very good thread. thanks to deveandepot, nyranger and cbrown (and everyone else) for contributions. here's a short essay i wrote in twelfth grade. the assignment was a response paper to an essay about new york schools titled "savage inequalities" - the teacher was basically asking what we learned from our school careers. i was basically railing against the system in my immature way, but maybe you guys can gain some insight from my disillusionmentreading it again, i find it kind of stupid. this thread is challenging me to return to the topic to try and write something a bit more constructive
Quote:The biggest thing that school taught me is that I do not like school. I hate classrooms. I hate having to huddle behind small desks while the teacher has a big one. I hate the endemic inequality in an education system that is allegedly against it. Schools, with all their iron bars and brick walls, have all the visual flair of a prison. In 10th grade, I was sent to a school called T.L. Kennedy in Toronto. This school had all the hallmarks of the New York public schools described in Savage Inequalities. The teachers were terrible, the condition of the building was terrible, there was no field, and there was a police station next door. The students, of course, were largely black and brown, and there was a strong sense of communal hatred for the authority figures that locked them up in this hellish place for eight hours a day. In fact, it was this collective anger that pushed me to feel that there would be no going to school after this, not for a long time. It was not long before I gained the ability to put into words what I truly felt about school. It was not prisons I was reminded of, so much as factories. The students were commodity X, subjected to process Y, to add capability Z – a very faceless, impersonal state of affairs. No wonder my teachers never looked me in the eyes. After all, we live in a capitalist society, and the education system definitely reflects that. Capitalism is all about investing something with the goal of getting returns on that investment. The investment made by society is us, the students. The expected returns are armies of indoctrinated robots – drones, trained to occupy fields of cubicles, buy rows of meaningless products, and march in line. Capitalist society needs – if I may shoplift a phrase – good corporate citizens. The only quibble I have with this is that I am not society’s property to invest. This may seem a presumptuous statement to make, but it is the only conclusion I can come to after reviewing all my experiences. School purportedly exists to equip the callow youth to survive in the real world. It does not succeed at this. Instead, throughout my youth, it blinded me to the fact that there is a real world, and instead gave me a fake world, inhabited mostly by fake people, with fake agendas and no real claim to being alive besides having a pulse. So where did all this lead me? After all, I am still in school. I attend it regularly, learn my lessons, and (occasionally) complete the work I am assigned. On the surface not much has changed, but in my head, everything has. I have finally found a role that fits me, the same one that eluded me in my younger days. I am a prisoner, yes, but I know that I am a prisoner. And unlike the other prisoners born and raised in this place, I know that there is an outside, and just that simple thought fills me with such a vicarious thrill for life that I find myself easily able to tackle the monotony I once found unbearable. So it is with the grizzled eyes of a student of life, not of any class, that I watch the proceedings in the classroom.