Hit the Books

When I was a kid, school seemed like an endless flat road in front of me: monotonous; unavoidable; and no matter how far along I walked it, never ended. Sometimes a fun event would happen at school, like hot dog day or rehearsal for the holiday concert, but mostly it was one long bummer; a necessary evil. Even rarer still, I would occasionally feel ill, or have a dentist appointment, or doctor’s appointment so the regular school day would get interrupted. I would get a nice break from the classroom and the required cooperation with my teacher and fellow students.

I feel sorry for my kids, having to go through this day in and day out. Seriously. I wish I was wealthy like Will Smith and my kids were in the same position as Jayden and Willow Smith, who are free to hypothesize and learn what they want to learn, instead of the prescribed school curriculum. The dictated subject matter at traditional schools is staid, boring, and mostly impractical, in my opinion (obviously my opinion because this is my blog).

Can’t teachers make history more interesting? I love reading about ancient times and not so ancient times, and finding out the origins of companies; ones that morphed from being a parts supplier for airlines into building high-speed trains. Basically it’s too bad science and technology in school isn’t presented like on the tv show How It’s Made. And how hard is it to bring in artifacts to support school history lessons, such as those found in the tv show Antiques Roadshow? Using real examples to teach abstract concepts needs to be brought to the forefront at schools. I know there are alternative schools that do this. My friend’s daughter attends such a school and if I could send my children there, I definitely would. At that school they learn about basic math by thinking up a concept for a business and figuring out profits and losses. I’ll bet alternative high schools teach about income tax, including what it is, where it originated, and how and when to file. Meanwhile mainstream schools can’t gather enough information about practical applications for mathematics to support their lessons. Their defence is that math has always been taught this way, and so it will continue to be so. How about asking senior elementary classes to figure out the new playground or landscaping that’s being planned? Type and amount of materials, cost, time, etc? How about using those young pink brains to think of an innovative way to build something the school really needs? But today’s students aren’t prepared to be that creative; they want to get the day over with so they can do the required homework and then get on with the fun parts of daily life. Heaven forbid school should be productive, fun, and something students (and teachers) look forward to.

I’m not a teacher but I have a lot of opinions on the subject, after having gone through the system myself and now re-living that experience twice over. This morning I advised boy midget to figure out which professions meet the following criteria: pays well, least amount of training required, and easiest to do, and then go do that thing. Never mind trying to figure out what you’re interested in at age 14 – 17. I believe that’s what contributes to that quarter-life crisis everyone seems to go through, when you have a shiny new degree and no idea on how you should apply it in the ‘real’ world. Being a student takes a committment; it’s not a lark. Universities need students to buy into the ‘learning for the sake of learning’ mentality to keep that post-secondary machine funded. Students should have more (or some) practical career guidance throughout university or college. Instead, students are encouraged to study what interests them and that their profession will naturally follow. It’s a bill of goods, not practical in the least.

 

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