what has given us the idea we have stretched ANYONE to his/her maximum potential in the classroom to the extent that we needed UIL academics to take him/her farther. In fact, after further thought, I can think of no data at the local, state, national, or international level that would suggest that, on the whole, our nation’s schools do such a good job of maximizing potential in the classroom that we need some type of UIL academics to move them farther.
2. UIL academic competition gets children interested in academics.
Point 2 may very well be a valid consideration. But how many students are not interested in academics because our instruction, taken as a whole, is delivered with low rigor and low relevance? If we delivered quality instruction, would we need to use UIL academics to motivate our children?
I am certainly not against UIL academics, but I am beginning to think that for the vast majority of schools, the time, energy, and money behest onto UIL activities would be better spent improving the quality of what we do IN THE CLASSROOM. In fact, I would bet the single best bang for the buck, when it comes to maximizing potential and developing academic interest, is to deliver high quality instruction to all students, day in, day out.
Think. Work. Achieve. Your turn…
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