Friday, February 20, 2009

On education

When I was a child, I failed the seventh grade. In order to keep me from repeating the 7th, my parents had to enroll me in a private school for the next three years. It was not that I was dumb, or unruly, or that I could not do the work- far from it. I was going through the papers in my mother's scrapbook, and found my papers from that year.

We were given a standardized test in March of the year I was in seventh grade. I maxed out the test in Reading Comprehension, Vocabulary, Language, Social Science, and Science. According to the test, I was functioning in those subjects at a college junior (15th grade) level. In math and spelling, I was functioning as a high school senior(12th grade). I scored in the 96th percentile. The total battery score showed that I was functioning at a 12th grade level.

Yet I was to be retained in the 7th grade. Why? I had an F in Social Studies, a D in Math. Both teachers told me that I had a poor attitude.

My social studies teacher gave me an F in the class project because I wrote a report on the Vietnam war in which I said that the United States abandoned its obligation to South Vietnam, and allowed the country to be overrun by communists. This action, I said, damaged U.S. credibility worldwide. The teacher told me I was wrong, and that it was the oppression of the US and South Vietnamese governments that caused them to lose face. I failed the class for that. (in part)

My D in math was because the teacher accused me of cheating. I was in an advanced placement algebra course, and I was not showing my work when solving equations. I told the teacher (in the parent-teacher conference) that the reason I showed no work was because I was solving the equations in my head. The teacher insisted that this was impossible, so my mother asked the teacher to give me 5 sample problems on the spot. I solved them in my head faster than the teacher could on paper. For that, my grade was changed from an F to a D.

My teachers would constantly argue with me because I refused to do homework. My thought was that I was in school to learn, and since I could consistently score 85-95% on exams, I did not need the practice, especially considering that the "homework" was a ditto where we were expected to color a picture of a Roman soldier- in the 7th grade, for crying out loud. Homework was 60% of our grade, the assignment on Vietnam was 20% of our grade, and our exams were the other 20%. In other words, it was possible to get a C in the class if you did your homework, but scored a zero on every test.

My son had similar problems, and I argued with one of his teachers, who insisted that Egypt was not in Africa. I assured her that I had actually been to Egypt, and that is exactly where it was when I was there. I even showed her a map. She still insisted that I was wrong.

I have no real point to this, except to say that our educational system is awful. Do your homework of coloring the pictures, get a zero on your tests, graduate from school. No wonder we have so many idiots in this country.

But hey, at least we can sit back and drink our Brawndo, because it has what we need- electrolytes.


Brendan said...

I can remember reading "Catcher and the Rye" in 10th grade and arguing with the teacher about if the book starts in Winter or Fall. Using the schedules of most private schools, the regular season for HS Football, and the definition of when Winter starts, I demonstrated that the argument for Fall was stronger than Winter. She put the same question on the final and I answered Fall and lost the points again.

John B said...

ironically I had an argument with a know-it-all who swore blind that Egypt wasn't part of Africa. Cos Africa was only for black people, and any one who wasn't black shouldn't be there.

I intend to sneak into all of his records and credentials, and burn all proof that he has a masters in education. Willful ignorance at this level must be opposed.....