I am helping Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America to assess the viability of the following idea.
In so many of today's elementary schools, the focus has shifted from bright kids (those with the greatest potential to solve our social problems, cure our diseases, become wise leaders) to low-achieving kids, in part because of No Child Left Behind, which gives schools big carrots and sticks for helping low achievers achieve basic proficiency but no carrots or sticks for helping bright kids to live up to their potential.
As a result, countless bright kids, especially in working-class and lower-middle-class communities, wither in public elementary schools--bored, not even close to living up to their potential.
And if such a kid can't sit still for the six hours a day, five days a week of boredom, he or she is often endlessly put down by the teacher and/or put on a Ritalin leash. This group of kids has an enormous unmet need, a huge gap between how well they could be doing and how well they're actually doing, academically and especially socially and emotionally.
A mentoring relationship is perhaps the most potent way to help people live up to their potential. And that is why I am volunteering to help Brothers/Big Sisters assess the viability of its extending its outreach to specifically include bright kids in working-class and lower-middle class public schools and to Big Brothers/Sisters that would be particularly well-suited to mentoring them, for example, alumni of selective colleges.
So, do you think it would be difficult to recruit "Bigs" (mentors) for neglected bright kids in working-class public schools?
And theoretically, might you consider being a Big Brother to such a kid, for example, speaking with and/or seeing your "Little" periodically, say an hour a week?