All I Know is I Dunno

13 Jan

Still riding the bummer induced by the documentary I saw last night, Race to Nowhere, I’ve cheered myself somewhat by reminiscing about how gosh-dern easy I managed to have it in school.  The film – an expose on the emotional and physical toll that the “achievement culture” takes on kids, the embarrassing stain of a legacy that No Child Left Behind promises to leave behind, and, perhaps even more concerning, the long-term societal effects of turning our children into robots – left me spittin’ mad.

RIP Old Shoe Tree

Just to clarify: spittin’ mad means I’m livid but essentially can’t do a frickin thing about the source of my ire, so I just spit.  Like when I dare to dwell on the fact that there’s a whole army of fucktards out there who think Glenn Beck is for real, or when I recently learned that some a-hole thought it’d be a laugh riot to chop down the Nevada Shoe Tree on Hwy 50. When I’m spittin’ mad, I do what every red-blooded American does when faced with inconvenient facts: I think about something else.

runnin' free & up to no good

(cue transitional music) Ahhhh, remember the carefree educational days of the 70’s?  “Discover your desks, people!”  All the way through to junior high, “homework” was but a whimsical notion of the uptight past, desks were arranged in conversational clusters, group projects abounded, and individual assignments were completed at a student’s own pace.  Despite the ominous trifecta of a new decade, a new President, and a new town that threatened to ruin the good vibes forever as I began high school, I somehow managed to skate through regardless, the Just Say No hysteria close at my heels.  Minimal homework,  the occasional academic challenge, and an 11th-hour 3-day expulsion “on my permanent record,” then BAM! Directly-home-pass-go, and ….. UCLA it is.  Cake, people!  And I think I actually learned a few things along the way.

(jump ahead to the recent past)  Fact:  my son’s 7th grade Algebra teacher was a dick.  A teacher friend of mind told me to leave an anonymous note on the dick’s desk that said “your engagement strategies aren’t working!”  Engagement or no, the guy was simply a tried-and-true jerkwad. The only consolation I could offer my son was to tell him “sometimes you just have teachers who suck,” and  give him repeated free passes on the numbing piles of repetitious homework.  When the STAR test results arrived the following summer, which reported my son’s math score at 100% – despite the Algebra teacher’s insistence that my son was having trouble “getting it” – I wanted to run it over to that asshole’s house, shove it in his face and yell “Ha!  Whaddya think now, eh!  Ha!” like the mortifyingly embarrassing mom that I am.

In the midst of my own hippie dream-world of an education, I did periodically  encounter equally f-ed up teachers, of course.  There was the old hag who indiscriminately forced kids to wash their mouths out with soap, and the frighteningly cruel Mr. Duval, tyrannical despot of 8th grade History.  And let’s not forget the Born Again choir director who repeatedly pressured my best friends and I to “confess” to our evil misdeeds (beer + boys) while on tour.  But at the end of the day, none of them really got under my skin; or, perhaps more importantly, invaded my life beyond the boundaries of school.

That, I think, is the primary difference between then & now. The intense homework load that threatened to break my son’s spirit, and hijacked the usual lighthearted, laissez-faire atmosphere of our household, was, quite literally, an intruder.  Or maybe more like an extremely rude, high-maintenance guest. Said guest has thankfully since been discharged, and we’ve returned to a more relaxed atmosphere at home, but it saddens me to think that the days of actually enjoying learning may be numbered, perhaps are already gone entirely.

they dig, dig?

Discover your desks, people!


2 Responses to “All I Know is I Dunno”

  1. Sandra Ortiz January 14, 2011 at 9:48 am #

    I love you! Outstanding! Too true!

  2. Barbara January 14, 2011 at 4:59 pm #

    Maybe Hil should go back to that hairstyle. Can’t say I really like the current one. But who am I to talk. I’m just jealous of anyone with that much hair.

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