The reasons for my grudge against HS
Sometimes it seems like I can’t write a blog post without somehow complaining about high school, which means that when it comes time to submit my college apps, I’m deleting my name from every part of this site and using a different email. (Somehow, “myexplodingcat” doesn’t really sound very professional anyway.)
But in all honesty, and without any censorship… I hate high school!
And I don’t think I’ve elaborated much, here, on what exactly I think is wrong with the system. It’s probably just been a bunch of irritated angsty-looking stuff. I do have reasons–clear, logical, sensible reasons–that I don’t like the way high school is set up or (nearly) anything it does.
I have chosen to stick around high school for a few reasons. One is that I’m pretty sure you still have to be 17 to take the GED. The other is that they offer free dual-credit programming classes. By the end of this year, I’ll have five college classes done towards an Associate’s degree in Programming at my community college, which is my ticket to not working in food service during university.
Those classes are lovely and amazing and I get good grades in them. But the reason I hate high school is very much bound around the system, and the grades, and the high school credits.
1. Everything is centered around passing courses.
It’s about the grades. Nobody cares if you’ve learned anything. Do what you have to do in order to get an A, and then move on. Don’t learn; memorize. And if you’ve already learned how to do whatever the class is about? It doesn’t matter. You didn’t pass the course yet.
Is it just me, or are these priorities bat-flapping insane?
I’m good at getting the grades. I don’t mind hard work–actually, I like hard work as long as it’s well-thought-out and for a useful purpose. But passing some arbitrary course and getting a menial “A” is not motivational to me. I want to learn. I don’t find the idea of being officially recognized as having learned something exciting. An “A” doesn’t mean you understand the class’s subject matter.
Maybe the system works for somebody? I don’t know. I’ve looked for other ways out.
2. High school isn’t a place to learn.
It’s a place to prove that you’re a hard worker (or… something) so that some college will take you in. You spend four years proving that you can, in fact, sit down and study something for a few hours and not goof off.
And yeah, maybe you can get some value out of your classes if they’re in things you still need to master, and especially if it’s the subject you’re going to major in. But for some of your classes, it just doesn’t happen.
Early Western Civilizations? Fills the Social Studies requirement. Was it useful, entertaining, did it even just improve me as a human being? Heck no. The student teacher was a better teacher than the actual teacher, both of them taught straight off of PowerPoints when they weren’t showing movies that had little to do with the broad scope of what we were studying, and then they tested us at the end. They didn’t even collect our notebooks, which they said were going to be a big part of the grade. (This was probably just something they said so we’d take good notes.) It was like in The Education of Robert Nifkin, almost word-for-word. Personally, I was kind of impressed that the teacher had managed to make Romans and Greeks boring. *facepalm*
There’s no capitalistic competition between high schools. People aren’t paying them directly; it’s an obligatory tax thing, and if they want to send their son/daughter elsewhere, they have to pay extra. Public high schools don’t have to be good. They’re the default. The teachers can be folks who don’t actually like teaching, but did it anyway to avoid being drafted.
I want to be challenged, to be given assignments that I have to make myself good enough to do well. I do better work when given that kind of assignment. It’s like archery. No, not about targets; try the bow as a metaphor for once. A bow that you’re able to draw too easily won’t force you into the right stance to shoot it. But if you have to really use your muscles to pull it back and hold it as you aim, then by the time you fire, you’ll be standing correctly, with your arms and hands in just the right places.
Heh. A cat just spilled my glass of water on the floor, and I cleaned it *all* up with paper towels. No blotting or anything, I just wiped it up. 😀 😀 😀
3. High school is just a means to an end: college, the place where you actually learn.
I feel bad about being really anxious to go to college, because it kind of implies that I hate my parents or something. I love my folks. But I’m bored. I really want to get started doing something useful and interesting.
High school isn’t the place where you get an education. It’s a waste of time and government money (read: everyone’s money). All it is is a competition, to weed out the people who don’t actually care about the prize: college. We’ve gotten to a point where you need a bachelor’s degree for nearly every career. Bachelor’s degrees have become the new high school diploma: a sign that you’ve been basically educated and are ready for the work force.
But the reason college works is that–drumroll please–capitalism rules. People have to pay for a college education, so there’s a competition. The professors have to be good. You HAVE to learn something. Otherwise, people will just go somewhere else, and that college’s diploma wouldn’t be meaningful and valuable–like “money” drawn by a three-year-old. College has to be productive and worthwhile. Otherwise, nobody would pay for it, and nobody would care.
High school isn’t like that. It’s a place to stick your teenage kid until s/he’s eighteen or so and can go across the country to the college they want. It’s like a waiting room filled with magazines that are about very specific hobbies. Some people might find their time used well. Others (those who don’t like golfing or knitting or underwater basket-weaving) won’t. But reading those magazines is important to the people you’re waiting to see, and your doctor is probably going to quiz you on their contents or something to see how much you read. You can be like, “I don’t golf or knit,” but they don’t care.
Basically, society has just said to anyone aged 14-18, “You’re useless for anything important. I’ll pay some people to keep you occupied while you sit in this building, and give you this consensus-fueled motive for paying attention to them.” 400 years ago, those teenagers could’ve been captaining small ships and no one would have thought it was unusual. Now, we’re stuck in class. Admittedly, there was a lot less to learn 400 years ago, but we aren’t learning anyway.
4. I want to be in college.
To me, this in itself is a reason to dislike high school.
I feel bad about being anxious to start college, because it kind of implies that I hate my parents or something. I don’t. I love my folks dearly. But I’m bored.
I want to be in college because I dislike high school, and I dislike high school because I want to be in college. I don’t know how sound that logic is, but I’m going to go with it.
And in case you’re curious… this is my opinion on some of the stuff I’ve taken. As you’ll notice, a teacher can make or break a class…
Here is an honest list of the courses I liked in high school (that I can think of right now).
My French classes, except AP. I still remember some French.
My German classes.
My art classes, except AP. Especially Drawing. I took them because I liked them.
My Psych classes (both the normal and the dual-credit one). I don’t know whether it’s right to list these here, because I have a book that’s small and about an inch thick called Psych101, and it contains the entirety of both classes’ curriculum in an easier-to-understand format. But I didn’t mind being in the classes themselves, because I really like psychology.
All my programming classes. I learned something from them! Although it’s worth mentioning that taking a class in Java doesn’t mean you’re “able to program in Java.” They teach you the basics, and that’s about it.
Most of my Science classes. They were interesting, useful (did you know you can store carbon dioxide in a tub because it sinks? Also we learned how to make moonshine in Chemistry), and the teachers were cool.
My one TAG class. It was full of critical thinking exercises and other good stuff. And a lot of dry reading, but hey.
The class on politics–that was interesting, and useful, and I liked the teacher a lot.
Here is an honest list of the classes I hated in high school (that I can think of right now).
Physics–the teacher was awful, my dad taught me better
My math classes–teachers again. I don’t actually mind math.
AP French–Wasn’t the teacher’s fault–she’s a really good teacher. Circumstances were stacked against this class. Nine people made it through.
AP Art–Was the teacher’s fault. Controlling art teachers don’t work. Fortunately, I got mono, and was able to drop it.
Newspaper Lab–I have stories about this one. Man. You don’t want to know.
My writing/reading classes–not the teacher’s fault, and I actually (obviously) like writing and reading a lot. But they were so menial that they were meaningless.
My history classes. Actually, the one freshman year was okay, but Early Western Civ… see above.
My basic tech class, freshman year. Excuse me… I know how to use Microsoft Word. But this class is kind of necessary, because of the freshmen who are all like, “Um… teacher? I don’t have that web site on my computer.”
And with that… good night. 😉
This entry was posted on Monday, January 6th, 2014 at 2:49 am and is filed under Stuff. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.