If you haven’t heard about the Common Core debate in most school systems today, you’ve either been hiding under a rock or you are one of the students that this is going to effect. I can’t fully explain how this is going to effect students, but I can tell you how my middle school and high school careers prepared, or failed to prepare, me for college and life in general. I cannot place full blame on the school systems, however, I had more than enough access to libraries and other learning materials to teach myself. Rather, my want to be lazy is to blame for my failure to make up for the school system’s failures. I will divide this up into the common core subjects, then I will go into the other subjects not even covered in school that should be.
- English. I sat in my EN 219, Honors American Literature I class last week when our professor announced our next class would cover Moby Dick. He asked how many students had read this epic American classic that is now known to define what it means to be American. I am glad to say I was one of the THREE students who raised their hands. But I do NOT have Ardmore High School to thank for that. I knew this would be covered and did not want to be the oblivious student in the class. Let me repeat this is an HONORS class. The elite of the elite college students, all with 29 or above ACT scores. With a requires 3.5 GPA. Only 3 out of 24 students have read this American classic, and we are Americans. Other than the lack of reading, writing is another issue altogether. I took EN 101 and 102 while in 11th grade through the University of Alabama. I made my first C in that class on my first paper and I learned quickly, I was not prepared for college. Now I help edit papers for my friends before they turn them in, most never receiving below a B+ after I bleed over their papers. Some I get are decent, others might as well go in the shredder. I’m not even close to joking.
- Math. I had an incredible math teacher all throughout high school. I was always very good at math, but college once again proved to be more difficult. I took Calculus I spring of my freshman year. I squeaked by with a B-. Making exam grades as low as a 45. There were more than a few nights I stayed up all night studying, and days I left class nearly in tears. I’m not sure there is any way to prepare for calculus, but I know giving tests where we have a notecard as a cheat sheet probably did not help my study skills.
- History. Let me start and end this with one sentence. If I had to take another history class or if you were to ask me what year some important war began or end, I would fail. (And I’m an American).
- Science. Chemistry kicked my ass. (Please excuse my language.) 80. That was the grade I made on every. single. exam. I never once made it through a lab without asking another group to help. I HAD ABSOLUTELY NO CLUE WHAT I WAS DOING. Be glad I changed my major from pre-pharmacy to PR within the first year. I made it out with an A, but I spent 4 days…all day, all night…in the library during finals week. Friends brought me food. I didn’t shower. I didn’t sleep. It was the worst week of my life. I missed the Aerosmith concert to study in a library.
So those are the common core. Do you see where high school are obviously lacking. I took chemistry in high school. I did not know a single thing taught in my college chemistry class. I wrote papers in my H.S. English classes, but I didn’t know how to write until I took a UA course. I still don’t know American or World History, and I should be ashamed. Let’s just hope I never have to take a math class again. But it should be noted, most cannot compute easy multiplication problems without a calculator.
On to the real lessons we fail to learn before we are ushered into the real world:
- How to write a resume and/or cover letter. Ask my boyfriend, I nearly chopped his head off when I saw his for the first time. Also, high school resumes should be trashed immediately after acceptance into college. Part time jobs do not even have interest in those crappy resumes.
- How to pay taxes. Thank you Mom, I should probably sign my refund check over to you when I get it next year. Because I don’t even know where to start, nor do I know how to fill out the W2 form for a job. My mom had to walk my through it over the phone.
- How to take care of a household. When I first met my roommates for freshman year, one of them asked how often the maid service came around. I believe it was also asked when they pick up our laundry. SOME PEOPLE DON’T KNOW HOW TO DO LAUNDRY. Let that sink in. How to take care of a household is a whole new picture. Bills. Cleaning toilet, sink, tub, shower. How to get rid of ants. My favorite recent story is my best friend. She lives in a house now, and they noticed a leak in their ceiling coming from the upstairs bathroom. Shower curtains go inside the tub, not outside. Anything other than curling hair should be covered in some type of class.
- Nutrition. Freshman 15. Anorexia. Bulimia. etc. I had a bout with some type of stomach disorder recently that was linked with stress. My excuse was “I don’t have time to eat.” And when I did eat, there were more than one consequence that is too disgusting to type. It was not pleasant. I did not know how to properly feed my body to avoid consequences. Eating Roman Noodles and somedays only having a cup of coffee.
- Government/politics. We all take a half credit of Government in high school. What we don’t learn is the absolute bull crap we are fed by the media and Facebook and etc. The biased views, the laws written in just the right way to sound good but mean a complete opposite thing, or how about just learning how the whole system works including what police officers can and cannot do when they pull you over. Also what you can and cannot do when you get arrested, one of my neighbors was arrested in the drug bust at UA last spring, he was underage and they shared his photo with the press. He had a good lawyer. Note: I am not saying what he did was right or in any way okay, but after personally seeing his room after the arrest, I understand we should know our rights and privileges in this country because not everyone will respect them.
- Careers. WHO KNEW IF YOU MAJORED IN ENGLISH YOU DON’T HAVE TO TEACH FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. Oh my gosh, what a great revelation that was! You can major in biology and NOT be a doctor. You can major in just about anything and still get just about any job. You want to know why I and other students did not know this, because when we read “English” on the form of majors, we automatically assume. You want to know why, because no one wants to inform us and the internet does almost no good.
- Cars. How to change a tire, change oil, tell what light means what and what to do when one comes on. What to do if you have a wreck. Etc.
- International Affairs. I’m taking an Egyptian Culture class and I am absolutely embarrassed by the questions. People actually believe the place is all sand with men controlling women–women who wear black maxi, long-sleeved dresses but of course wear couture clothing underneath–this new revelation courtesy of Sex and the City 2. Most of which completely unaware of the Muslim Brotherhood or the revolution that occurred just 2 years ago. Yes, I’m utterly embarrassed.
You may think this list is stupid, but I promise I am part of the majority of students who did not know many of these things prior to moving out of my parents house. In fact, if I had not experience many of these things in the past year, I would still be oblivious. This video I saw on Buzzfeed opened my eyes to the new dangers attacking education. I did not rely on this video alone. I’ve researched and asked current teachers. There is no longer an advanced diploma in the state of Alabama. So all you over-achieving high school students no longer have ANYTHING to push you to take those more difficult classes that might drag down your GPA. In fact, just take Art 1, 2 and 3. Take every single easy, basic class. No need to study because guess what, you are in the same class with average students, below average students, and even those students who are waiting until the day they can drop out of school. So, your test will be just as easy, and if its not…write a ugly note and sign your mom’s signature, you can get the grade changed just to avoid conflict. Enjoy that certificate of attendance. Way to follow the law and actually show up for class at least 160 of the 180 days you have to attend school. You really can achieve anything you set your mind to.
Education has fallen. Our country will fall. i run into students everyday who ask why I would consider studying abroad. You want to know why? I want diversity. I want a challenge. I want something different. I want to learn. I want to see the world. I want to know where I came from. I want to see buildings older than my parents, and older than their parents. I want to see buildings older than the U.S. I want to see countries that have fallen and risen and fallen again. If that means I have to leave my family for a month, so be it. If that means I don’t have Friday night dates with my boyfriend every week, I think we’ll make it. If that means that I get the opportunity to see the world and place diversity on my resume and compete in an INTERNATIONAL work force, GREAT. One day, I might have to send my kids overseas to get the education they deserve because if it weren’t for teachers going the extra mile, or my parents pushing me, I would have a 19 on my ACT, going to a community college–if any at all–getting a degree that won’t even benefit my future as a worker at a factory that has more risks than benefits.
So thank you to:
Mrs. Mullins–my absolute favorite, all time teacher. You taught me in 1st grade and I have never forgotten the yellow and red colors all over your classroom. The phrase “Readers are leaders” has been embedded into my brain. She still teaches, focusing on reading. I really don’t know if she knows how much she impacted my life, but if she ever reads this, she should know that I will forever be indebted to her for giving me a passion for reading and actually paying attention to the kids in her classroom.
Mrs. Blair–Another teacher that gave me a love for reading. I believe she also kick-started my OCP by letting my put her name on all the chairs and desks when preparing to move her from Ardmore Elementary to Cedar Hill.
Mrs. Garner–Probably the most hated 6th grade teacher at the time, but her attention to detail made us pay attention to detail–something that aids in my major of public relations. Also, I know all of my objects of preposition and helping verbs because she drilled them in our heads.
Mrs. Rolin–for teaching me math that aided in my passing calculus. Actually lecturing every. single. day. despite our first period distractions, especially junior year.
Mrs. Hilliard–for giving us stories to read outside the “recommended” lists, like Ender’s Game and etc. Mixing in interesting books with the boring and explained every single line of Hamlet and Sir Gawain (especially Sir Gawain, my entire Brit Lit 1 final was over that stupid text).
Mrs. Clem–I never had her in class, but she probably impacted my life the most in my teen years. If it were’t for my fear of being late or being called out for not knowing a dance, I would not have learned how to learn things in a matter of minutes or keeping a group of 16 girls from absolutely murdering each other. Also, for encouraging me from being the absolute last person picked for the team in 6th grade to being captain senior year. Another debt, I will never repay. That privilege was more than an honor.
Teachers extend far beyond the classroom. Some of these not only teach, but coach teams, some multiple. They direct clubs and have countless responsibilities outside the responsibilities they have at home with their families.
After saying that, they are being unbelievably pressured to have X number of students pass exams with at least 70%, some higher, with no regard to the different levels of intelligence and different abilities to learn. They have more desks in their classrooms than books and have to teach a lesson within 50 minutes, not including the days they have club meetings, pep rallies, or special events. In those 50 minutes, they must take roll, pass out materials, then release students too soon after they’ve started lecturing.
So basically, my point is the government needs to focus on international relations, trade, border control, and etc, and let the professionals (actual classroom teachers) make the standards. Or, better yet, if you fail, you don’t pass. No changing grades, no retakes. You simply must redo the entire class–just like you would in college. I’m more than thankful I graduated when I did, with the privilege of earning an advanced high school diploma and learning from the few teachers that actually teach left in the school system.