Monday, August 31, 2009

College Ready

First week of classes has gone by. Here is a rant I did on the subject of education and the US obsession with grades. Sociology 134 is going to be interesting

Ever since I started to learn more about my own identity about myself, grades have become less important to me than the content.
Parents instilled the “a person’s worth is their grades” if you did better it’s because you are better/smarter/more focused etc. even now. However students at my school were more knowledgeable about world issues that I had never given a thought. As those issues became my own, school was less about the grades and more about the content and how it applied in my life and the life of others. I’ve stopped being a drone. However this article revealed to me the parts that are still grade and praised driven. I am still a student and person who loves to get authority approval, recognition and attention. However the face has changed a little. It is still though something I am working on in seeing grades as a way of seeing how hard people work and how worthwhile they are. A good grade though has changed its face fortunately. I now identify more with people with life experience more than a diploma. My parents asked me if I would date someone who had never gone to school or gotten their GED and I replied immediately of course because I know that that person still worked hard because that is what life requires. Especially in a society that values a person more if they have an “education”. How I value a person though is if they have “smarts” like whether they know about and affect the issues in our culture and world that change both. Or are they just a say so person that believes in whatever is taught. So I have a mix of pride in my ability to get myself out of that way of thinking without directly addressing it but by directly address that part of it am I able to change it even more for the better. Part of it was my English class at my high school. Part of my high school’s curriculum was social justice so some teachers were truly interested in content more than memorization. In fact if you just imitated the book and showed no thinking process of your own and how it affected your life, you would fail. My English teacher Mr. McHenry was hated for this, including by me. I was the one who was obsessed with grades and I prized myself higher than the other students. I never really made any good friends in high school as well and I was really lonely. I got the grades though. Mr. McHenry however wanted MY opinion and then to use what I just read to support it. Also I began to admire students who I would before designate as stupid or clowns. I admired one guy named Hector. While he showed no enthusiasm for getting good grades, in fact I think he was constantly barely passing, he seemed to get the highly complex concepts that we were learning. Concepts like Othering in the White mainstream and the paradox of the way public schools teach kids not to think and then do but to do without thinking. (Because this topic isn’t new to me. Sorry but Mr. McHenry got her first)

Unfortunately through all of this talk, mainstream teaching has left its mark on me. However my view of the authority figure has changed. It isn’t “the teacher” who I am trying to impress now with my knowledge of stuff that doesn’t matter to me but the person who I feel really knows a lot more than I do about a typical subject. It’s still an unhealthy habit to constantly try to please an authority figure but it’s starting to balance and I have a feeling time will do it’s job.

The safest way of having no thoughts of one’s own is to take up a book every moment one has nothing else to do. It is this practice, which explains why erudition makes most men more stupid and silly than they are by nature. I both disagree and agree with this statement. While many people I know who feel themselves book learned and knowledgeable are certified idiots, it’s because they aren’t reading the book for content about their own life. Usually I am doing exactly what Schopenhauer says. If I am not doing anything else I pick up a book or read a blog. However even though the habit back in my high school days did make me number to socialization, the habit now helps in growing who I am BECAUSE I know that the experiences go a lot farther than the book itself. It isn’t the books anymore that I think have the most knowledge but the people who wrote them. I mean, this in itself, the text we read, is a book. And as long as one has already thought past what the book says to what the author is communicating about a certain aspect of live, I see no problem with reading. Especially if one knows that reading about an experience can never replace the experience.

This article is definitely not all inclusive and seems to speak more to middle class students with the time and wealth to not only decide to not care about grades but also to take off from school when the reality for some people might be that scholarships are the only way they can get a better education to get a better job to feed themselves. It also looks out a white, privileged, middle class lens predominantly.

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