Spanish or C++ — Which Most Belongs in School?

DON’T GET ME wrong. I’m not a language snob. I know there are worlds to visit outside of my English-speaking homeland, and I’m impressed by those who can order a meal in French or interpret for a Spanish speaker at a diner in Idaho.

I love the sound of the Romantic languages, and I’m fascinated by the guttural sounds of Arabic and Hebrew. If I had the money and time, I would love to travel the world and learn everything I can from the various cultures — especially their spiritual and philosophical perspectives.

Let’s get that straight, right from the start.

But why does the public school system decree my son must study Spanish or French?

My boy is a whole lot smarter than I was at 12 years old, and he’s often smarter than I am … today.

Last week, for instance, we went to get him registered for the 7th grade. The registrar asked Zeb whether he would prefer Spanish or French for his foreign language requirement.

Zeb said, “Neither. I’d like to take a computer language, like C++ … could you sign me up for that, please?”

The lady was flabbergasted. She got a little stern, it seemed to me, and told the boy he HAD to pick Spanish or French. No substitutions. She was in control, you see, not us.

So, we thanked her for her time and went in search of a school where Zeb can study the things that really interest him: entrepreneurship, computer languages, graphic design, computer science, and such.

Thank God we live in Oregon, but it ain’t yet Heaven

We moved to Oregon this summer — it’s one of the most educationally advanced places in the world, right? Surely there’s an option for a bright boy like Zebadiah to study the things that will most likely contribute to his financial and practical future.


I can’t speak to what is available privately, but I’ve checked every possible option I can thing of — even homeschooling via a sanctioned-by-the-state provider like K12** — and there is nothing out there that offers electives other than art, music, and languages for a seventh-grader.

That’s it.

I can understand my son being required to take English. It not only happens to be the language of the land in which we live, but is the international language of business. But why our schools focus on Spanish and French rather than on entrepreneurship and technology is absolutely beyond my understanding.

The only way studying French would help him prosper, 10 or 20 years down the road, is if he moves to Paris.

Good job, USA. 

And the really amazing thing is the organization requiring this is made up of people in charge of educating our children to compete in tomorrow’s universe.

Rant over.

Just had to say it.

Can you enlighten me here? What part of the big picture am I missing?

 **Update: a very gracious K12 counselor has agreed to let Zeb take high school electives. She says no middle schooler has ever tried and succeeded before, but she will let him have a go at it! Kudos to K12.


  1. I have been a public school teacher for five years and completely agree with you. Too many people with too little understanding hold positions of power in the administration of American schools. Treating every child the same, they strain out what makes each individual unique in order to force the wide variance of shapes, that is our God given, distinctive sensibilities, into their pridefully determined square hole of “one size fits all”. This pride drives the whole system, as test scores trump individual progress, ignore unique, individual potential that resides “outside the box”, and set standards that fail to correlate with the actual needs of a constantly changing world. The individual is ignored, reduced to a score that brands them as successful or not based on an apathetic curriculum that essentially sees them as cogs in the machine. In some communities (like the ones I taught in) families are so broken, that some don’t have either a mom or dad present to train and enforce the expectations (accountability necessitates enforcement, which can only be instituted in the home, teachers and schools have little to no power to do this) that are integral to a child’s success in the classroom. Parental involvement in a child’s life is so fundamental, it seems naturally implicit, but in a world of free will, humans will choose to go their own way instead of God’s, and we see the results every day. As a teacher, thank you for being so involved in your child’s life. Positive parental nourishment is reflected in the classroom, making it a fun and constructive environment for both teaching and learning.

    • Thank you, Scott. My boy is running an A+ in the coding class. His older sister loves music and drama — thankfully, we live in a district that still supports the arts. She is flourishing in public high school. Thank you for hanging in there as a teacher. There is no more important job.

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