Gut Rumbles

May 19, 2006

you choose

I get a lot of emails from people who are home-schooling their children, because they have lost all faith in the ability of public schools to teach anything today. I can't say that I blame them for thinking that way.

I HAD a public school education, 40 years ago, and what I learned THEN is NOTHING like what is taught NOW. I was expected to read and write--- to diagram a sentence and do MATH equations. The HORROR!!!

I was forced to take classes instead of environmental brain-washing. I had to dissect a frozen CAT in physiology, which I took in HIGH SCHOOL, instead of learning to recycle my garbage to "save the planet."

I still have nightmares about the smell of that dead cat and the SIX GODDAM KITTENS she had in her belly when I cut her open for the first time. I took that class right before lunch. It put me off of "potato pie" for a long time.

Have YOU ever been 17 years old, cut open a dead CAT and picked through SIX fetal kittens while your teacher told you to notice the swollen lactose glands on the mother? If you've never done that, blow me. I HAVE.

I knew right then and there that I never wanted to be a doctor. That was some ugly shit to deal with right before lunch. Now, when I NEED a doctor to fix what's wrong with me, they treat me like a dead cat, with NO got-dam mind of my own.

I AIN'T a dead cat. But I might as well be.


I am so sick and fucking tired of rants about the school systems. They are not ALLOWED to discipline or teach properly. Thank your state and federal guvmint for that.

You bitchers want to change it? Then start by voting out all of your incubents. Dare to shake up the power system. In fact, please do.

I will say, during this rant, my first grader can easily maneuver through words such as fantastic, celebratory, etc. WHY, you ask? Because our county is not afraid to enforce grades, conduct, and appearance. I live in this tiny town for a reason. Ah-hem.

Don't be afraid to move with your tax monies to a community that supports your beliefs. Too hard, you say? Bullshit, I say. These counties and communities do exist.

No, I am not a teacher.

Sorry, but I am very, very tired of people who bitch and, yet remain complacent with "the way things are." What's even better (!), resort to "home schooling" when most of the non-degreed "teachers" of said "home schools" can not adequately perform/teach fractions, multiplication, division hand-style sans calculator, et al.

Makes me wanna puke...acid style.

Posted by: Surfie on May 19, 2006 05:54 PM

I've dissected two cats, and one of them had four kittens inside it. Didn't put me off "potato pie," though. Or anything else, for that matter.

Maybe that means I'm not right.

Come to think of it, that would explain a few things...

Posted by: TeaFizz on May 19, 2006 06:36 PM

The kittens didn't bug me.... neither did prying open the skull for the brain. The eyes, though... holy crap. We got to the eyes and they were lifting me from the floor. I've been an eye phobe ever since (no joke). I pass out whenever a doctor tries to touch my eyes. Blech.

Posted by: Bou on May 19, 2006 07:15 PM

No cats. Did frogs and worms in high school biology class. And frogs again in college biology.

Did dissect a liberal in bio post graduate work....nah, I'm only kidding there.

Posted by: David Drake on May 19, 2006 07:17 PM

I've been teaching for 11 years now, and you have a standing invitation to come visit my 9th grade physical science class, and then my environmental science class. You wanna bitch, come be a teacher for one day in my room. Put up or shut up.

Posted by: stephanie on May 19, 2006 08:59 PM

We had the frogs but being from a farming family i had already had the pleasure of greasing up my arm with 'lard' and going exploring in a dead hog to pull the live pigs. We didn't winch from the task but thought it was fun..Damn if i'd do it today. Cattle man where we deer hunt told us if we saw one of his cows down with a calf hung to hook a chain to the calf and use the truck to pull it and save the cow. Think he found several dead cows and calves after that. Ha Ha We forgot to bring a chain.

Posted by: Scrapiron on May 19, 2006 09:04 PM

I remember my mom helping me do an extra credit project in grade school. It was showing the class how to dissect a fish. That was in the 70s. In the Gay Area, California. Today I'm sure mom and I would be arrested for such an affront to Gaia.

Weep for the Republic.

Posted by: anonymous on May 19, 2006 09:21 PM

I went to a private school (Baptist). We dissected frogs and worms there. I never had to dissect a cat.

I'm surprised no one has asked this yet, but is that why you dislike cats so much?...LOL

Maybe some kind of latent guilt type of thing?

At any rate, I agree with you about the state of the public schools. That's why (way back in the 70s), my parents sacrificed to send me to private school.

I didn't appreciate it then, but I do now.

Posted by: Mrite on May 19, 2006 09:37 PM

Thank you, that's the hardest I've laughed all day. Six kittens! Awesome.

Posted by: monstera deliciosa on May 19, 2006 09:47 PM

we disected a dogfish (small shark) today in biology (9th grade) and in 7th grade science we did frogs and our teacher disected a pig and a dogfish while we watched, that wasn't too bad, hell, some of my friends even popped out the eye balls and kept them, because they bounce, but i can't imagine disecting a cat w/ 6 kittens, I don't think I'd be able to

Posted by: Martin on May 20, 2006 12:03 AM

"You wanna bitch, come be a teacher for one day in my room. Put up or shut up."

Ah yes, the lovely, "If you haven't been a teacher, you can't criticize" meme. Well, since I was a history teacher for a brief period in grad school, allow me to retort.

Rob is right--schools nowadays are far more interested in social experimentation than in actually teaching basic academic fundamentals. I saw this firsthand grading so-called undergraduate "essays". Terrible grammar, poorly constructed argumentation, a host of non-sequiters and flat-out wrong "facts". Most of these students couldn't develop a simple one-sentence thesis statement.(Then again, many of them were journalism students, so that might have had something to do with the general display of incompetence)
After giving a host of Ds and Fs on the first test, my office was filled with irate students wanting to know why their morass of mediocrity didn't deserve an A. One of them said to me, "This certainly was a lot different than high school," to which I responded, "Yeah, and you're not in high school anymore."

There are no doubt some excellent teachers who do the best they can under the circumstances they are placed--I would never have gone into the history field were it not for the influence of a very hard-assed history teacher in eighth grade who continually challenged us. However, the level of education in this country is so bad that even the ultra-liberal columnist in my local fishwrap had to concede this morning that most students couldn't identify who Italy, Germany and Japan fought against in World War 2. To put it quite simply, today's liberal educators, both teachers and administrators, have failed in educating the nation's children because they are far more concerned with promoting "good self-esteem" and being "change agents" than in producing academically competent individuals and citizens. The reasons for this can be speculated upon, but the bottom line is that many parents are fed up with the current system of non-production and are pulling their kids out.
The fact that home-schooled kids routinely end up in national spelling bees and place among the top percentiles in college entrance exams shows just how badly the current educational system is broken. When adminstrators start expecting high performance rather than make excuses for lack of such, schools will start to improve, but until then, kids in public schools are largely going to be short-changed.

Posted by: Chris on May 20, 2006 03:51 PM

That's interesting Chris. I wonder what effect you think the NCLB testing is having on the system?

Posted by: Libby on May 20, 2006 08:07 PM

I remember when the English teacher said we were going to learn to diagram a sentence. I think it was Junior year in high school...

Having parents that took education seriously, I already knew how to read, (I was reading at a high school level when I started 1st grade and at college level by 5th grade), and had a good grasp of addition and subtraction and was trying to wrap my head around multiplication and division and I could print legibly when I started school. Instead of "see Dick try to dick Jane" as material, Mom got a set each of The World Book Encyclopedia and The Encyclopedia Britiannica and what seemed like a 25 pound edition of Webster's Unabridged Dictionary to teach me to read with and by default, I was taught History, Geography, English and Science to a level several years ahead of my classmates. (Thanks Mom!!) By second grade, my teachers were tired of me sitting at my desk with closed books, no notes, never taking homework home and barely paying attention in class and still having an A average, so they had the gall to tell my Mom to stop teaching me at home!

They also were VERY involved with the PTA and were friends with most of the Admin. and staff of the school so they made sure the teachers were "teaching" and not wasting Science or History class time on crap like making leather coin pouches or tanning hides. (ala Mr. Green, 7th grade hippy teacher who didn't last long) They were the driving force behind fund-raisers and budget changes to get our old country school house air conditioned so the students could concentrate on learning and not the fall/late spring heat. Somewhere along the way we were taught the basics of diagramming a sentence.

Having muddled through those lessons and the whole time wondering what I would EVER need this information for, I felt no need to go through this waste of time again and very politely said as much. The teacher countered with "You have to, it's part of the curriculum." I challenged her to give me ONE instance I would need to diagram a sentence, outside of me becoming an English teacher. (which I had NO intention of becoming)

After a couple of minutes of "um, uh well, ahh, um, maybe, etc." she couldn't come up with anything and seeing the seeds of my dissent begining to sprout and spread through the class, she got pissed and off we went to the Principal's office. Hit the replay button, here we go again. Once more, "You have to learn this, etc." I asked again, polite and respectful the whole time, ('cause I knew Dad would tan MY hide if I was disrespectful to an adult, it had happened before and I had no doubt it would happen again, high school age or not.) I told them if they could give me ONE GOOD REASON (other then my being a teacher) when I would have to whup down with a good ol' fashioned diagramming. If they could I would go back to class and go through it like a good little drone.

Fast forward past pissed principal, past the hour I sat in front of the office missing Biology, and to the part where the parents get called to straighten out their "unruly" son. They got there and the principal took them into his office and told them how disruptive and un-cooperative I was and how I was refusing to study, etc., blah-blah-blah. They then said they wanted to talk to me in private, like the principal had just talked to them, to get my side of the story before deciding what to do. I told them almost verbatim what was said and what had happened.

Having raised me to be a honorable and honest young man, my folks gave more weight to me than them, and when we all sat down together, they asked the teacher and principal, once again, to provide an example of when I would need that knowledge. Once again, stumble, fumble, mumble, no example.

In the end a face saving compromise was reached, I would write a 5-page report (one page for each day the teacher was going to waste on this tripe) and only work on it during her class to make up the credit, but I'll be damned if I can remember what I wrote about...(it was 1981, too many years and too many beers between then and now) But I do remember she hated it, and though it was worthy of an A, that football-team fucking bitch gave me a C-.

Now, a quarter of a century later (does that mean I'm getting old??), I pose the question again... Can anyone tell me if I missed out on anything because I didn't sit there like the rest of the drones and learn the finer points of diagramming?? And no, I'm still not teaching English...

Sorry for rattling on like this. I dig your blog, and I hope you get to feeling better. I suffer from occasional bouts of Gout and know the feeling of someone ramming a hot poker through a joint, then pouring ground glass into the wound and working it around. The pain that makes you ponder the idea of pruning a limb to make it quit.

Posted by: MoMinuteMan on May 21, 2006 05:23 AM

"I wonder what effect you think the NCLB testing is having on the system?"

I don't think it's going to make a dent in improving academic standards because the tests only focus on math and language comprehension, not a "total" academic focus that includes history, science, and civics. It's caused teachers and adminstrators to panic and think they have to prepare students to "take the tests," when they could simply raise their academic expectations and curriculum quality and achieve the same thing. Furthermore, it's yet another example of people depending on the government to figure out solutions for them rather than figuring it out for themselves.

Keep in mind I have no problem with testing per se--I think students should have to pass a set of exams their senior year which demonstrate what they have actually learned over three/four years in order to graduate. The problem is that 1)curriculums have been dumbed down over the years to the point that kids don't know anything useful or have any appreciation for their responsibilities as citizens and 2) this has been the direct result of educators focusing on PC "self-esteem" raising rather than holding high academic expectations for their students in the fear that this will be construed as racism, sexism, or hatred against the poor and downtrodden.

Posted by: Chris on May 23, 2006 03:38 AM
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