James Bryant Conant

James Bryant Conant believed that too many schools, both small and large, were not sufficiently challenging the academically talented. He states that “too many boys were neglecting courses in the humanities in favor of science and mathematics, and too many able girls were avoiding science, math, and foreign languages. ” His philosophy can be reflected in today’s society and it has both negative and positive aspects. Many high schools today separate the so called “academically gifted” from the “academically challenged”. They have developed special classes for both groups of students. At our high school, Crystal Lake Central High School, here were classes called E. C. classes, or extra curricular classes, for the honors students.

On the other hand, there were remedial classes for the students who were a slower at learning than the other students. The biggest group of students entails the “average student” who basically takes average classes. This idea of designating certain classes for students depending on their academic abilities is good because it allows students to learn at an appropriate level. A student who can read at a speed of 125 words per minute should not be in the same English class as a person who only reads 50 words per minute.

On the opposite end, there is a downfall to this idea of separation of classes. Students are put into certain groups and therefore they become stereotyped into certain categories. A person at a high intelligent level may be called a “brain” while a person at a low intelligent level may be called “stupid”. The students therefore form an identity with the group they belong to and use this identity to predict their future success. For example, a person of low intelligent probably does not feel much hope for obtaining a white collar job and he probably feels he has to resort to a blue collar job based on his academic status.


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