Cognition Over Character

Sep 22, 2019

I wish I could say it was an uneventful day, but this was definitely not the case.  As part of my normal weekend ritual I was watering the plants on my front patio when two cars rounded the corner and zipped past our home.  Though I did notice the loud music and obscenities streaming out of the second vehicle, I really didn’t think twice about it until the cars were just out of my sight and I heard gun shots being fired.  This definitely caught my attention, as it was out of the norm in our quiet, low key neighborhood.

Fifteen minutes later I was less than a block away from our house giving my statement to the police.  It seems I was witness to road rage.  As I understand it, the driver of the second car shot at the first one and then fled the scene.  Though I don’t believe anyone got hurt, it was a frightening and concerning incident, all the same. 

I haven’t stopped thinking about the driver of that second car.  He could have been any number of the students I’ve worked with over the years – kids with anger issues who needed support well beyond what their teachers and school administrators could provide.  To me, the breakdown is obvious.  The school system is designed to value cognition (academic achievement) over character (social, emotional, ethical development).  But from where I stood on my front porch today, the driver’s IQ concerned me much less than his EQ.  I believe if legislation is not passed putting more emphasis on meeting the mental health needs of the kids in our schools, the high test scores we are striving for won’t matter at all. 

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