Thursday, March 15, 2007

The School of Life (Part II)

When I was in Kindergarten (the first day) it took me less than 10 minutes to figure out that it was a scam. It took me no more than 1 hour to vow to myself that I would quit school at the earliest possibility. In 8th grade my mother promised me that I could quit school the next year (when I turned 16). Of course, she went back on her promise just before I was going to quit. A deal was finally negotiated wherein I would attempt to like school in 10th grade, and if I still didn’t like it, I could quit.

So, I coasted through 9th grade, tried in vain to get a negative GPA and waited out the year, I got a horrible case of pneumonia and missed many days of school. The pneumonia and its associated ailments remained with me for many years, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t keep my GPA down. I had avoided doing almost all work, it had been quite a few years since the last time I had taken any homework home. I rarely did any work in class, and I would only do tests when I felt like it. I must say though, you can do nothing at all and get a B or even an A in many classes just by acing a test.

If I was going to college I would have majored in tests. I was great at tests, I never had to know anything about the subject. I could generally skip 15 days in a row, take all the tests and still get a good range of scores (mostly A’s and B’s but some C’s and D’s too) but for me school wasn’t about scores, It was about survival. Not surviving being beat up (although I did get beat up a lot during certain years). A real man (or even a real boy) can take physical beatings. I was also afraid that I would accidentally kill these kids (even though they were in large groups and/or bigger than me), because I was smarter than them, and I generally had a good grasp of why they were beating on me. They were fragile minded children and I was not going to kill them for being too stupid to know that I was not even remotely associated with the source of their rage.

I’m not saying I was very smart back then, just that I was smart in comparison to everyone else. Which is certainly nothing to brag about. As for my current intelligence or smarts, that is no longer an issue. Yes, I’m still much smarter than most people, but I’m not even a reasonable fraction of the person (or mind) that I once was.

Getting back to the survival I was describing... I was speaking of the mental terrors that were imposed upon me from the beginning to the end of my schooling. Some outstanding torments included Kindergarten’s infamous Nap Time (which is particularly bad for an insomniac) where I was forced to lay down on the concrete floor on a towel I brought from home and stare at the ceiling for 45 minutes, being forced to play with blocks, square dancing, floor hockey, baseball, having teachers attempt to force me to sing, being locked outside with all the idiot students during recess as if I hadn’t spent more than my share of time with them (of course I would sneak back in through the window and read or hire myself out as a spy most of the time), being forced to do math again after I figured out how, being forced to use their mathematical systems, being forced to write with cursive letters, being forced to print everything after being forced to write fancy for a couple years, being forced to use pencil, being forced to use pen after deciding pencil was okay, being told you have to buy a calculator, being told you can’t use the calculator, being told that you can use the calculator but you have to show your work...

I know what some of you are thinking, “these are things YOU hated, but it wasn’t about you, It was about all of the students”. And you’re right, it certainly had nothing to do with me, except to attempt to remove all the me from me and turn me into an industrial robot. Even as a very young child I knew that square dancing and memorizing the lyrics to Sidney is a Silly Centipede were not viable “life skills”, but you know what? I was the only kid that protested singing the song on the grounds that it was stupid and on moral grounds (which again amounted to the fact that I thought it was stupid). I was the only kid who protested any of this garbage and I had my personality set to negative decibels and was running a personality white noise maker, I was trying my best not to complain, but it was ALL so stupid and it was killing me. All the robotards around me seemed to bask in it. As a side note, it turns out I was 100% correct, it is a very stupid song. So, the one with the backbone and the mind to run it should have been the one controlling the curriculum.

I was affected by the conformity of singing later on, when a particularly harsh teacher wasn’t going to take “it’s retarded” for an answer, and I had to once again compromise my principles and pretend to be singing the song (by moving my lips). Turns out that this was life training that I one day had to use, when my “team” at work had finished all of our work for that day but one of the higher-ups was walking through the building, the manager comes running in and shouts, “look busy”. It is a very sad realization, knowing that I had picked that up from school, that I actually did have to use it in “the real world”, and that it was just as stupid as square dancing. I tried to avoid similar jobs in the future and got very good at quitting jobs that offended my conscience.

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