When my fourth grade teacher, Mr. Healy, asked for potential solutions to our country’s refuse problem I thought, in my typical ‘hey, I’m only in the fourth grade but have the balls to raise my hand today’ kind of way, maybe we should send all of the garbage into space, or shoot it into the sun or something. That was the general idea, and, no, I still haven’t gotten over his reply. Now, he could have discussed the cost of such a venture, or the logistics of flying daily to the sun with a shuttle full of empty milk cartons, but instead my astute teacher, who always liked Kimmy Grenawitz best, said, and this part I remember quite vividly, “Space is the last place we want to pollute!”
Space; infinite, empty space; our sun, the giant yellow incinerator, thingie. Whaaaa?
Not only did he say this with the exclamation point, and the italics, but he added the derogatory inflection as well (try as I might, I could not find the derogatory inflection button on my keyboard). Why do I think this statement reflects a generation of teaching? Well, I don’t, but it was a damn stupid response to make to a fairly reasonable fourth grader. Overall I had a very good experience in school, minus Kimmy Grenawitz! But I did think, even way back then, that we have some serious educational gaps to fill in this country, besides Mr. Healy.
Let’s shift to my daughter’s experience, my little microcosm of America, a girl born in central PA, who until recently attended the best public elementary school in the district. She’s only in third grade and she was already threatened with rather elaborate violence and pushed from the monkey bars, twice. One incident resulted in a fractured wrist and for the second incident she was lucky enough to land on her head. No one saw anything either time and both third grade perpetrators are still at large. Recently she was studying for her PSSAs, which I believe stands for (Pennsylvania Sucks Serious Ass). She was worried about these regional tests because as she puts it, “If I fail my teacher could get fired.” She also told me during her math homework, the same day, “I can’t work ahead, daddy, or I’ll get yelled at.”
No child left, period.
Forget my daughter; what does she know? Certainly not math. Let’s take my own undergraduate “work.” I was talking with my old philosophy professor over dinner recently. I mentioned how his class was so enjoyable that I even attended now and again. Perhaps, it wasn’t my fault my attendance was so bad, maybe, just maybe, it is the professor’s job to make the coursework remotely interesting (after all, wasn’t I the customer?). He laughed at the comment and then told me “space is the last place we want to pollute!”
Dr. Dan can be a bastard.
I changed majors from biology to psychology my sophomore year mainly because of the suckiness of the course work (although, admittedly, the decision may have been influenced by my tendency to spend my spare time chasing women toward the nearest keg). Years later, I asked the professor’s assistant, my friend Tim, why invertebrate zoology sucked so bad. I remember saying, I watch jellyfish on TV all the time and they seem interesting enough (the last Democratic Convention comes to mind).
“It was a ‘weed out’ course,” he explained, “you know, to see if you are reeeaaallly interested in jellyfish.”
Why don’t we try to inspire our youth instead of weed them out?
Tim said, “space is the last place….” (you get the idea.)
Onward to my graduate work. My MS in psychology was completed totally on-line. Doing class work and homework entirely from a coffee shop is, perhaps, the apex of human accomplishments (next to striped toothpaste). Now, if we could only figure out what to do with all this garbage. Hmmm.
I only lost points in e-college when I used non-recovery model language. Knowing things is not horribly important anymore in our society, but cultural sensitive issues are paramount. A hundred-thousand dollars later and our children can learn how not to offend the socio-economically challenged, opiate dependent person they are over medicating (I say pocket the hundred grand and arrest that damned hobo junkie).
The cost of education has risen 440 percent in the last decade and treating EVERYTHING like a business in this country is starting to backfire worse than the Ghetto Shaman after a burrito eating contest.
Which career pays 440 percent more in the last decade? How long is this stupidity sustainable? I feel like telling my kids to study for their future positions the way God intended, in public libraries.
This generation seems immune to the Flynn Effect. There is an Intelligence Quotient cliff that Americans just did a Thelma and Louise off of. Eventually the peer-reviewed research is going to start reflecting this fact (then again, when the peers are sitting in the driver’s seat of said convertible…). These are all reasons taken quite arbitrarily and, by themselves, I don’t really think they say much (except about that brown-noser Kimmy Grenawitz!). What it does do for me, however, is start to draw a picture, oh wait, arts have been cut too.