Not only do Public Schools not challenge students, but they pretty much dull their minds to the edge of a butter knife. And all the while, Students are thought of as a huge threat. At my school, we don't have any metal detectors, or examinations of bags. Infact, we can walk into the school almost any hour of the day, up until 5 P.M.
However, since 9/11, the school has hired a "Rent-A-Cop" as we call him. He carries a Radio, hand-cuffs, a gun (Loaded?) and a clip of ammo. Oh goodie. Is the gun really nessisary?! If the school was that worried we were bringing weapons in, they oughta just put up a coupla metal detectors, and have the deans stand guard to make sure no one tries to get around them. They'd save on wages. But this is a minor issue. Personally, I think it's Post-9/11 Paranoia.
Many people think, and some know, that today's youth is more adept with PCs than most adults. The school's SysAdmin probably subscribes to that theory. The school considers us students to be such a security risk, we aren't allowed to edit the orginization of our "Favorites" in IE. But the school requires us to follow specific rules (Many are often broken), but doesn't seem to enforce them. Example:
A friends told me about his experience in the School's computer lab, doing research on the French Revolution. The kid next to him, who I also know, some how found a nude picture of Angelina Jolie (Unsurpisedly: wow). Well, he sets it as his wallpaper (Another thing we're not supposed to be able to customize)
To this day, which is a few days afterward, no one in the administration has found out, or cares.
Back to the subject of how much Public education sucks:
I learned more about HTML on my own, than I did in the school's "Web Page Design" course. The only advantage is, that I can now put down on my colledge resume that I know FrontPage 2000 (By then, FP XP5 should be released, and my knowledge will be very out of date). But not only did I know everything they taught in the class (Asside from some FP2K features), but I also rarely got to do anything creative. We would be given guidelines on what we were supposed to write about. And it always had to be "Positive." My friend used some Voo Doo DHTML Tricks (I call them that since Mozilla/Phoenix et. al. browsers don't support them) in his pages. But when we coded our own HTML, we atleast got to write our own "body" data. But when we got to FP2K, it was literally write what the book tells you to write. They gave you all the information you were supposed to put down. To be honest, I found their little jest about Jaws sequels to be rather un-funny.
The only class that I don't think I could have taught my self is a forign language. Currently, I'm in Russian II (For about two more weeks, then the term ends), and next term I'm in Russian III. I tried teaching my self Japanese, but with little success. I still have a hobby of learning some words, and a few worthless and useless phrases (BAKA NI!), but nothing helpful.
But the reason I find school boring, is that it is. I consider myself to be a bit ahead of the other students. In truth, I may not be. To be honest, I don't really know. But becuase sometimes we're crammed at about 30 (Few) to 35 (Average) to 40 (Crowded) students to a class, we often don't get the help we need. While I have a nack for grasping consepts easily, often when I try to use them, I make simple mistakes. But since there's about 34 students in my Chemistry Class (My worst subject this year: C), I often don't get the help I need. I've learned to extract data properly from my Chem book.
What it really boils down to, is that there isn't enough attention to individual students. The best example is my Chem class compared to my Russian Class. In Chem, there's 34 students (I already mentioned that). In Russian, there's 13 of us. But that number will shrink even further after the end of term. In Chem, I can figure out why something works, and how to use it in most cases, but I often might get lost (Like when we learned Atomic Orbitals). Most of the time, I can logically figure it out, or the teacher will render aid. However, in Russian, we don't have that trouble. Mrs. Finn (A naitive Russian) actually goes up and down between the tables, and will look over what work Students have done so far, and check it. What she'll do, is see what we've done right, and what we've done wrong. What ever we've done wrong, she'll mark, and let us know. We then have a chance to redeem our selves by figuring out how to fix it, then fixing it. This is one of the reasons that Russian is one of my better subjects. I've never been overly good with foreign languages, but I've learned Russian pretty well. Even under Mr. Kuskovski (Another Naitive Russian. He left to be a principal at another school.), who did things very differently, we were corrected, and were offered the chance to fix our mistakes. Both of my Russian techers helped us, while my Chem teacher really can't. To be honest, it's not entierly the teacher's fault. The system is to blame. They hire too few teachers, and give them too much to do. While we're working on our Chem assignments for the last 15-30 minutes of class (We have four 96-minute periods per day), she has to prepare for her next class. This involves taking out/preparing any chemicals they might need, or getting out Demo equiptment. However, if a special employee had been hired to handle this preperation, she might have a chance to stroll between the desks and look over our work. Help us pin-point the problems. But still, she'd have to learn what each of us 34 students need help with. And then, multiply that number by the number of other classes she has to teach. This leads up to a system that will end up as a downward spiral. The school needs to wise up a bit. While they are taking steps they think are best, they still could take more tips.
Apparently, this is the last year that the school will run on a 4-Period Day (Junior High is already on a 8-Period Day, with the 8th Period being a study hall). They plan to move us to an 8-Period Day, with 3-Minute Passing Times. Personally, I liked the 4-Period Days. Often, classes might really drag on, but there would be times when we'd need the time. Like in classes where we'd have to do labs, or in art classes. Why not combine the two? A 6-Period Day. Two 96-Minute classes, and four 47-Minute Classes. During the longer periods, we could have our science, art or language classes, or something like that, and during the shorter, we could have English, Math, Business classes, and so forth.
Another thing schools need to learn is, that Students want to customize EVERYTHING. But that involves... CREATIVITY! OH NO! *Insert dramatic music here* The lack of assignments where students get to be creative is astounding. In Language Arts, writing is rarely done. Most often, it's reading, and filling in info in packets (Study Guides). This doesn't help us really. I mean, I am trying to write my own story, creativly. But I'm finding a problem: I'm actually having trouble comming up with ways of making transitions from place to place. To be honest, I'm a little shocked. I've always been gifted with the English Language. And my LA (Language Arts) grades have often been my best. I guess the school just didn't teach me well enough.
But the problems aren't limited to academics. Our school has a bit of a problem with the "Do As We Say, Not As We Do" syndrom. We're not supposed to install software, or download things from the internet. I know a teacher who does. He said he wanted to bring in an external burner and transfer all of his tunes to it. Another thing we're not supposed to do: Tamper with the equiptment. Also, we're not supposed be allowed to change our backgrounds (Every one does, though). Teachers are given free reign to do so. They can even customize their screen savers.
Another thing, our school makes up rules, that often seem logical, and simple, but fails to follow through with them. Example: Due to the messes in the halls from last year, students are no longer allowed to take food out side of the Lunch Room or the Senior Commons. The only exception is water. But students can be found with bottles of Mountain Dew in their lockers, or even walking through the halls with bags of chips sitting openly in their hands.
Another example is that we are not allowed to have cell phones or CD players in the school. Though the staff doesn't seem to care if you bring them, just as long as they're in the locker, and turned off apparently. But once again, students can be found using these "Nuisance Items," as our Student Hand Book calls them, in the halls. But one stupid rule: The affore mentioned rule is effective during lunch. No Cells or CD/MP3 Players are to be used during Lunch. But kids do anyway. Hell, even I listen to my iPod after I eat. But never during class.
The school system needs to be totally revamped for it to work properly. Private schools have got it down, as far as I am concered. School Uniforms eliminate the problem of offensive or gang clothing, as well as discrimination upon. Personally, I'd like a uniform. They tend to be very functional (I.E. Big Pockets, not like those found in Jeans). And strict enforcement of the rules. But where they've usually done the best, is small class sizes, and chalenging work. While I don't speak from experience, I have a friend who is going to a Private School. And I can tell you, it sounds much better than what we've been doing so far. While we were learning that Energy Levels are rings around the Nucleus, and determining Cell Sizes, my friend was learning most of the things I'm learning now, one year later. Teach us ONCE, and teach us right. I don't know how many times I've been taught Area and Volume formulas in my various math classes. How hard is πr2? Classes tend to be redundant. We learned areas in 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and now 10th grade. Same for Volume, only start at 6th grade, and cut out 8th. But what really irks me is our Health Classes. Including 5th Grade, we've been given Sex-Ed once. ONCE. In Five years, we have had one Sex-Ed course. But, in that same span, we've been taught about the different advertising techniques God knows how many times.
How can schools dig themselves out of a rut? What it takes, is informative data from students, much like the data I'm spewing forth en masse now (Sorry this is so long. I need to vent!), and do a bit more thinking on how this is going to impact the students. Then, gague a responce from the student population, as well as the staff. Remember: The students are the focus. If the staff finds it just slightly annoying that they have to do something within a certain time, rembmer: this is why you are paid. To try and enhance the lives of the students here. Don't let the staff's opinion override the students'. Reverse that. The students are supposed to be the ones that the staff are supposed to care for. This means they need to make sacrifices to make our learning experience better. Here's some improvments that could be made:
I know there's more things I could rant on about, but I think my comment just got longer than the story.
- 6-Period Day (As mentioned Above)
- All Teachers of a subject get together and build a unified, flowing curriculum, so that the same info isn't retaught thrice
- Don't be so lax on the rules. ENFORCE THEM. This makes the students know who's boss
- Make classes smaller. This might mean expanding the school for more classrooms, and hiring more teachers/Teaching Assistants, then so be it.
- Give the students more freedom. Let them unwind during lunch. It's the only thirty five minutes where data isn't pounded into their heads. And let them do more stuff about what they like. Let them write reports on the history of skate boarding.
- Semi-Flexable Uniforms. You know, School Uniforms. When I say Semi-Flexable, I mean let them have some choices. Like so: A student must wear khakis, and a white dress shirt, but have the option of wearing a vest or a coat if they wish.
- Don't Force Things On Them. There are some things the need forcing, like uniforms. However, forcing school spirit is one thing that isn't needed. We'll have the usual Pep-Rally, but I'd wish I had been allowed to go home, so I could work on my homework for the next day.
- Security. Student's don't need protection from Gun toting maniacs who kill for the joy of it. They need protection from students like them. I don't want to even think about how many times I've threatened to press harassment charges (And how many times I've followed through with those threats. This includes one count sexual harassment) on a fellow student. Also, a friend of mine was acutally given the Shake-Em-Till-His-Money-Falls-Out Treatment. He was pushed around, into a wall, went limp (As a Tae-Kwon-Do Defence Mechanism he was taught), and was then shaken for the things in his pockets, with barely and inch between his head and the floor. Honestly, I've even had to press slander charges. Students don't even take these treats seriously. More education and security along these lines is nessisary. School is more dangerous for the psyche than the body.
- Student Input. That's what the Student Council is supposed to be for. But they mainly just handle dances and such. I mean, the kind of complaints a student has against the school. The whole 4-Period vs. 8-Period issue is a perfect example.
Oh God, here comes more!
To add, I've learned more between Slashdot, K5, and experimentation than I think I've learned in school. I self-taught my self The GIMP, a PhotoShop clone, which can help get me a job in Graphic Design, or editing. And reading about how much more our rights are being limited is a helpful thing. I've had a more enlightening time IMing over Jaber with a friend on why we have two different personalities (Our internet personality, and our real-life personalities), or how thought, maturity, intellegence, and knowledge might be linked. My time would probably be better spent where things are better than in the school.
P.S. For the record: I have never skipped a minute of class.
"I said I was smart, I never said I was mature!"-Me