“School is a totl waist of time.”

Well, there you have it. A scathing-er indictment of U.S. education than its 18-year-old author knows. That little nugget was turned in to me today as part of a seven-word memoir assignment, as was “Who needs school, dude, we have computers” and “Blah blah blah blah blah fuck you.”

Have you ever thought that maybe we’re extending childhood too long in North America? On any other continent, in any other era, 17- and 18-year olds are married, have their own children, and work at least 8 hours a day. At the very least, they’ve got their own fruit stand. They’re adults. None of this my-mom-is-filling-out-my-community-college-application bullshit.

So I teach according to the Fruit Stand Principle. “You don’t need me to explain this assignment half a dozen times,” I’ll say to a kid who hasn’t listened all period. “In 9 months you’ll be one of us, wondering, ‘Who the hell is FICA and how did he get half my paycheck?'”

We’re one of the only nations that offers — that pushes — free public education through age 18. But there should be better options for kids who hate reading and writing; who’d be happier learning a trade or driving a truck or farming. If we had enough viable blue-collar jobs, we could lower the dropout age to, say, 13. That way, kids who watch the classroom clock and make paper-clip weapons wouldn’t take their boredom out on classmates who do want to be there; who will succeed academically given enough resources and time. It’d also be easier on crumbling school buildings, not to mention crumbling teachers.

I wish there were more viable blue-collar jobs.

I wish my students didn’t tell me they “hate” reading. I wish I could find THE book for each one of them that would make them lifelong readers.

I wish they understood that the limits of their knowledge are the limits of their lives.

6 thoughts on ““School is a totl waist of time.”

  1. Oooo! I like the “Blah blah blah blah blah fuck you” one! Now THAT’S the kind of attitude I like to see, a kid who is not afraid of failure! Or getting punched in the face!

    …the limits of their knowledge are the limits of their lives.

    That’s well said, and I’m pretty sure I’m digging where you’re coming from but I was hoping you’d take a minute to elaborate on that thought? Education/Knowledge is a big issue in Rad Fem Family land. 🙂

  2. I should have given proper credit to Wittgenstein, since he’s the one who said it 🙂

    I think it means that we can’t appreciate what we’re ignorant of — great things like art/philosophy/beauty/justice, and terrible things like who really runs this world; how the power structure works; how every minute there are forces at play that decide so many things for us even though we think we’re autonomously deciding for ourselves.

    If we take the time and energy to be knowledgeable about as many aspects of life as we can, our time on Earth is richer. More aware. More meaningful, both while we’re here and after we’re gone. I watch the kids walking through the halls, so many of them only thinking about where their next text message is coming from, and I wonder how we can help wake them up. I don’t seem to have any students passionate about the environment or politics or literature or anything outside of the bread and circus of mass entertainment. At least not yet.

    I sense apathy. A giving up. A selfishness more profound than typical adolescent selfishness. And I think it’s a reflection of our short-sighted, narcissistic popular culture. A bending of the zeitgeist in an unsavory direction.

  3. Here in the UK, we have (and have had since probably the late 90’s) NVQ’s (National Vocational Qualifications) which kids can do in college (which is what we call 16-18 education, before university) which involves getting proper qualifications by working, learning a trade (cooking/plumbing/engineering/health care .. you get the jist) and attending college one day a week for theory work. They get paid an ‘apprentice’ wage and get qualified. I don’t know if it works, we still have a big share of “fk the system” kids, but i guess, those who take part in those kinds of programmes, would otherwise have left school at 16 and gotten straight on benefits, or in to a zero skill job, because there was no other option for kids with a lack of academic skills, and therefore qualifications.

    Apologies for the number of brackets above 🙂

  4. Exactly! I wish we had something like Britain has. It definitely works — and when it doesn’t, it means the kid is really just lazy/unmotivated. There’s no excuse not to succeed to a certain extent.

  5. Thank you 🙂

    I also meant to bum out with you about not getting AP because I’m sure you would have made it a kick ass class.

    A Former AP Student

  6. I suppose having you as a teacher is better than nothing if tearing down schools isn’t an option in the present.

    That is the most awesome Marxist compliment I have ever received. I love it! I will be sharing it with my students tomorrow like a badge of honor….and thank you for reading, and for liking. I’m enjoying your site, too.

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