Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Grade School: Learn How to Bullshit Expertly to Secure Your Productive Place in Society

You spend 12 years in public school and finally you get out and have a real life. Then you have kids and you’re back in school. You help them with homework and dealing with those school things that you hated. Sure there are some good things about school, like having friends and doing stuff with them. But you don’t need school for that.

The things that are school are things that really bother me. Things that make me think are the reason for what’s fucked up in society. Things like percentiles, grade point averages, and grade levels. School people think that every child should be performing at a certain grade level for their age, no matter who they are, where they come from, what their family life is like, or what they do after school.

So all ten year olds should be performing at a fourth grade level. And if they don’t? They go to the back of the bus, take special ed classes, or even get filed away in a special school. They’re separated from the “mainstream” kids. That’s no different than segregation. It is segregation. Why? Because they aren’t keeping up to their grade level?

The thing is if you have the resources, and that means money, you can send your kids to pre-school, after school tutoring, special help classes, or summer school. All these things are geared to make sure your kids are up to their grade level. But they can also make them exceed their grade level if you’re willing to drive your children to work overtime. You have to beat out the cmpetition right? Have to strive to be at the top of the class, no matter the cost.

Over the years strange things happen. Kids get smarter faster. What is fourth grade level now was once sixth or eighth grade level. Kids get driven to work hard and compete and suffer stress and tension that was traditionally reserved for adults in the competing work world.

So what happens when kids fail or can’t cut it? Drugs, suicides, nervous breakdowns?

It’s interesting that there are an incredibly higher number of children diagnosed with autism now than there were just ten years ago. An alarming increase. Is this because more kids are actually autistic now than there were? Could it be that stress in their lives drives them into some kind of mental refuge? Could it be that the clinicians who operate in schools are doing more testing and somehow their criteria or the fact that there is more testing simply categorizes more kids as autistic now than was done before?

So if you can’t cut the mustard in the fast paced rat race grade school classroom you can always have a mental breakdown. It’s ok. We have plenty of psychologists, occupational therapists, special ed classes and drugs available to deal with it. Just ask any pharmaceutical company.

I walked into the I.E.P. meeting. Right there you know that since there’s an acronym this is going to be corporate bullshit. I.E.P. Individual Education Program. So the individual needs are so unusual of a thing to consider that they have to have a special program for it with its own acronym.

You have been alerted to the fact that your kid is not keeping up with the joneses. She’s not spending an extra three hours after school with a tutor. She’s not reading at grade level. She’s not performing at an average percentile. She’s in danger of growing up and not getting into an Ivy League college or becoming a doctor or lawyer or other big business bullshit artist. My God, she might end up in a junior college to catch up with what she couldn’t grasp in that high school rat race highway with bodies of suicides and drug victims fallen to the gutter. She might have to go to some less than Ivy League college or maybe, heaven help her, learn a trade on her own. As if good grades are all you need to succeed in life or even a minimum requirement.

What if she wants to be an actor? I guess none of the school stuff matters much. Actors just need to play in front of a camera. In fact, the worst thing an actor can have is bad nerves. So learning to be a nervous wreck, a major side effect of the public schools, would be a career killer for an actor, or an artist, or a number of other professions that don’t involved fierce completion and bullshitting language skills. Of course she could never be management material, thank God.

Did you ever observe managers or supervisors and wonder what the hell they do all day? They attend meeting after meeting and give a lot of lip service (that’s bullshitting 101 – language skills) to how great they plan to make things work. They draw charts and schedules and assign jobs. So then what? Are those plans and schedules followed? I don’t think so.

Shit happens. The project currently on the priority list has run over. It will require more resources. All those plans and schedules that management drew up to show off how great they are at managing things will have to be shelved for a while, until the priorities are dealt with. Of course, management will spend more meetings with more charts and schedules to show how well they have the situation under control. Well, until another critical project runs into problems and then they’ll have to have more meetings, more schedules and more new assignments. That’s what managers do. They bullshit. It’s an art and it’s learned by acquiring great language skills, dealing with competition, and becoming a nervous wreck.

No thanks. My kid can learn how to be a kid, a human, someone who doesn’t rely on bullshitting to be successful. Call me crazy.

Anyway, I walk into this stupid meeting; and of course meetings in grade schools always take place in a classroom where there are only small kid sized chairs to sit in around kid level tables, two feet off the ground. We have to remember that schools have tight budgets and could never afford something like a grown up conference room. You see this will make you feel guilty for not pulling you weight and having to rely on the poor school system to teach your kids how to expertly bullshit.

It’s your fault as a parent. Somehow you failed to keep you kid up to grade level. Maybe it’s your genes. Your whole bloodline is full of stupid people who couldn’t bullshit their way out of a paper bag. They're terrible liars. That will never do.

Maybe you’re not rich. You can’t afford to send your kids to tutors or preschool or after school homework classes. Maybe you work all day and can’t devote two hours to each child to make up for what their teachers couldn’t do for them. After all, if your kid needs an Individual Education Program, you can’t expect the teacher to have the time to help them. They have to keep the high pace rat race bullshitting lessons going for all the nervous wrecked kids that haven’t yet gone mental from it.

We talked about percentiles and grade levels and special education.

Then I just had to ask, “Why do you expect all children regardless of who they are or where they come from to perform at a certain grade level at a certain age?”

I don’t think they ever answered that one. Just some nebulous bullshit.

“We want your child to be a productive member of society. They need these skills.”

“Yeah, but what does that have to do with being at a certain grade level at a certain age? I mean, so what if some kids are behind other kids the same age. By the time they’re 26 none of it will matter”, unless they’re planning to be competing for the youngest corporate executive of the year. Come to think of it, the richest man in America, Bill Gates, dropped out of grad school. Einstein was a C student. A lot of great people sucked in school. There’s something to be said for just doing it.

I know. Because I went to two colleges and grad school and ended up in a career field that had nothing to do with anything I studied. I became a self taught computer programmer. I have a huge college debt and none of it contributed to my well paid career. School is bullshit, mostly.

I agreed with them that my kid needs to learn to read and write well. It’s just the rate of learning and the rat race pace that I have a problem with. Kids will learn in time if you let them and treat them like individuals that have a special purpose in the world. But I guess such foreign concepts would require astronomical funding and lots more acronyms.

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