Time to Focus on the 4 Kinds of Smart.

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I think we may be at a turning point for public education, but what do I know (please don’t answer… or send me insulting/truthful emails).There May Be More, But This Picture Indicates There Are Only Four Types of Smart.

In ten years, the world of education may be overtaken by home schooling, charter schools, and online learning (this interweb thing really seems to be catching on).

This makes me a little sad because I’m a big fan of public education (almost as big of fan as I am of chocolate).

But it’s all I know.

Maybe there is a better way.

Maybe our students can be better served by another type of system.

Maybe, just maybe, a system that relied less on government funding could better educate our children.

I don’t want to sound crazy, but schools might be better off if they didn’t have to answer to politicians (a crazy thought I know, but I’m just throwing it out there).

Here’s what I do know.

Public schools try to be everything to everybody.

We teach.  We serve breakfast.  We make sure kids know how to drive.

We offer exercise (if you count PE).  We put a whole lot of students on the Honor Roll. 

We teach kids how to type (why… I don’t know).

We provide sports and after school activities. 

We provide things we can’t afford and spend money in ways that may not be fiscally responsible.

To summarize, we try and do so much that we probably set ourselves up for failure.

My latest theory is we need to downsize.

Focus in on what students actually need.

Focus on things our country could actually benefit from since our students will be the ones leading us in 20 years.

I see 4 types of smart in students.

Academic.  Athletic.  Vocational.  The Arts.

Not 100% of all kids fall into one of these categories, but 99% of them do.

Common sense tells me we should identify what a student is good at and then help them be great.

Yet, we sort of identify what a kid is good at then we try to make them the same level of good in the other areas.

Mediocrity seems to be our goal.

Academic kids should be thrown in rigorous programs at a very young age.

Athletic kids should be given the opportunity to maximize their skills.

Vocational students should learn the skills they need to keep this country growing.

Students who thrive in the Arts should be allowed to do just that.

I think it’s simple.

And I think we make it complicated.

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16 Responses to “Time to Focus on the 4 Kinds of Smart.”


  1. Tina Francis
    on Jun 29th, 2012
    @ 8:56 am

    Makes sense to me.


  2. John
    on Jun 29th, 2012
    @ 9:18 am

    Sad but so true. Educators are not (usually) business people as much as politicians (mostly) are not educators. Not sure where we are going either but I completely agree that it has been made way too complicated. Well said Mr. Smith!

    Michael Smith Reply:

    @John, Thank you!!!!


  3. Tracie
    on Jun 29th, 2012
    @ 9:31 am

    You make it sound so simple!

    Michael Smith Reply:

    @Tracie, It’s is.


  4. Alison Grams
    on Jun 29th, 2012
    @ 9:32 am

    I could not agree more. You are right on.


  5. Karen Marcus
    on Jun 29th, 2012
    @ 10:08 am

    It’s not rocket science but we sure try to make it so.


  6. Todd
    on Jun 29th, 2012
    @ 3:40 pm

    Nice idea, but funding drives the bus. If we could let the kids/parents chose one of these 4 areas and the funding was provided either through business or government, with no strings attached (no chance) then you could make something like this happen. Money means strings and strings bind us to making every kid a scientist or mathmatician. As a nation we pride ourselves on trying to educate every student equally, and in the same structure, with the same curriculum requirements, and same standardized tests because the taxpayers want “accountability”. That message of control will keep driving public education even while we all know it’s not what is best for kids. It is what the politicians have convinced the taxpayers they should want. It’s the same funny concept of local control as long as you do what you are told by the state and feds because they hold the purse strings. Nice to dream for a moment though…


  7. Knaus
    on Jun 29th, 2012
    @ 7:44 pm

    I think it is more simple than we are making it. I think we can do a lot better. That said, is it that simple in kindergarten? At what age do students/kids show their strength? (Please note that I didn’t say grade level because that isn’t a good indicator.) Do we start grouping that 8? 10? 12? I think this is easier in high school and maybe even middle school. Is it that simple in primary and elementary?

    Michael Smith Reply:

    @Knaus, 7th grade.

    Reevaluate every year after that just like when college students change majors.


  8. Jennifer
    on Jun 29th, 2012
    @ 8:33 pm

    Good point(s)! When will you be running our educational system, Mr. Smith?

    Michael Smith Reply:

    @Jennifer, I’m available. And I work pretty cheap.

    Michael Smith Reply:

    @Jennifer, I’m available. And I work cheap.


  9. wozza
    on Jul 1st, 2012
    @ 4:15 pm

    Ha ha ha!!

    I had to laugh because you describe the school I went to in the early Jurassic period.

    When I started at the school (we’ll call it Mt Albert Grammar in, oh – let’s say Auckland, New Zealand) students were placed in either a vocational stream (Agriculture or Commerce frinstance) or an Academic one (studying Latin and French) or a general Arts one (French, art etc) or Science. The school has added Sports Academies to the list in the years since I left.

    The more things change…


  10. Mrs. T
    on Jul 12th, 2012
    @ 5:53 pm

    Hello Mr. Smith, I am curious as to what you mean when you talk about
    “Academic kids should be thrown in rigorous programs at a very young age. Athletic kids should be given the opportunity to maximize their skills.
    Vocational students should learn the skills they need to keep this country growing. Students who thrive in the Arts should be allowed to do just that.” I do agree, but as my sister-inlaw says, “that is why I send my kids to private school.” How so we as public workers, working for the good of the people, combat such ways. I am a school teacher in Mt who works for a school of promise (google it pretty interesting). I was pink slipped because I was non-teanured. I am looking at going into the private sector because of the public institutions “pink slip” policy; are those teachers like me contributing to the private institutions that we doth detest? your thoughts most welcomed!


  11. Davis
    on Jul 26th, 2012
    @ 9:41 am

    I quite like looking through an article that makes both men and women think. Also, many thanks for permitting me to comment!

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