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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Preventative Education

I’ve been randomly taking classes at my local community college over the past few years. I don’t need the classes for anything, I’m not trying to use them to get a degree, but I am taking them for credit, just in case. I’m paying for the classes myself, and not using any type of financial aid.

I have to pay for the classes myself as I make too much money for financial aid. In fact, I’ve never been eligible for financial aid, other than student loans. When I first went to college (many years ago) my parents made to much money. And even though I didn’t live at home with them, I was under the age limit and so there incomes attributed to my eligibility. My parents income prevented me from financial aid, yet they contributed no money to my actual education.

It’s getting time to sign up for spring quarter and I want to re-take a class I took in college many years ago. It’s been a while, and now they have pre-requisites they want for it. So I call up the instructor and say, “I’ve already taken this class in the past. I’ve already passed this class in the past. but I’d like to take it again, since it’s been a while and I wasn’t satisfied with the grade I received.” He informed me that I needed the pre-requisites. I went down the school, got the run around and eventually through showing my records and talking to him, I was finally let into the class. This involved way more time and effort than it should have.

Once I tried taking an advanced photography class, but same thing. The teacher wanted me to take photography 101 first. The thing is, I’ve already done a certification program at another school, and totally knew everything in the 101 class, but I let him talk me into the 101 class. I dropped it after the second week. The class was as I expected. I knew everything and wanted to shove a pen in my eye, just to make it interesting.

One time, I did actually talk a teacher into letting me into a class without the pre-requisite. I ended up with a B in that class. So really, was the pre-requisite necessary? No.

My freshman year of high school, I skipped class a lot. As punishment for skipping I was suspended. I wasn’t given more work as punishment. Work was taken away from me. And as a teenage kid, this is viewed as a good thing. Teenagers don’t want to go to class. I also once had a teacher try to get me kicked out for smoking pot because I would show up for school with red eyes. Anyone who has seen me in the morning knows, I’m not a morning person. Sure, I smoked pot many times in high school, just never before her class.

A friend of mine has a couple of kids, and told me that they were off school last week. This is only a month and half away from winter break, and a month or so before spring break. Most every time I talk to her it seems that her kids are out of school for some reason or another. Teacher days, half days, vacation days, etc.

Most teachers complain about the job, the lousy parents, the students, and of course the pay. Yet, when it comes down to it, they don’t work 8 hour days (unless they do after school programs), and they get paid for summer vacation. I don’t believe they ever go a full month of having to work 5 days a week.

It used to be the purpose of school was to get an education. To learn from people who wanted to teach. Everyone wanted the students to be there because they were the future. And it was the education systems job to prepare them for the future. Unions, a flawed system full of standardized tests, angry absent parents, and disobedient uninterested students have all contributed to a new system of education. A system that discourages all involved.

We no longer want to get an education for the sake of learning. We force ourselves through it because we want a piece of paper. A piece of paper that proves we are able to sit in a classroom long enough to retain information and pass a test. A test that proves we are just like everyone else. Being intimately close to a teacher, I respect her for doing what she does. She genuinely cares about her students and wants them to learn. But I also hear about the hassle she has to go through in order to do her job, and I wonder how long will it be before she goes from the enthusiastic first year teacher she is now, to the uninterested burnt out instructor, who only looks forward to summer vacations, and reasons to discourage students from entering her class, so that it is one less student to have to deal with.



1 comment:

Quorri Scharmyn said...

Bravo! Thank you for expressing all of my own thoughts and frustrations! Jeeeeesus Christ... It's like we intentionally set everything up to fail, I swear.

And thank you :) But, you know, I already do discourage students from transferring into one of my classes! Ha! I'm so screwed....