More educational ranting (a.k.a., What happened to my brain?)

When I realized that someone had commented on my last post, I was a little nervous because I had been embarrassed over complaining so much. Luckily, however, the response I got was quite positive.

“I was surfing ‘education’ tags and stumbled on to your first post here:-)
Just thought you would like to know that you have already been quoted, http://elgg.net/dtruss/weblog/142909.html (at the bottom of the post). Here are my ideas from the post regarding your second paragraph.
“Many of the Square/Round Peg Students (that don’t fit into our other-shaped schools) are the future thinkers/dreamers/innovators that are going to meaningfully change our world. We need to recognize their future value… We have an obligation to nurture them, and to develop their enthusiasm for learning. It isn’t just about not stifling creativity or not making schools so alien… it is about creating an environment where every child can thrive… Not making the misfits fit, but rather helping them create a space that fits them.”
I hope that you can find teachers and classes that feed your passion for education in the future… good luck!”

 Oooh, first real post and I’ve already been quoted, goodie goodie. But down to business. Having read the  article linked above (which you should do as well–this is my response, afterall), I would like to do the internet equivalent of standing up and applauding. This is the first time that I’ve had someone agree with me that the current system for public education is warped. I particularly liked this chart (under the cut): 


   Courtesy of Kathy Sierra

It put into simpler terms what I have been thinking for years. Enough of the spitting out facts and giving us formulas for everything we do in life. And enough of the dog-eat-dog environment where the kids who sit down and suck up get further than the thinkers and innovators. Though the blind obedience may sound good and favor the people in charge of keeping the kids in line…these are children we’re talking about. Human beings who will take charge themselves in the future. Slavery certainly favored the white slave owners in the nineteenth century and beyond, but that doesn’t make it right. Slaves were much smarter than the slave owners would believe, and children are similarly much more dynamic than the people who set up these robotic environments seem to think.

I am intelligent. Not a genius, but intelligent enough. And moreover, I think. I read, I learn, I try to understand. (And I can’t afford to be modest in this case, it would only subtract from the point I’m desperately trying to make.) And yet, I’m told that I’m destined to fail in life because I don’t do things their way. I’ve felt from a very young age that they way things are run are very wrong. Preschool through around first grade, I felt it but couldn’t put my finger on it, so I didn’t react. Second grade up…I didn’t understand what it was that I was unconsciously lashing out against, but I was reacting whether or not I wanted to. My grades fell. Plummeted, actually. I don’t remember what triggered it, but suddenly I was looking around the room at all of us doing the same things, even though I was already at a level higher than many, that seemed wrong straight off, and we were memorizing and spitting out facts with increasing efficiency. Like a well-oiled machine. Except that’s what scared me. We were brainlessly doing what the teacher wanted us to do, studying things that I could never imagine would come of any use, and not learning. The second grader’s mind probably isn’t entirely capable of compiling facts from different, conflicting sources and properly analyzing situations and all that yet, but learning by rote and forgetting the second the test was over didn’t seem to do us much good. It seemed so futile. I essentially stopped doing my homework, and in the end, recieved my first F of my school career. In fact, I earned five F’s that year.

Looking back on the talks and ‘specialists’ they tried to send me to within the school, I now realize that they were treating me as if I had a behavior problem or learning disability. Like I needed their support to do better. That’s not what I needed. I needed something to make it matter to me. That’s what I still need. Somewhere in second grade, I realized that none of what we were doing seemed like it would matter in the grand scheme of things, in the world, and decided to not do it. More than that, I decided that I would accept the consequences of what I was doing (or refusing to do). The F’s, the disappointments, the conferences…I would take them all, because it was worth it. Worth it to not do something that I felt was wrong, that I felt was an insult to myself and my friends. I hadn’t turned my back on learning. I became even more of an avid reader, learned what I could on my own, drew incessantly to try to become better. I tried to take control and live the way I thought I should. Not that I was consciously thinkng all this at the time, but you’d be amazed at how much idealism is contained within the wish to do the right thing for oneself.

Even now I still have “trouble” in school. I have gotten to the point that I am not even capable of maintaining good grades. I still do not turn in homework. It’s cost me a lot, but I still don’t mind. I can’t make myself mind. Everytime I try to suck it up and force myself to do things their way, I hate myself. I quite literally get depressed for short spurts of time. I know I am not moving mountains and making great changes, I’m mostly inconvienencing myself, and yet…I’m proud of who I am. Most of the things that I can truly say that I have learned, I have learned on my own. And it feels so much more real.

That is essentially my story. I may go back and add to it or straighten things up a little later on, but I’m just running on adrenaline right now so my thoughts are still rather disorganized and there’s still a lot I want to say. However, for both of our sakes, mine and yours, I will break it off here, and hopefully organize my thoughts into sections and visit them in a much more orderly fashion later.

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~ by madamespider on January 16, 2007.

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