Sunday, March 9, 2014

[Personal Rant] Me and Education.

I loved my teachers - they were awesome people, but yeah.

When we came to Canada, the Edmonton Public School System insisted my brother and I be put in with our age groups rather than tested to see where we were educationally. I sat on my ass and didn't learn a dang thing for over two years. I was bored, I was restless, I had no interest in doing work I already knew how to do.

By the time I hit high school (grades eight through twelve) I'd managed to learn to fake my way through the stuff I could care less about or already knew so I could just sit and read instead. My attitude was, if I bring home a 96%, I get a 'What happened to the other 4%?' so what's the difference between that and a 'What happened to the other 20%'? I may as well read and enjoy myself.

I learned to do the absolute bare minimum of the crap to get to the good stuff. I excelled at anything that involved reading or writing since those were my interests, I bombed at anything that required dry reading and spewing forth back what I'd read. Why should I write out the seven different types of glaciers when you can just look in a book? If I were writing a report on Archduke Ferdinand, I would look up the dates before I published the report, it's been well established, so why should I remember them? It was an exercise in recitation, not learning, to me. That the government said I HAD to learn certain things seemed silly. I enjoyed courses like Business Education and Consumer Education that taught us practical use of money, how to buy a car, how to shop for real estate, practical every day things we would use. Things that you can't pick up in a book.

By the time I hit grade 10, I was skipping classes. I was BORED. They didn't challenge me. I learned more online than I ever did in school. I learned more at the library. I learned more from my older than me friends. I learned more from observation of people. I took courses early. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. Trying to do grade 11 physics with only the knowledge of grade 9 math is a no go. I tried it again when I was just starting to learn grade 10 math. But the class, both times, very quickly left me behind.  The other students already learned things like formulas and how to manipulate them while I was struggling with trying to memorize all the various variations of the formulas. Half the time I wasn't told all the variations because it was assumed I already knew how to find them on my own. It hit my teen age ego pretty hard that I couldn't do this, it didn't even occur to me I couldn't do it because I didn't have the prerequisite knowledge, I just thought it was because I wasn't a science or math person. To this day I still don't associate myself with the ability to do anything math related. I can do algebra in my head, but I'm not a math person. I saw my brother seemingly sailing through the maths and sciences and getting the praise of my parents while I was getting told I wasn't trying hard enough. In most cases, that'd have been true, but in this case, I was trying to climb a mountain with no rope.

I skipped more and more classes through grade 11 and grade 12. I got asked 'why' a lot, but how do you tell your teachers that you're bored? How do you confide anything in parents when your parents just turn around to the teachers and say "She says she's BORED." which just insults the teachers. I didn't want to insult my teachers, I liked my teachers. I knew if I had a problem I could identify or they could fix, they'd be there for me. I, however, also knew that they were trapped by the system. They had to teach for the provincial testing at the end of the semester. They had to have us know certain things in certain ways by a certain time. They had 32 - 35 students per class to teach this to.

They were trying their best for me, but I'd become so disconnected and so out of caring by that point, there wasn't much they could do. It didn't help hearing "Your brother could.." or "Your brother scored.."  Dave is a wonderful, generous, kind, and fantastic big brother. He's a very intelligent, very quick witted, and very driven individual. He retains knowledge like a sponge does water. I'm a lot like my brother, but I don't have his drive and stubbornness for completing things. If I don't see a point to something, I just won't do it. Self-defeating, but there it is. I didn't see the point in counting thirty-seven beans the book just told us there were thirty-seven of, so I wouldn't count and would get a crappy grade.

It was never the fault of the teachers. They tried. In my years in school I met only a few teachers I actively disliked, and that's because they didn't listen. Hindsight tells me they were burned out by the demands and the system and were now just going through the motions. Of course, they may also have been frustrated with the strange child/teen who did the bare minimum to get a C+ or B , who could have achieved much better grades but had far more interest in computers than already long established facts. But they tried.

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