Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Let The Dreamers, Dream

The Dreamer

I discussed a TED Talk I watched recently in which Ken Robinson, a former professor detailed his view of the problems public education faces internationally. He called the system a drawn out application process for higher education and a system that was trying to produce university professors to the exclusion of all else.

I agree.

Personally, I did well in school, tested well, was in the top of my class. School was easy and most of the time boring. Because I showed an aptitude for academics, I was placed on the college prep path and it was a given that I would go to college, and really, isn’t that the goal? Go to college, get an education, get a good job, get paid a higher salary and be respected above those trades people who couldn’t quite make it to college or through college.

There is an intellectual elitism, a friction, created and encouraged in the school system and that intellectual elitism is unnecessary and ultimately destructive.

I hated academics and realized that math was not my love when calculus showed up on the curriculum. I cared little for the specifics of science and if I could, I would have stayed in the art room all day long, painting and writing and reading. Art was not encouraged, and my other interests, working with wood and building, was not an option because, well, I was a smart kid.

The less intelligent, the non-college bound kids, they were shunted into the trade classes, the auto shop, the construction classes, the welding classes. I was told that would be a waste of my time. Though teachers and guidance councilors didn’t say it outright, I was pressured to stay on the path, to avoid trades and classes beneath my intellect.

Looking back, I wish I could have bucked the system, but I was just a kid and I did what I was told, what was expected of me. And truthfully, even then, I felt that I was too good for those other classes. I didn’t want to be with the dummies who could barely read and who had trouble with numbers over ten. I was an elitist in the making, high on my intelligence, thinking that life was mine because I knew the names of great writers, understood what higher math functions were, could discuss current events using words that those other kids had never heard of.

That’s bullshit.

My thirties have been spent so far learning the things that I should have learned years ago, doing the things I should have been doing as a teenager. I see the value in being able to build a house, which is just as important as being the architect who designs the house. Who gets the money and the respect? The ‘smart’ architect or the ‘dumb’ construction monkey?

Yeah. It isn’t the guy with the lunch bucket getting just over minimum wage. The working man who doesn’t have time for more than a half hour of the evening news, if even that, he doesn’t get the respect, not in this society.
I say, open the schools, encourage kids to learn to their ability and their talents. Let the kids who love art, create art, those who want to build, build and let the dreamers, dream.


Misted Mischief said...

Loved this. It feels like you narrated my entire school career, except that I lacked an interest in woodshop.

Great post.

farawayeyes said...

Been there done that. Took me years to learn to cook, sew and don't even talk to me about balancing a checkbook.

MT Nickerson said...

Isn't sad, that after years of school, the basics remain to be learned... or not?

Anonymous said...

My roommates and I spent many nights discussing these same points about public education and society's views on the subject. They appear much more pronounced in college.

MT Nickerson said...

The freedom to discover who you are, what you can be, what you want to be seems impossible with how the education system is currently structured.

Celestian, I remember college as being a limiting place, where I had to fulfill requirements rather than take course that fulfilled me.

Julia Rachel Barrett said...

Um, your entire life is spent learning. That's the good. If you stop learning, well, is there a reason to go on?
Nobody expects you to have tremendous insight as a teenager. Sure some teens have more than others, but sometimes insight comes later. As long as it comes...that's the important thing.
Think the unexamined life...

MT Nickerson said...

Only, I feel like my teen years were wasted, spent fruitlessly on some else's view of what I should be, not what I wanted to be.

I had a pretty good handle as a teenager on what I dreamed to be, but I wasn't rebellious enough to buck a weighted system. Too many kids are locked into an education that serves them poorly, doesn't give them a chance to grow, or explore and discourages free thinking and expression.

Or so says I, anyway.

Brett Bee said...

Sir Ken Robinson is one of my personal heroes. I wish his TED speech had been around when I was in my early teens.

MT Nickerson said...

First time I've heard him speak. I was very impressed, Brett. A fast twenty minute presentation that I enjoyed immensely.

Julia Rachel Barrett said...

My teenage years were insane. INSANE. But my teachers were great. Long story.
I think if your parents are in your corner, even if you buck the system, you do okay.
It's never too late, you know...

MT Nickerson said...

I'm busy, bucking the system as we speak! (And my teachers were awesome, but they, too, were beholden to a clunky, misbegotten monster we call our education system... IMO)