Monday, March 11, 2013

What They SHOULD Teach In School

   One of the lines from Paul Simon’s hit song Kodachrome is “When I look back on all the crap I learned in high school, it’s a wonder I can think at all.

   So true.

   Having received my grammar school education at a Catholic school I can safely say I was well prepared for high school, primarily because they beat the living hell out of you until you knew by heart whatever they taught. Had I known there were high schools that catered to the arts, I would have applied since I was already a fairly good illustrator and had written a couple of songs.

   But I didn’t know they existed.

   So I followed the other lemmings into a catholic high school and promptly wasted 4 years of my life. I knew what I wanted to learn. The school had a course on learning to speak Russian, which I was very much interested in as it was during the Cold War. They also taught classical music, another thing I was very interested in. They also had a drama class that would perform several plays a year, which I felt was another thing I could excel at.

   Except I wasn’t allowed to take any of those courses.

   You see, another thing that I didn’t know was that freshmen were assigned their courses according to their scores on their aptitude tests. I scored very well in math and languages.  It’s fairly well known today that musicians are generally good at math because both use and develop the same area of the brain. The fact that I became a novelist verifies a certain talent for language.  

   But my requests to take Russian and Classical music were immediately turned down. Instead of taking Russian, which I was very enthusiastic about, I was given Latin, a dead language and one I had come to hate having had to learn to recite literally pages of text back when I was an altar boy. And instead of Classical music, I was put in the accelerated math class. Math was a subject I was never interested in and never studied, yet I always managed to maintain a mid-eighties grade.

   So in my freshman year I, of course, flunked Latin and had to go to summer school. In sophomore year I again applied for Russian and had managed to learn a bit of it on my own to show I would do well in the class.

   Nope. I was assigned French, another language I had absolutely no interest in. And although I never paid much attention in Algebra class or bothered to learn the formulas, I still managed to maintain mid-eighties grades.

   Here’s an ironic story for you. I scored an 88% on my freshman Algebra finals having never studied. The thing is with the Algebra final is that you are required to show how you came to your answer, which involved using the correct Algebraic formulas.
I didn’t know any of them. However, I still managed to figure out and correctly answer those, ‘If a car leaves Boston and is traveling at 55 miles an hour and another car… type questions as well as most of the others.

   Because I hadn’t shown my work, I was accused of cheating and they threatened to fail me for the year. I said I hadn’t cheated and to prove it I would take another test, alone and in the front desk while the teacher watched. They figured I was bluffing so they agreed.

   I got a 92% on the second test and explained to the teacher how I had figured out the answers.  I was sure I would be removed from the accelerated math group as I plainly had no interest, knowledge or skills whatsoever. Instead, I was assigned to the Trigonometry class and later Calculus.

   By senior year I was a physical and emotional mess. Why? Because they decided, they would decide what I needed to learn. Not me. The fact that my final average dropped every year following freshman year might have indicated a problem. The fact that I was doing poorly in the maths and sciences (chemistry nearly killed me) and was at the top on my class in English, Social Studies and strangely enough Economics, (at the time Economics was the study of how businesses worked, how product were marketed and the like, which I found very interesting,) might have pointed to a change in strategy.

   Nope. So by graduation I had bleeding ulcers, chronic anxiety attacks and had to take anxiety meds just to make it over the finish line. I didn’t bother to attend my graduation, and although I had been accepted by two very good colleges, there was no way in hell I was going to spend another minute in school. So I never went.

  Now here’s thing. I can play seven musical instruments. I have written over 300 songs. I have written eight novels, 50 short stories, and wrote and illustrated 30 of my own comic books when I was a kid. I designed my band’s logo as well as Ari Publishing’s logo. If you’re a regular reader of my weekly blog you know that I have offered various solutions to our nation’s current problems.

   So you would probably assume that a person blessed with so many God given abilities would have done well in college.

   I guess we’ll never know.

   So would you like to know what needs to be taught in school? Click this link to my other blog for the breakdown.