Tuesday, August 31, 2010

They've gone back

It's that time of year again. The kids are back in school. I feel for them, I really do.

When I was a little a kid in grammar school, I looked at all the years of mandatory schooling ahead of me and despaired. Little kids shouldn't have that level of discouragement. Eventually the years went by and I got out of prison. That's how I looked at it.

After high school, I made a mistake. Everyone told me I couldn't get ahead in life without a college education. Couldn't face 4 more years of school, so a 2 year degree seemed doable. Back in the late 70s, there was still this idea going around that a person could go to college and pay his way by working. They don't even talk about that anymore. One semester was all I could handle before I'd end up in debt, which is something I really wanted to avoid. Dropping out proved to the best the answer.

Best decision of my life. I was broke, had no prospects, but for the first time in my life, I was free. It felt wonderful.

It drove me nuts when adults would say their school days were the best days of their life. For me, it was like telling a prisoner that once he did his time, he'd be transferred to a worse prison. If it wasn't for vacations, I don't know how I would have survived.

Getting married. Raising kids. Working jobs. Buying property. All that stuff was so much better than going to school. I could do what I wanted to do, read books I wanted to read, do my own experiments, hunt, fish, hike, travel -it was and is great.

School is where we are supposed to learn reading, writing, mathematics, history, and all the other stuff they want crammed in our heads. It's the "all the other stuff," that bothers me. We were taught to follow orders, obey the rules, please our jailers, and even respond to bells like Pavlov's dogs. Good training for life in factories, cubicles, and in a Fascist state.

The sad thing is that school couldn't even teach me how to read. My mother noticed I couldn't read as well as the rest of my class. One summer, teaching me mornings, I went from reading below my class to several years above it. The city should have refunded her school tax money that year. She did the job they were unable to.

As a kid, I rebelled in school. Not enough to get into too much trouble, but enough to stay sane. Was always looking for loopholes around the rules. My grades were petty good, but that's because they actually made kids repeat years. The thought of an extra year of prison was a strong negative motivator.

I must admit, my own kids went to public school. My lovely wife made shut up about my "prison days." She didn't want the kids to have a negative attitude. They all got through it, and did it better than I.

Used to hate the month of September. Now, I love it. It's a wonderful time of the year. Too bad those kids in prison can't enjoy it.



  1. I so agree with your post and so much more can be said. I have learnt so much more from life. Cheers, Wendy

  2. Great post Sixbears. It amazes and angers me that for the thousands of hours children are forced to go to school they aren't taught very much that is useful. In 12 years there is no time for basic first aid, CPR, personal finance? Like you said though, there is plenty of time for molding good little serfs.

  3. I felt the same way. Couldn't wait for that last Pavlovian bell to get on my bike and ride home as fast as I could. I hated school, and I knew better than to waste money and time in college. Oddly enough, I excelled in Navy school. Probably because the subject (gas turbines) interested me immensely... And I was getting paid!

  4. Exactly! I hated school as much if not more than you, it's been years since I was in school and I still get that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach when I start hearing and seeing the "back to school" adverts that start in the middle of summer.

    I also find it strange to hear someone say that they actually liked school. As a kid, I could see that it was wrong to line us up in boy and girl lines to go to the bathroom, to go to the lunchroom, to go to gym, I could see the indoctrination of all the children and I fought it, tooth and nail... I hated everything about school. The few teachers that I enjoyed were the rebels who didn't follow the directions, who did things their way, don't know if that is even allowed any more.

    I did pretty good in the reading department, that still didn't make things any easier, I couldn't imagine going to school (college) after high school, the thought of voluntarily going back to school for 4 more years sickened me, I was glad to get away from all of that, live my life and thrive in spite of the fact that I don't have a college degree. :)


  5. Far as I can see, schools have been getting worse, not better. There are bright shining spots here and there, but few and far between.

    I did some substitute teaching for a few weeks once. Because I'm big and ugly looking, they gave me all the problem kids. Got along fine with them. It's the administration that drove me away. As a sub, not looking to make a career out of it, I got to break a lot of rules. Even taught the kids some useful things.