No Child Allowed Ahead

Well, this took a bit longer than I thought.

As is often custom in a place such as Gourmands, I found myself dicussing film and literature with a couple of friends between breaks in our various endeavors in writing. As we discussed the works of undeniable geniusses such as Adams, Thompson, Twain, and Beckett (to name a few), something hit me.

There is simply no way that American public schools can in their current state nurture that kind of genuis.

I know what I'm talking about. I was writing on my own before I ever went to school (nothing amazing, but the point is I was doing it). However, with the exception of one instance that I'll get to in a moment, public school put a nine-year hold on my creative writing.

I'm not saying it forced me to stop writing creatively, that's just what happened. I often refer to school as the thing that taught me how to get by without doing work, and that's still the case, but right now we're heading into something more urgent. See, I was just getting out of the public school system as the standardized testing craze began. It never took full effect before I left for a private high school. Nowadays, lesson plans are developed with the testing in mind. And with the possibility of a national standardized test for public schools looming on the horizon, it will only get more absurd.

The attitude in public education has been of late increasingly focused on getting the stragglers over the hump. Those students who are like I was are no longer being challenged, because no one's job is on the line over the realization of their potential. The result? Unless there's something specific pushing them, they stop working. Even when I was in school, there was a lack of attention paid to the gifted students. The greatest extent to which my needs were fufilled was in second grade, when my female counterpart from a different class and I were given the assignment to write a short story. We weren't actually taught anything about writing stories, mind. It's just that we were both frustratingly (for the teachers) ahead of the class, so they said, "why don't you write a story?" So we wrote. For a month, I worked on a story of mine. I had no idea what I was fucking doing, and in that aspect I was unhelped so it wasn't great, but the point is I was writing. I was learning by doing.

As my style might suggest, I am not a neat person. I do not want to tell you what my workspace looks like right now. In fact, I don't even want to know, and that is the reason that my attention here is focused directly at my screen. The point is, I had a rather messy desk at the time (this was back when we used those old desks that you stored things in.) My second grade teacher, who I hope for her sake I never meet again (I obviously wouldn't hurt her, but I can be really scary when I'm angry) almost certainly cared more about the cleanliness of my desk than my progression as a student. I was kept after class after failing one of her desk inspections, and she removed everything from inside. When she got to the folder containing my work, that INSIPID FUCKING BITCH tore it in half. She didn't know much (There were a few aspects of knowledge that I at that point had mastered better than her; more a testament to her stupidity than my intelligence.), but she knew DAMN FUCKING WELL that the thing she held in her hands was a month's worth of work, in fact the thing I worked the most on at any point in my time at public school.

However, that wasn't what mattered. What mattered was that because my desk was messy, I was a nuisance to the class, and that the folder which contained the fruits of my labor was part of the problem. It would be seven years before I actually put any effort into schoolwork again.

I'm not saying that my experience was a typical one. What I am saying is that I'm probably not the only one who's had such an experience. Also, the mentality that led to my teacher tearing my work up in front of me has increased since I was in public school. Programs for gifted students have been sacrificed on the alter of standardized testing, for which some schools actually now dedicate entire classes. Anyone who is ahead of the mark for standardized testing is not given any challenges, and is thus allowed to stagnate. If you thought Holden Caulfeild was fucked up, you just see where things go if this trend continues.

Anyway, I made mention that I was going to blog about this on Dylann's comment board, in response to a post about children who were forced to sell candy for their school.

The federal Department of Education was established to regulate education at a federal level. In a country where students often cross the country in to go to college, this makes sense, but here's the problem:

Schools are funded at a local level, and thus the funding varies signifigantly from city to city. There are, in fact federal grants, but they don't do nearly all of the things that they should be doing. Especially not if some kids need to go door to door at 7 in the morning.

We've spent a shiltload of money on a National Missle Defense Sheild that was supposed to be functional by this September, but hasn't even showed any degree of success, and has been lampooned as a pipe dream by most reputable scientists. We're going for broke on it nonetheless. Why can't we do the same for our schools?


  1. Hey dude. I've been enjoying your blog since you told me about it, but i haven't commented on it mainly because i generally don't have any substantial thought. However, you've touched upon an issue i have deep concerns over. Standardized testing sucks. I was one of the guinea pigs for the MCAS, which i failed during the 'tryout'. And you are absolutely right about the direction education is going, spending on missles & classes geared towards just passing the MCAS. My sister teaches at the Voke, and she was telling me about the MCAS classes. I wasn't the gifted kind of kid.. infact, until i was on the honor roll every quarter during my first 2 years in high school, they still had me monitored by SPED. I hate the fact a child must pass the MCAS, i believe they must pass it 3-4 times before the final time in high school.. However, if a kid has failed it every single time before his senior year,is he likely to try passing it or saying fuck it? Dave A. described it perfectly when he compared it to a boy asking out a girl 5 times, being rejected each time, and then asking them to marry him. The education system is severely flawed, and it's unfortunate that MCAS is probably here forever. I can only imagine there are many kids like yourself and myself, who won't get the opportunity to advance or give up on it because they're not challenged. I'm a college graduate, and an Eagle Scout, and both are direct results from my education as a young kid. I'm going back to elementary school, because they have MCAS testing for even them. Due to funding, and laws, MCAS classes are required. The problem here is SPED programs are cut to compensate, or music, or sports, or arts, you get my idea. If my SPED program was cut while i was in 3rd grade, I wouldn't have received the extra support that changed my life in 5th grade. Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration a bit, but not really much. Due to the help I got in 5th grade, my interest in school improved, which means my interest in new things increased, which means my decision to join 603 was impacted. I'm not sure how other people feel about BSA and whatnot, but without those experiences, there's no way an interest in college wouldn't even happened for me.

    To make a long story short, I think MCAS and public education in general needs to be overhauled. Treat kids as they are, unique. There is no need to make the average student, the average grade, the perfect test everyone must pass. It's bogus. If you work a childs mind, you give them boundless possibilities, whether or not they can all do algebra or not. Equally stimulate an education to the best of everybody's ability. The old army slogan, 'be the best you can be'. I suck at math, it's a fact. i'm okay with it...

    that's all i had to say really. Good times in bloggerland.

  2. thanks for posting. I'm not even begginning to suggest that SPED be cut. I'm just saying that the Federal Department of Education should focus less on regulating schools and more on funding them. The idle child geniuses of today may well be the UNAbombers of tommorrow. I know that's being dramatic, but still.

  3. hey dude. Yeah,i definitely understand what you're saying, and i agree. That's why i shared the SPED aspect, it just shows how incredibly fucked up the system is. Funding over regulation, it's the obvious choice for us, but somehow lacking in the political spectrum. Go figure.

  4. our country's young artisans are always the first to get the boot when it comes to funding. no matter the craft, whether it be gifted writers/poets, skillful painters or the musically inclined, our government odviously deems them all obsolete.

    like i said before, the government and i are political combatants. and i don't think we'll ever find common ground. but i give it time. RIDE THE TIDES and see what happens..

    sometimes E.W. and Mickerdoo, the REAL heroes aren't the ones who WIN the gold, they're the ones who'd never forfeit the game -- even when the odds were against them.

    i admire your passion, boys.

    "WRITE" ON!

  5. you know, I just reread my post and the word "hubris" came to mind. To clarify: I wasn't comparing myself to any of the people I mentioned at the top. I was simply saying that if someone like me idled at public schools, I can't imagine what it would be like for one of them.

    I was thinking about it and that given the more objective standards of education and ever-increasing FCC regulations on content, it seems that creativity is being assailed on both sides.