Sunday, June 1, 2008

Education, part 1

Well this is a bit of a sore subject for me. What I am going to try in this post is outline what an educational system needs, in my not-so-humble opinion. I am going to try to maintain balance between the individual, and their rights, and the needs of a society at large. This first part is my personal experiences at the mercy of the current educational system. The next part wil begin to outline the end goal, at least in my eyes what it should look like.

I attended a small town educational system until high school, which I transferred to a Catholic high school 20ish miles away. The town's high school was atrocious, college prep was the second most available curriculum, behind shop. This class also had a piss-poor agricultural program.

I entered the school system a year early. The town has some arcane method of selecting when students could enter school, but my mum fought the system and managed to win. Later the Skool system would try to use this against me.

In Kindergarten I had my first run-in with how abysmal the town's educational system was. I used to get terrible ear infections, pain was a constant in my life as a child. My parents did what they could, but nothing could stop the pain. Eventually, I lost hearing in both ears. No one at skool even noticed until they called out all the kids for recess after nap time, and I didn't go until the teacher shook me, even after calling my name in my ear for a few minutes. You see, even back then I was a wily bugger, I had taught myself to read lips. I'm still figuring out who to thank (I'm agnostic), my hearing returned mostly intact after the eardrums healed. It's kinda my own damn fault, as I adapted to my new surroundings. Even to this day my mum swears I never lost my hearing, that's how bamboozled I had her. Now did the Skool take any time to make sure I was seeing a doctor? Did they at least contact my parents face to face to discuss what's going on? Nope. Nada. If my ears didn't heal then I would have been the "student left behind"

For my next escapade in the piss-poor skool system here in town It's actually rather funny. Well It's funny now, but as a kid once I figured out what they were doing I went postal. It was in the 3rd grade when it started. I was never one to get good grades, I was a C student, and never showed much interest in getting anything else. Well in it's infinite wisdom, the skool system decided that I was "special". Not the gifted "special" but rather the hockey-helmet-wearing "special." My mom fought to keep me in regular classes, but behind her back they would stuff me in with the other 2-3 special education kids. It's one thing to be bored, it's another to be bored out of your skull while some kid rambles on for 6 hours about the Beatles albums. I was 7, I didn't know who the heck the Beatles were, never mind who produces what album...

I'll never forget the fourth grade so long as I live. For the entirety of the fourth grade I never learned any math, nor social studies, not even how to improve my cursive handwriting. I drew trucks. The skool system decided that due to my obvious problems with learning, that the only jobs I would be suitable for in society was:

1) truck driver
2) fisherman
3) farmer

Now, I have nothing against those professions. There are smart and dumb people in all walks of life. But in the 70's, the dawn of the information age, if you drove a truck then you were assumed to be as smart as a box of hammers. As for fishing and farming, only morons did manual labor. your father was a fisherman to put you through college. Such was the wisdom(HA!) of the 70's.

Now to say I drew trucks, that's exactly what I did. On big and small sheets of manila paper me and my classmates drew Peterbuilts, Kenworths and Mack's. For an entire school year!

Now that little school I was in only went to the 4th grade. I would go to another school in town for 5th grade then it's off to middle school for 6th - 8th grades. It's in 5th grade when the skool system finally realized the mistake they were making. In town, 5th grade is finally where the entire body of students merged into one giant group. This school was new, only 5 years old at the time, and none of the existing teachers for the earlier town schools transferred there. So by and large, the teachers were young, and enthusiastic, and most importantly not tenured. The first few months of the 5th grade were spent in a much larger group of "special" kids. And then my salvation arrived in a small standardized test.

The Iowa Test of Basic Skills, how I love thee. So one day I'm bored out of my skull in "special class" when they give us these exams where you fill in the little dot with a #2 pencil. Most of the kids drew on the paper, drooled on it, wiped their ass on it or yes, even masturbated on it in class. I sat down in the corner away from the bodily fluids and took the exam.

Not to toot my own horn, but I am way above average in intelligence. The reason I had always done poorly in school is because I was bored. Nothing was challenging me. Turns out once they got the results back from the test, I was called in to the principal's office. I scored so high they thought I cheated. After several teachers coming in with questions they realized the mistake they made. the very next day I was moved into the advanced classes. Needless to say the Skool never apologized for it's mistake.

So how can we improve things? Consider this a teaser for my next pot on the subject.

1) Hold Teachers accountable
2) Hold Students accountable
3) Privatize the educational system
4) Reduce governmental involvement to oversight


Mayberry said...

My sentiments exactly. Government does absolutely nothing well. Except scam the taxpayer. That they excel at.

riverwalker said...

The beaurocrats love to throw money at our educational system thinking this will fix it. There's a big difference between being educated and being intelligent! Too bad they're not "intelligent" enough to realize this.