31 October 2009

12 Problems with Public Education

. . . What's wrong with public education? Nothing, except the schools!

First thing, I do fully support the notion of public schools for all, but I do not necessarily support the way public schools operate. The following issues and opinions are based solely on my experience as a student in the public schools of Livonia, Michigan, from 1970 to 1982. I have no knowledge as to how things are being done today, but I expect that a lot of these issues are ongoing, and that a lot of other school systems have these issues as well.

(Aside: I've often thought about collecting a book full of "teacher screws" -- that's what I call any true event in which a school official screws an innocent student in some way or other. Every person I have ever mentioned this idea to has had at least one "teacher screw" story to tell. I have dozens of 'em. This list includes three as representative samples.)

1. Exams.

Exams prove only what you can memorize and have nothing to do with learning. Yet everyone worries themselves to death over them. What a big waste of time and effort.

2. Honors.

Back when I was in school this was always a big deal but I did not understand what it meant and no one ever explained it satisfactorily. (Wikipedia has finally solved this problem.) But seriously, education should not be confused with competition.

3. Grade levels based on age.

Completely stupid.

4. Bullying.

Twelve years of being merciless bullied in public school and never once did I see a grown-up interfere with a bastard who was bullying me. Sometimes a teacher or administrator was right there and saw it all but seemed to pretend it wasn't happening. Several times I got in trouble for defending myself (not with violence). On only one occasion a creep who had been bullying me actually got in trouble, but this was 1) only after I had absolutely refused to go to school, and 2) only after my mom complained to the school. I could write reams on this topic.

5. Arbitrary rules.

Found out about a lot of their stupid rules only after I had broken them. Ask yourself if that's fair.

6. Bells.

Can't think of a worse thing to do to innocent school children then to make them jump when you ring a bell. All day. Like living in a prison.

7. Time increments.

Each class is 54 minutes long. Then you have six minutes to get to the next class. Six minutes of extra hell, five times a day. And the bells.

8. Regimentation.

Same stupid routine, every day. Who thinks this is good for learning?

9. The food.

I was lucky and did not have to rely on the school food, because given my difficulties with most food, I would have starved.

10. Freedom of speech, not.

One story of many on this topic: Wore a t-shirt to school once that said "They must think I'm a mushroom cause they keep me in the dark and feed me on bull crap." I was called to the office and told to put on a shirt from my gym locker, or, if I didn't have a shirt in my gym locker, to turn the shirt inside out. I was not allowed to wear the shirt in a way that people could actually read it.

11. Enforced nudity.

Yup. Eighth grade gym class. Teacher required you to shower at the end of class, and to be seen showering, and to be completely naked, and for you to present yourself to the student aide who would make sure you were completely naked before you started your shower. Needless to say I never once took a shower in that class. This was to avoid public humiliation from the nudity. At the end of the semester I was publicly humiliated anyway by the same accursed teacher who announced I was "most likely to never take a shower."

12. Pay phone.

There was a pay phone in my high school. It was in the hallway where anyone could use it. On a few occasions I escaped from the bullies and bastards for a few minutes by pretending to be on the phone during lunch hour or in between classes. I promptly got in trouble for "using the phone too much." Hunh?? What is the phone doing there in the first place? What is "too much?" And who the hell was watching me use the phone?


Thanks for reading with a sympathetic heart.

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