Sunday, February 13, 2005

The Principle of Division

"I never let my schooling interfere with my education."
-Mark Twain
I eagerly look forward to the rest of my life, because as it stands now, I really have no idea where this society will go. Call me a cynic, but I am more than a little upset at the current state of education. This is bad, considering I'm in the process of becoming a teacher.

Maybe it's because I'm old...er, but I honestly think the purpose for higher education has been replaced by finger counting, anxiety-ridden, paranoids. No, I don't think it's because of my age that I'm nearly disgusted with the whole ordeal, it was because of these problems that I left in the first place. But that's a private story. Let me just show you the facts and let you decide whether things are out of hand.

In my eighth grade year (to the best of my recollection at least) my parents and myself were asked to participate in some sort of High School prepatory meeting. In this meeting, my parents and I huddled over a series of grids, and there I mapped out the next four years of my academic life. Year by year (4 years), semester by semester (so...8 of those). These decisions were supposed to make it easier for you to hone your future endeavors, and make it an easy step from your last day in High School to your first day at college. To me this doesn't make much sense. In the eighth grade, the only things I knew about myself was that the X-Men comic was spiraling downhill after Jim Lee left, and that masturbation was incredibly awesome.

I was 13 in the eighth grade. If the world were some scary Brave New World/The Giver-type deal, and my stupid-ass decisions as a youngster determined the outcome of my life, then I would probably be a ronin, a.k.a. master-less samurai right about now. Either that or I'd be Wolverine. Both are cool, that's a given, but absolutely useless in today's job market (unfortunately).

Does anybody stick to these plans? Are there people who know what they want to do and where they want to go by age 13 (Mr. Guess excepted)? There probably aren't many. But we yearn for this pre-planned piousness, just rubbing those standards and goals into our fresh, wounded youthfulness. So, I guess I'm saying that was bothering me even before I got old...er.

I saw this freakish anal-retentiveness in High School, but it's even more prevalent in college. Kids with their TI-Infinities and calculating every grade, and checking their sum against the possible points available to the class. Dammit! I've got a crappy 81.368262518 percent! My Dad's going to kill me! I tried doing this once, to actually be worried about it, but I got bored quickly and went back to drawing on my notes (bad grades quickly ensued). I think my determination against this type of attentiveness extends to my attitude about keeping my checkbook balanced, which now really just acts as a yearbook for all the bills I've paid.

How can such dependence upon long division be the point of modern higher learning? What happened to the improvement of the mind? When did the joy of Homer's epics become replaced by utter dependence upon Cliffs Notes? Students groan at the thought of literature, art, and history. Modern students have devised complicated ways to avoid reading, or do as little of it as possible. All modern students want is an A, not knowledge, not betterment.

Because of this, I believe every college, despite its reputation, has been whittled down to being no more than vocational schools. But it's not the fault of the students. Students have adapted to the changing demands of school administrators, and their occupational desires and goals. What those may be, I leave up to the reader.

I get fed up easily when it comes to going to school, a process I seem to be invariably stuck in until the day I die...or graduate (we're taking bets on which comes first). I may be burned out (again) or simply a dude with some perspective. I don't know. I know I just get really discouraged when the students around me don't give a flip about the material I'm getting jazzed about. Would I be getting more out of it if I just stayed in the comfort of my home and read these wonderful books on my days off from work instead of spending over a grand a quarter (another issue I've got problems with) just to be squeezed through a play-dough spaghetti maker.

I've got to stop ranting now, or I'll never get the rest of my homework done. Divide that sum and smoke it.

1 comment:

Ryan said...

Man am I glad to be done with school! Sorry Deeb, I know it sucks. But at least you're not teaching Jr. High this week!