As I type this, it’s the start of August, and as such, it’s the end of summer vacation for most pre-collage aged children. For most people under the age of 21, it’s a somber time, as your carefree, summertime youth is suddenly interrupted by a sharp end to what little freedom you have, and you are thrust into the cold, heatless and unforgiving school system, where you must endure another year of conformity.
And for the over 21 crowd… it’s one of the happiest times of the year! For parents, it means an extra 8 hours each day of their tiny, two legged mistakes being someone else’s problem, and for non-parents, it means an awful lot less trolling until December. Why? Because teenagers are hit with so much useless and time consuming work, that they have no time to spend spamming YouTube with hate.
I’ve never missed being in public school. The three years I spent there, plus the six months I worked at a school supply store/teacher’s aide, showed me enough ignorance to last a lifetime. I doubt I could meet a more ignorant lot, but then I really shouldn’t challenge fate. My best school years were spent being homeschooled, where I had access to un-edited books and contact teachers that actually cared what happened to me. A luxury the common public school refuses to allot your little ankle-biter.
With the exception of about 5-6 teachers I can vaguely remember, the majority of teachers I’ve dealt with have been moronic, self-centered, lazy and unimaginative. And it startles me, considering that most of them come from good, and financially well off schools. More shocking? If you’re reading this, you may have been spoon-fed the exact same crap I have been!
So here are a few pearls of stupidity I’ve received from teachers and other school based shysters.
~ Math without a calculator ~
I wasn’t a bad math student, I got straight A’s and a few A+’s, but I wasn’t by any means a math whiz. It took me longer to solve a math problem than it did say science or sociology, so to this day I keep a calculator with me.
One day, I caught one of my teachers snatching a calculator away from a boy in my class during a math lesson. Now mind you, just the same week, this woman was on me for not bringing a calculator to class, so imagine my shock when the boy gets reprimanded for using the very thing she told him to bring. Why even ask a kid to bring a calculator to school, if you don’t want him to use it?
So I asked her point blank “Why can’t we use a calculator in class?”
Without blinking, she whipped around and said “Because Koriander, you have to learn how to do math in your head by yourself. When you grow up and then get old, you won’t be able to rely on technology. You will have to balance a checkbook and figure out receipts all by yourself. Technology won’t be able to help you then. We do not now nor will we EVER live in a technologically based society.” She said just two rooms away from the computer room.
Fast forward to today. Everyone has a smart phone. Every phone has a calculator built into it. Every computer too. Every ounce of life is now technologically based. We now even have gadgets that order us about. I wonder where that idiot is now? Suri?
~ Mars ~
It was always considered a “special treat” to see the teacher wheel in the television and VCR stand. Cable in the Classroom programs had just started up, but none of them were really anymore educational than Nickelodeon’s Nick News, so until they became popular, the teachers would just bring in random tapes. Most of the time, they were videos about drug abuse, saving the environment, how to avoid being raped and dental care, but on one such day in 1995, the teacher brought in a tape she made of then recent episodes of Frontline and Nova.
The episodes were about the possibility of space travel, to places further than the moon. A boring two hours, but still informative. At least, what I was allowed to see. The teacher kept fast-forwarding and telling us not to look. I don’t know why, I’ve seen the episodes uncensored, and there wasn’t anything gross, sexual or offensive. Hmm.
So she eventually stops on a segment about the potential for visiting Mars. A scientist and an astronomer start talking about the red planet, and a really BAD CGI rendering of Mars made on a GeoWorks PC. This was laughably bad, just barely mode 7 graphics, but it was at the same time a decent, early 90’s representation of the surface of Mars.
As the CGI plays, the teacher stops the tape. She places her hands on her hips, and stares us down, angrily.
“You SEEEEEEE??? This just PROVES that there is NO life on Mars, there is NOTHING up there, not even rocks, and it is FOOLISH to think that there is life anywhere but here. You can stop thinking that there are little green men, stop believing in aliens, they do NOT exist. See? The video proves it!!” She placed her hands on her hips. “And FURTHERMORE we are NEVER going to Mars EVER. There’s no way we can travel that far, okayyyy??”
Up went my hand. Only I didn’t wait for her to call my name. I stood up.
“Excuse me, but how can you base the idea that there is NO life on ANY other planet, on a CGI made on a GeoWorks PC?”
The teacher’s eyes darted to my direction. “What is a CGI? You’re talking nonsense, Kori. This video proves there is no life out there.”
In case you’re wondering, my teacher was a college graduate. I had to walk past her framed degree every day to get to my desk.
“First of all, CGI is short for Computer Generated Imagery. Meaning that this is essentially a cartoon, created using a computer instead of pen and ink. Second, this video did not prove or even mention that there is or is not life on Mars, or on any other planet for that matter. YOU made up that claim, based on a computer cartoon! They made up a computer cartoon of the surface of Mars. They never mentioned anything about life, no life or even little green men. Play the rest of the tape.”
My mother of course was called in, since the teacher was claiming I made up the words CGI, GeoWorks, Windows 3.1 and troglodyte, the latter being a word I used to describe her. But even when my mom, principal and vice-principal all showed her books and data from NASA, and even sat with her to watch the end of the Frontline tape, she still insisted there was no life on Mars, and furthermore, no way we would ever make contact with said planet. “Rockets can’t go THAT far” she told my mother.
When I started drawing the cartoon attached to this blog, our space team was busy landing another rover on Mars. So far, we’ve seen rocks, microbes and shadowing, proving that at the very least, if not little green men, then something at some time has existed on Mars. Rocks you see are formed of minerals, which are certainly made up of much more than “nothing”.
~ Give your kid a head start! ~
I bet you’ve seen the ads for ABCmouse.com. And if you haven’t, you’ve seen countless pre-pre-school “smartening” items and who knows, maybe you had them yourself as a kid. Hooked on Phonics, Baby Einstein, Your Baby Can Read, I’ll bet your mother blasted you in-utero with Mozart set to “deafen” on the headphones she placed over her stomach.
Every other ad says the same thing. “You only have a 1-7 year window of opportunity to teach your child everything in the world! Use it now with our system! After age 7, children CAN’T learn anything at all.” by this logic, we shouldn’t even have school or Rosetta Stone, because if the window for learning cuts off at age 7, then there really has never been a need for college. Nobody would ever learn a new language, how to work a new gadget, hell, you wouldn’t even be able to learn how to take care of a baby.
What these ads fail to tell you, is that all you’re really cramming your kid with isn’t knowledge. It’s stress. Baby Einstein for example has been blamed for reduced test scores and raised stress levels in the kids who were raised off of it when it first came out.
Another thing they fail to tell you is that this so-called “head start” is actually detrimental to any child attending public school. Often, teachers tell students (as mine certainly did) to “tone it down” and to “stop acing so many quizzes, stop doing so well, you’re making the other kids feel bad, and it’s hurting their self esteem when they can’t keep up” this was something I was told, and my mother was even told as a child!
Also, the smarter you are, the more trolling you face online and the harsher the bullying face to face. I was once punched square in the face for doing better than a boy I went to school with. He had been left back a few years, while I was a gifted child.
Worse? Assuming your child “does” really well in school, he still isn’t any more likely to get a decent job as an adult than if he was a moron. I have several friends in my life right now with multiple degrees, and none of them are earning even one penny more than I am.
And in case you are wondering if it’s safe yet to ditch the head start programs, here’s a little more food for thought:
Dave Thomas was a high school drop out. He founded Wendy’s and also founded a charity for orphans.
Bill Cosby failed the 10th grade, and wouldn’t complete High School for several years. It took him longer to get to college. He’s a famous comedian and actor.
George Washington dropped out at 15 and spent his youth growing hemp with his brother. He became an army general and America’s first president.
Jersey Shore’s Snooki actually made it all the way through school and is a college graduate.
College is not all it’s cracked up to be.
~ If you don’t do well in pre-school, you’ll never go to college! ~
When I started working at a school supply store, it was September, still early enough for some kids to start late. We were one week removed from an ugly teacher’s strike, so the store was severely short handed.
My first week there, I saw a few teachers bullying some young parents. “If Jeremy doesn’t learn his shapes right NOW, he’ll NEVER go to college. If Susie doesn’t shape up and learn how to share, she will NEVER make it to college”. Mind you, these were PRE-SCHOOL teachers, meaning it’s YOUR job to TEACH SHAPES AND SHARING!!!
The mom and dad of Susie were the ones that hurt the most to watch. While the other parents just quietly nodded their heads like victims of abuse, this couple looked to be no older than I am now. Both of them turned away from the teacher that was by this point laughing in my store, and the mother started to cry.
I stepped in.
First I made it quite clear to the teacher that if she could not conduct herself as an adult, that her patronage was not welcome at my store. She tried bullying me back, calling me a bitch and an additional word rhyming with “pick” but I wouldn’t back down. No business suit has ever scared me, and certainly I wasn’t going to tolerate this abuse any further. Realizing intimidation wasn’t going to work, she paid for her crayons and left.
Next, I turned my attention to the young parents, and offered a tissue to each of them. The father was tearing up, and both lamented to me that Susie was their only child. I can remember her name, because most of the parents that came into the store had children with more modern names. Susie isn’t a very popular name these days. Anyway, Susie had just turned four, but was not getting sharing, colors or shapes very well, and this was now the second adult to tell them Susie might never make it to college. The first being a day care attendant.
I pulled the two aside, and quietly explained a few notes, some of which I eventually used for a blog on College here: http://codenamesailorearth.blogspot.com/2012/01/truth-about-sat-other-school-bs.html
“For starters, the average college does not care where you went to pre-school. They equally do not care at what age Susie learns her colors or shapes. As long as she has enough money, Susie can go to whatever college she wants to. And second, they don’t seem to care if she ever learns how to share. Most children don’t naturally want to share their toys until they’re about seven years old, and it’s not a class her future college will ever grade her on. If anything, with the rampant abuse of sex and drugs at such universities as Penn State, they’d prefer if she didn’t share at all.”
After calming the young couple down, I quietly slipped them some information on Homeschooling. Specifically, I gave them the information to one of the homeschooling associations I went through as a child: http://www.clonlara.org/. I did the same for a few of the other bullied parents.
A week later, I was pulled aside by my boss, herself a substitute teacher on the side. She asked me to quit telling parents about homeschooling. She noticed a drop in the number of students at the school she went to, and she was already sick of the smug smiles on the parents that were coming back to shop for their books.
I was very happy… not to oblige.
~ You need the coolest up to date school gear, now get rid of it all, here’s our mandated list of what is or is not ok to have. ~
I was a child of the 90’s and of course, consumerism had it’s grasp on me. I was secretly enamored with the idea of being a cool kid, and I wanted everything I saw. Air hockey tables, electronic games, my dreams used to be filled with them. (I still do check out the tables at thrift stores.) Now most of the ads I grew up with were laughably bad with cheesy music, but when you’re little, it seems like the coolest thing.
Yikes pencils, Trapper Keepers, pencil boxes with funky designs and backpacks with the latest cartoon or logo were all the rage. And while I didn’t have everything I saw, I had what I thought was cool. A pencil box with a black and rainbow cat, Mead notebook, Crayola and Rose Art crayons, generic triangle pencils in the style of Yikes, and of course, one or two Lisa Frank items. I was SO ready for school!
… Wait, what’s this?
Well day one of 2nd grade, I was sent home with a note, explaining that I was going to be thrown out, unless I came to school prepared with what the school deemed appropriate. Here’s a little glance at what I was asked to bring with me:
1. A plastic pencil box. (My cardboard black kitty box, which had served me well for the first two years was not up to their standards, because it didn’t have a closure.)
2. Basic, bland #2 pencils. (While all trendy pencils are #2, the teacher claimed that they were too outrageous and offensive. How bright yellow offended her I don’t know, but..)
3. A pink eraser. (Why?? Pink erasers smear pencil lead, don’t work and turn rock hard after 6 months of using them!)
4. Standard box of 8 Crayola crayons. (My box of 64 was offending the other students. Apparently having extra crayons ruins a student’s self esteem.)
5. A plain notebook. (WHY?? We never used these things!)
6. A bottle of standard, white glue AND glue sticks.
7. A pair of children’s safety scissors with a plastic handle. (The metal children’s safety scissors which can’t even cut hot butter were deemed not safe enough.)
We were banned from bringing in our own pencil sharpeners, even though we were all asked initially to bring them. Pencils, backpacks and notebooks with colors and characters were banned, because the school felt they sent the wrong message. (I suppose my Surfin’ Tweety Bird notebook was sending a subliminal message telling kids to punt babies.)
My plain blue and yellow backpack was deemed school appropriate, so at least that wasn’t one more expense. But still I was not happy to have to emergency change out my entire gear, just to make the school happy. You can imagine how more angry I was when one of my school bullies was allowed to have a copy of the exact pencil box I was told not to bring anymore.
Now most schools have these lists, making me question why there even are school supply companies that are allowed to sell character based supplies to parents? Sure they look awesome, and make any office or school situation a little less ugly, but many schools won’t allow some of it. I also wonder why we don’t just have the schools supply this crap. What on earth are we wasting tax dollars on, if the parents are the ones paying for everything from uniforms and supplies to lunches and sport programs?
Well at the end of the year, the entire class came back home with all of the junk we were required to bring. Here’s what it all looked like in my bag:
1.The plastic pencil box started to break after two uses. By week two the hinge of it had a massive hole in the corner and it was crumbling. My cardboard pencil box by the way still works, despite being 20 years old, and never needed a closure.
2. The erasers on the #2 pencils hardened the third month I had them, and the leads kept falling out.
3. The pink eraser smeared the lead like crazy and became hard and unusable within six months. It also made everything reek of eraser.
4. Out of 8 crayons, only the black and red crayons were ever used completely. We were banned from using the other colors, and in art class we used markers.
5. The plain notebook was never used. We had worksheets for every lesson, so there was never a need to take notes.
6. The glue sticks were used sparingly, but the bottle of glue was not used at all. For projects were were handed the teacher’s glue, making the bottle useless.
7. The safety scissors were used once. But after a kid threatened to stab me with her own pair, the teacher decided we should use the school scissors instead. The plastic kind that’s white on one handle, and then on the other handle it’s either blue, peachy-salmon, red, black, yellow or green. Right, because that makes sense.
I asked the teacher why I had been asked to replace my original school gear, and I was told that I needed to be seen as presentable, so that in the future, I would come across as sophisticated, and make it into a good college. “Koriander! What if someone sees you with THAT notebook!?”
Ah… they might think I’m a kid… in school… who likes Looney Tunes.
And now that I think about it as an adult, what kind of college administrator would peek in on a second grade class, to see what notebook I was bringing in?? No seriously, unless you are a parent or legal guardian, you’ve got no business trolling a grade school. Back off Pedobear, maybe I LIKE Looney Tunes, what’s it to ya?
~ Pennies ~
One day while working at the school supply store, I had five teachers come in, each with special orders. It was one of the rare times I had to punch in their tax exempt receipts, since two of the five came from church schools. The other three came from schools that just called ahead.
Well before I could help each of them with their order, I had to check out a mom of three. She was one of the few parents that came in with behaved children. She was a little short on cash, and had to purchase a slightly cheaper book instead of the one she wanted. She paid for the book in full, in cash and in change. Very nice lady.
From behind her, I heard the impatient teachers grumbling and snickering about her having change. Grown adults mind you.
So up comes the first of the five, and I punch in her order. She paid me $20 for a $19.99 purchase, which meant I owed her one cent in change. So with cheer, I handed her a receipt and one penny.
“EW what is wrong with you? TAKE THAT AWAY!!!” She screamed at the penny. “What are you doing giving me THAT??”
I point out the total on the receipt and explain that she is owed exactly one penny. This causes the other four teachers to laugh.
“Why haven’t you heard? Pennies are going to be obsolete in a few months! Prices have gone up so fast that the penny is no longer going to be the lowest denomination. Nickels will be the lowest you can go. Besides” Further explained the first teacher “change is such an outdated form of cash. It weighs down my purse and is SO heavy!! Two years from now, we will only have credit and cash.”
Each of the teachers begged me to put their change on something easier to carry, like a gift card. I needed the manager to help me convince them that the store forbade us from putting and amount of money under $5 onto one of these cards.
Well it’s been five years since this episode played out, and pennies have not been phased out. In fact when you go to McDonald’s, they still ask for pennies for the Ronald House charity. And I’ve yet to meet another soul who scoffs at change, since money is money.
I often wonder how some people become teachers.