Saturday, November 23, 2013

4 things that make "school" a royal pain...

As I see my daughter get stressed and struggle with her distance learning high school credit work, there are truths that have come out about what makes "school" a royal pain:

  1. The government curriculum is so very often completely disconnected with student reality. Oh, sure, they try to get the kids to connect by creating questions that are supposed to make the link between their lives and the material they are thrusting upon the kids, but let's face it: if the material was actually connected to their lives and truly meaningful for most of them, the government wouldn't have to figure out ways to try to get kids to connect to it. And then there is the material that is there supposedly to get the students to develop their brain power, but when, at ages 15-17, what matters most is that they have a sense of meaning and purpose in their lives and they are spending 1-2 hours each day on math that has no practical, meaningful purpose to them (do you use the quadratic equation in your everyday life? didn't think so), is it any wonder so many kids drop out or just get completely stressed out and depressed?
  2. The government curriculum tries to be conceptual, to have kids think, but given they give students a whole whack of things to cover, let's face it: it's really about memorizing. My daughter said it even last year, multiple times: "They don't really want me to know and understand this, they just want me to memorize it." This is not education. And while she can do a whole bunch of things and get 80-100%, because she doesn't really understand what she's doing (like she could do when we were simply homeschooling and not doing government course), it leaves her feeling like she doesn't know and hasn't learned anything. Well, she's right, isn't she?
  3. The student who understands point 2 can struggle with areas where opinions can be shared because they know that so much of most answers depends on having the "right" answer and to snap themselves out of that way of thinking can be difficult. And then sometimes the things they want students to have opinions on are really somewhat "out there". Do students truly have opinions on some of these matters? Not very likely.
  4. Testing means so very little, yet counts for so much in marks. Especially the diploma exams we have here: 50% of your final mark in grade 12 core subjects. Ridiculous. And what difference does it make if a student has certain formulae memorized or not? Again, what are they looking for: memorization or understanding?
To touch back on 1, as I've seen my daughter struggle emotionally this semester, I have looked things up and read something on a page about depression that said, in my paraphrased wording, depression is our inner, authentic selves screaming that there is something wrong, that there is a disconnect between what honours our true selves and what we are doing. The work my daughter is doing to get this stupid (sorry) high school diploma is not in sync with what truly matters to her. She would much prefer doing art and working on digital media and learning how to design websites and playing her violin and perhaps reading and writing... That she has to spend time understanding "nationalism" and "identity" and memorize all kinds of dates and people and be able to write wordy papers on something that seems to straight forward and common-sensical to her and she has to spend hours and hours trying to figure out how to solve meaningless math questions...  It has taken its toll on her. Things that were fun aren't quite as fun anymore, especially since there is the constant knowledge in her mind that there is more school to be done. The diploma is important to her, however. And so, we will have to work together to help her deal the best with the 4 points above.

What other things do you find make school a royal pain?


  1. Living by their schedule.

    Just one example:

    I lead a level 3 Catechesis of the Good Shepherd atrium - Wednesday evenings are this area's "religious ed nights" - meaning that all the churches have their religious ed on this night if they are going to do anything but Sunday morning. Until about 10 years ago, this was an agreement between the schools and the churches.

    This year.... there is an "all-school" concert put on at the 5th/6th grade school (that is 2 of the grades of children I have - 2/3 of my children) - that ALL children MUST participate in, or write a two-page paper on multi-cultural winter holidays (this is not what the concert is about - the paper has nothing to do with the concert). I have ONE child whose mother said (and the child agrees), they have a commitment on Wednesday evening that school will not cut into (please note, that the mom involved here is a 2nd grade teacher in the same school district - so it's not like she doesn't LIKE the local public schools - she just has a bigger picture goal for her child's childhood) --- so that child is writing the paper.

    But it turns out - you can't even turn in the paper EARLY, because that is not following the instructions - and they can mark you down for "insubordination".

    Seriously! This isn't even a private school - it's PUBLIC school. Private schools I could see this sort of stuff happening.

    1. Wow. Just wow. I honestly can't think of anything more to say at this point. lol