When I started Jr. High, I began a ritual that I continued until I graduated. I began class by walking in, picking up a piece of chalk and writing, “education is a farce,” on the black board. The teacher would have to begin the class by erasing what I had written.
Not a single teacher ever took me on. We did not talk about it. We did not debate it. It was written by me. Erased by the teacher.
I was frustrated and bored with sets of rules that seemed ridiculous. If I could get the correct answer in math, by a different method than the teacher, what was the problem? I have grown up to find that most adults I know used different methods from one another, so clearly there is no ONE right way, and yet we were continually marked down for finding a different way . . . even when we could show them their way but said we just preferred ours.
I found the subjects boring. I found repeating only what they wanted to hear, boring. Memorizing took me 2 seconds. Passing exams meant nothing. It certainly didn’t mean I had grasped the subject.
I wanted to ask questions, I wanted to probe further. I wanted to be engaged completely in the process. I only had a couple of teachers who ever understood that encouraged me. I learned so much in those years and I pushed myself way further than the course material ever could.
Thankfully I graduated at an early age. I have never stopped learning. I challenge myself, I take every opportunity, I love learning. I just hated school. With a passion.
Now here I am years later and my granddaughter who is staying with us is finishing up her schooling by correspondence. I told her that sometimes those detours that occupy us and take us away from the norm are the most important road trips we take. I am so excited for what his year holds for her, but I had not realized a good part of that is going to be around her education.
The other day as she worked on her lesson she had some questions and as I read over the assignment, hubby and I had to explain to her that the teacher was not asking for her to learn how to think, to apply common sense, to use logic, or even to supply her own opinion. If she wanted to get through the course, she was going to have to accept that the purpose of this course was to force her to shut down all of those important parts of her intelligence and her own identity, and parrot back to the teacher what she wanted to hear. She would have to accept the teacher’s definitions, her explanations and her illogical conclusions. I told her to consider herself playing the role of a mental patient when she did her lessons. That is truly how bad this course is.
It took awhile to get her to stop thinking.
She finished her assignment and probably will ace it, pleasing the teacher that yes, she can imitate a mindless robot.
We told her once her studies were done, we would make sure we life rafted her back to sanity … so we discussed the intelligent response, her own position, her own thoughts and ideas as to what it all meant.
Her assignments are mostly like the first one. She already knows the game. I doubt she is going to get as much from the course as she will from discussion around the lessons and how the system is set up to prepare her not to question, but to go out and get a job, and to buy into the idea that consumerism is a way of life. Luckily she has already started making other arrangements and I think, like others in this family, she will not go willingly into that dark night. She will probably miss the bus. On purpose … and head off on her own to do something that makes sense to her heart as well as her head.
She is a smart young woman.
It has been awhile since I was at school and apparently not much has changed. I had forgotten how insane it made me feel and how hard the lesson was to sit down, shut up and tell them what they want to hear. I wonder how anyone makes it through with a mind left to engage.
This is going to be a very interesting year.