Sunday, July 1, 2012

Inside the Public School

Greetings, readers. I hope you haven't forgotten about me - I'm also a guest writer for this blog, and it's time for me to post something.

I understand that this blog seems to cater to the homeschooling crowd, so as a special treat, I'll give you a look inside the American public school system.

I'll give the broad lesson first. Public schools belong to school districts. To explain, I'll quote a Wikipedia article:

"In the United States, public schools are run by school districts, which are independent special-purpose governments, or dependent school systems, which are under the control of state and local government. A school district is a legally separate body corporate and politic. School districts are local governments with powers similar to that of a town or a county including taxation and eminent domain....Its governing body, which is typically elected by direct popular vote but may be appointed by other governmental officials, is called a school board, board of trustees, board of education, school committee, or the like. This body appoints a superintendent, usually an experienced public school administrator, to function as the district's chief executive for carrying out day-to-day decisions and policy implementations. The school board may also exercise a quasi-judicial function in serious employee or student discipline matters."

Tl;dr version: Not only do school districts contain public schools, but they also act as local governments of sorts. The leader is a superintendent, appointed by the administration - the school board.

Let's get more specific. The school board controls district policies, hires staff, and votes on matters the district controls. Below this administrative level is the individual school, headed by a principal. The principal handles matters in the school itself, such as staff relations and minor policies specific to the school. If the school is big, the principal may have a vice principal, or even class principals, below. The teachers in the school are responsible for educating the student body, and might have a little bit of administrative say, situation pending. And then there is the student, which I can tell you the most about.

Tl;dr version: Superintendent > school board > district > principal > vice principal > teacher > student. I am a student.

Now we get in even deeper. The student is responsible for getting to each of his (or her, but let's just say his) classes on time, paying attention in his classes, doing as he is told, and making the effort to get good grades. Some students chase after extracurricular activities, which have their own responsibilities. If the student does not comply, or cannot successfully act upon their responsibilities, disciplinary action is often taken, but the worst effect is that it makes it more difficult to get into college - or a job. There are additional hassles for a public school student - the other students. A student can have many peers, opening the door for peer pressure, unwelcome adversity such as bullying, and a greater need for good relations. However, the experimentation with communication at this level seems to make public school students better communicators and "people people" than students of other varieties - this is often the reason parents offer when asked why they aren't homeschooling their child. (It would be nice if I had evidence to refute that.)

Tl;dr version: Public schoolers - get to class, pay attention, follow directions, work harder, play ball, conform, go to college, go to work, make friends, get along, be successful, ON THE DOUBLE!

Now that I've given the quick course, let's take a look into one of my past daily schedules (we'll take last semester, for instance). Warning! There is no too long; didn't read version for this part.

I have to wake up at 6:20 AM, which is often before dawn (particularly in winter). Often the pain of waking up keeps me immobilized until 6:30, at which point I eat breakfast despite not being hungry - that, or I just don't like any of the breakfast foods. Suddenly it's 6:50 - I brush my teeth, get dressed (and occasionally stop to consider that at least I don't have to wear a school uniform), daydream (that's not part of my schedule, but for some reason it happens), fix my hair, then head out the door at 7:05 with my backpack in tow. I fight the grogginess and hop on the bus at 7:10-7:15, depending.

...Yep, I'm glad it's summer now. Waking up that early is a killer, considering non-morning people are morning people compared to me.

Anyway, I like it when my bus arrives as early as 7:20 - that gives me time to chat with my friends at the school library. I used to chat with them about things such as my blog (I'll talk a bit about that later, actually), the gross injustices of school, and videogames. Mostly videogames. Once my faith in humanity is restored, it plunges again as the 7:30 bell rings, warning me that I have 5 minutes to get to my first hour class. In this case, it's Spanish.

7:35 rings, and being the only speedster in my school, I'm already in my seat minutes prior. I then try not to fall asleep conjugating verbs into past tenses, and struggle to figure out what my teacher is saying considering it isn't in my native language at first. Yeah, being flat-out decent at writing en espaƱol, I try not to get bored as my teacher recaps, but my interest isn't entirely lost as I try to decipher what he says while speaking Spanish. Still, there's just something demeaning about taking instructions in a different language.

I'm released - temporarily - as the 8:25 bell rings, giving me 5 minutes to get to my second hour class. The semester this story takes place in determines that this class is Personal Finance. I climb that wing's flight of stairs and get into the class. I'm always one of the first there. It's a pity that a class with as much real-world application as this has the most unrestricted computer access, so I take the liberty of checking my e-mail and blog there sometimes. Still, I take the best notes there as these notes are typed - I type fast. Learning the secrets of the economy and of my wallet empowers me to believe that the rest of the day can be like this. While I might be incorrect, it still helps me get my second wind.

9:20 - time for...English. While I fancy myself as a great writer, particularly in creative writing, the instructional methods of this class make me feel as though I know nothing. A shame, really. But, for a while, it makes me happy to see myself progress in the language I know best by far. During one of the uncommon, though not rare, silent reading sessions, I grab a science fiction novel (like Ender's Game) and see myself transported to a world of great adventure and thrill, all within well-chosen words. It provides a nice relief, seeing as the worst is yet to come.

The 10:15 bell releases me, and at 10:20 I'm on the other side of the building in Health class. Like many, I find it to be one of the most tedious courses, but I attempt to maintain interest. Failing that, I engage in antics with one of my friends. But it's in a room of boring (sorry, health teachers of the world) lectures and meaningless fitness-related games, and I'm reminded that I truly am in some warped sort of prison.

Now comes my favorite part.

11:10 - The bell rings, but no one rises from their seats.
11:10:05-20 - The school announcements begin. Having done them myself a day a week for a semester, I understand the importance of them. I manage to ignore them anyway.
11:11 - I look around.
11:12 - I look at my watch, checking the seconds. I also make sure my friend next to me doesn't make any sudden moves, because...
11:13 - ...I speedwalk to the door, and stay there. Most of the time I'm the first one there, meaning I can get out quickest. However, my pal acts as more of an enemy in this case as he attempts to stop me.
11:14 - Any second now...
11:14:50 - I grab the handle...
11:14:55 - ...brace my legs...
11:14:57 - ...breathe in anticipation...
11:14:59 - ...open the door...
11:15 - ...and sprint! I zoom down the hallway at full speed, expertly dodging any traffic that has managed to get there at that point.
11:15:20 - In mere seconds, I arrive at the snack bar line near the cafeteria, purchase my food in a hasty manner, and dash to my seat.
11:16:00-30 - Traffic pending, I'm in my seat by this point. Lunch is in session, though it officially begins at 11:20.

The dashing, the eating, and the wasting the remaining time until 11:50 - I feel almost free at that point. Few other students know what that is like. I guess I'm weird. Anyway, enough getting off-track.

At 11:40, I make my way for history, and I'm seated far before 11:50 locks me in. I then pay attention to some more exciting lectures on colonization, treaties, and modern warfare. Still, I'm continually reminded of where I am. Then, I head to science or math, depending on the day.

Both seem like torture - thinking about it in the present tense (despite it being in the past, *whew*) gives me shivers.

In science, the cure for insomnia, I try to keep my mind clear of the theory of evolution and focus on the annoying antics of the other students who share my apathy and boredom. The warden specializing in torture and torment continues to push boring facts rather than the true bulk of the lesson, and I only stay afloat my covering the teacher's weakness - nerd culture. My Star Wars references and knowledge of science fiction produces chuckles from the teacher as the class breathes a sigh of relief that the lesson is paused. If only I'd brought my laptop - another of my friends pretends to take notes with it, but in actuality he has other things on his mind (such as videogames).

In math, the only bad grade my report card keeps gathering, I try to make sense of the illogical side of numerical logic. Algebraic equations based on the idea of imaginary numbers and confusing variables make my head spin one moment and give me a tidbit of information the next. I yearned to learn how to become even more effective with more logical components - after all, I'd make a fairly decent accountant already. But no - the precursor to the roaring sea of calculus must be opened.

After I try to distinguish the seven or six pillars of information I've acquired, shake off the claustrophobic surroundings, and relax, I'm interrupted by the idea that I still have homework to complete. This is when I'm departing school, at 2:30 or so, by the way.

Between school, homework, and catching up with the family situation, I'm left a couple of hours to enjoy things such as blogging or videogaming. Now that it is summertime, I've been given more time to learn things away from public school - and I have. But not during the regular nine months.

The worst part is when you fall asleep knowing you have to do it all over again.

Not convinced that public school is awful? I left out the parts involving bad interpersonal relations, teen drama, and discipline. Not to mention that I'm eight to ten hours apart from my family, the last few years of - for lack of a better word here - childhood, from the Internet, and from someone to talk to without being silenced by a teacher. And I neglected to mention that my school's policy is not rule-based, but expectation-based, and that each educator there is the cream of the crop for my state - I have one of the most lax, yet most education-heavy schools. And you know what? It's still more of a prison than a learning environment, from the architectural design of the building to the practices borrowed from worse public schools as if normal.

I envy homeschoolers. I'm certain that there is adversity there, but at least it isn't public school.

Okay, maybe I will have something for this:

Tl;dr version: Public schools are akin to prisons in that teachers serve as the wardens more than educators, the grades serve more as grounds for a prison game than a system of dividing curricula, and that the prisoners don't want to be there. In fact, the prisoners haven't even committed a crime (most likely).

Yes, teachers out there, I know you think of yourself as an educator. But please count the number of times you've said "take your seats" or "be quiet" or "let's get back to the lesson", just about anything to that effect. And I also know that good can come from public schooling, but most of it is easily replicated by private schooling and homeschooling.

I realize my thoughts have been somewhat disorganized, and I may have strayed off point a bit. I just can't figure out a way to share all of my thoughts on the public school system status quo. I also realize that another public schooler may have an entirely different experience, and that's fine. I can't give anything but a distorted view. And that is why if you want to know more, you've got to study it.

Alright, next order of business.

Read my blog. It contains many of my thoughts involving school and the like. Actually, it also shows a tidbit of my views of the federal government. Speaking of which, I might post on that next.

Assuming comment moderation is all under control, leave a comment. Tell me what you think of this post. Tell me about homeschooling. Tell me what you'd like to see me post about next, and I might give it a shot.

NOTE: The views expressed by DukeOfAwesome are not necessarily, but very well could be, the views of the Anson S blog as a whole. All discontent with this post should be directed at me, assuming this discontent is actually stemmed from rational thought. DukeOfAwesome and Anson S are not liable for any actions you take on what is written here, nor are we liable for how idiotic you seem while performing said actions. DukeOfAwesome is liable for how long and provocative this made-up disclaimer is, and apologizes sincerely.

3 comments:

  1. The main thing that popped out to me that I know Caleb would disagree with is the fact that public schoolers have better socialization. As it most of the time is, homeschoolers do socialize- with friends, family (if anyone hasn't noticed, homeschoolers generally have a large family), and... homeschoolers! They also can be found socializing/discussing on the Internet, with both other homeschoolers or public schoolers, discussing topics. And yes, the disclaimer is rather long and (sorta) provocative, albeit slightly humorous.

    Extra comment- why don't computer dictionaries know that "homeschoolers" is a word? :\

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good extra comment question.

      I'm glad you've pointed out that homeschoolers do socialize frequently - if only everyone knew that.

      Delete
  2. And, I now see that you wanted to be told about homeschooling. The nice thing is, there is a *lot* of flexibility to it, so it won't all be the same for every family. In the public-school year for us, it goes something like this. And please realize this is all ages, which is why there are topics like reading and handwriting. :)

    7:00 - Wake up, make beds, get dressed, fix hair, etc.
    7:30 - Breakfast with the family.
    8:00 - Breakfast chores.
    9:00 - Math.
    10:00-11:30 - English (and a writing assignment about once every two weeks), reading, handwriting, science, and music.
    Anytime from 11:45 to sometimes 1:30 (oops!) is lunch, and then lunch chores.

    In the afternoon we have history and exercise. That's pretty much it, and our topics don't take long to do (less than 15 minutes for the English/grammar lesson) so quite often (excluding exercise) we're done with our stuff before lunch, and have the afternoons to ourselves. Ah yes, and we fit Bible time in sometime in the morning as well, or have it after dinner with Dad.

    In the summer, we do some school, but not terribly much. The little kids do reading, everyone does some math (the little kids do the most though), and those who play instruments do music. I'm curious as to other homeschooler's time tables- how is it for your family? :)

    I rather liked this topic for a blog post, but I imagine you'll want to do it on something different. Or you could do it on politics, tech, or web design.

    ReplyDelete

I'm Caleb Grove

Yep, that's me. I'm a 17 year old web unicorn and own OnRamp Web Design. My skill base is quite broad, though my real focus lies in UX and UI design for the web. When it comes to designs, I'm a perfectionist, scooting 1 pixel at a time.

My main blog captures all my web-related thoughts that exceed 140 characters. Anson S is my personal blog, where I pander in politics and religion. You can tweet me on Twitter at @SirCalebGrove, circle me on , or friend me on Facebook.

About this site

This is my playground. CalebGrove.com harnesses the power of HTML5 and CSS3. It was built using my web design weapon of choice, Freeway Pro, using a inline flexible system. Responsiveness was hand-coded. The blogs are hosted by Blogger, whose template code was generated by the Blogger actions. Website hosted by GJX Hosting. Creativity provided a disturbed mind, and not much else.

No unicorns where harmed in the making of this website, except through caffeine overdose.