What In The World?

The world is a strange place. I have a lot that I’d like to say, so I’m going to sit here and write. You can either read all of this, or you can scroll down to the paragraphs that don’t seem as long as the others.

“Children are our future.”

I’m so tired of hearing that line. Not because I think it’s untrue. And definitely not because I hate Whitney Houston’s song. But because it is just so obvious. It’s like telling me I need oxygen to breathe. I know. Everyone knows.

Children can do no wrong, for the most part. They are the designated cute members of society who are normally running around with dirty hands and drool running from their mouth because they are laughing so hard.

“They’re just a kid”; “They don’t know any better”; and “It’s okay”, are just a few of the excuses given for their actions. They are untouchable. They are our future. We must protect them.

And then something happens. They turn into teenagers and become a blemish on society. All of a sudden they’re told to “Grow up” and “Stop acting so immature”.

What changed?

Is it because they’re now in high school and their teacher tells them on the first day that they’re going to be treated as adults now, but oh yeah, be sure to raise your hand when you need to go to the washroom and the teacher will decide if you can relieve yourself or not.

Woo, adulthood. #MadeIt

I look back on my elementary school days and a lot of questions pop up. What exactly were they preparing me for and why didn’t anyone tell me the meaning behind anything?

I mean, I get the whole learning how to read, write, and talk stuff, but what about everything else?

Kindergarten was all about “Show and Tell” and rolling in a barrel at recess when you couldn’t find a ball that could actually bounce.

In Grade 1, my report card said that I shouldn’t share my snack with others. Noted. But at least I was a pleasure to teach.

In Grade 2, my report card said that I socialized too much. I thought it was a compliment, until I told it wasn’t. Noted. But at least I was a pleasure to teach.

In Grade 3, my teacher told my mom that I took my time drawing out each letter in every word and that I should write faster. Noted. But at least I was a pleasure to teach.

To this day, whenever I’m writing something down, I always think I’m moving too slow. When I was in university, I would copy notes down from the board and look around to see if I was the last one done. I was normally one of the first, but I still couldn’t shake the “Write faster” comment from Grade 3.

Snacks, socializing, and write faster. That’s what was important?

In Grade 4, I received a C+ in Algebra. I didn’t even know what Algebra was, other than something that had to do with math. Again, I was a pleasure to teach.

In another grade (I can’t remember which), we were given a surprise math test. Every question looked like these three examples:

13    15     20
10     8      17

The only instructions on the sheet were, “Find the sum.” No one in the class knew what the word “Sum” meant. Isn’t that great? A test with instructions that included a word to which we didn’t know the meaning. It was like French class all over again.

I always found that tests never really tested what the students knew. Well, they did, to an extent. But a lot of the time, tests challenged us to do things we hadn’t learned how to do yet. Why? So we could show off our critical thinking skills.

I didn’t really get it. Now I do. But when you’re 12-years-old and are told you’re having a test in two days on the content you’ve been working on in the textbook, you don’t really prepare for anything else.

So when you take the children of the future and start treating them like adults after a two month summer vacation, and realize they are now teenagers who are developing a bunch of different attitudes, of course they’re going to look like an annoyance.

But it’s okay, because they’ll grow up in high school and take their college level classes and BAM, they’re ready for life after high school.

What?

Why are we asking 17-year-olds to decide what they want to do with their life and apply to schools based on that? We all know it’s stupid. And no one ever does anything about it. No one ever changes the system.

We sit in high school and memorize math equations most of us will never use ever again. Why?

I sat through two years of Science in high school. I did experiments. I memorized most of the Periodic Table. I analyzed my spit under a microscope. I did a presentation on the solar system. Not because I wanted to. But because I had to.

And I get it. Give the students a taste of every subject just in case something inspires them and they want to pursue a career in that. Fine.

That didn’t make me enjoy walking into Science class. I couldn’t wait for the bell to ring. That’s a problem, isn’t it?

At least say, “If you don’t see a career for yourself in this subject, this is why it’s still important.” Tell my 14-year-old self why. Because at that age, it just felt like a speed bump in front of lunch.

By the end of high school, I knew how to write essays and cite them using MLA format. I went on to university and was told on Day 1 that I would only be using APA format. Fantastic.

I don’t mean to bash the school system, but does it not occur to them to teach students about life? My Grade 11 Media Studies class was the only class where we ever talked about current events.

Every other class was as if there was no world outside of school. Maybe that’s why entering the workforce is known as entering the “real world” because the one we grew up in was so sheltered.

Sit me down and tell me about life. Don’t tell me the pretty picture that’s been painted for me since kindergarten. Tell me the challenges, so I can prepare for them.

Don’t tell me to take a career quiz and choose from a list of twenty jobs to decide what I should be when I grow up. Don’t tell me life is as easy as, “Get a job when you need money”.

There were people in high school who only got involved in clubs or student council because it looked good on a resume. They didn’t care to be there. They just needed something on a resume because that’s what the world expects.

You could be the best person in the world, but if you don’t have relevant black ink on your resume, too bad.

As for university, that is when you realize you know absolutely nothing and are forced to grow up.

That is where students are memorization robots. They learn everything they need to know for one test, and then they can forget it all as soon as they leave the classroom.

Survive and advance.

Moving on from schooling.

Politics. Yay. Hooray!

Politics has become such a joke. I can’t take any politician seriously, can you? Answer honestly. It’s almost as if politicians are in a world of their own and have no idea how to communicate with people anymore.

When they talk, it is so obvious that they are trying to appeal to certain demographics. Does anyone fall for it?

I like sports. If a politician mentions the local sports teams in their speech, is that their way of earning my vote? By finding a common interest with me? By making it seem like if we went to a game together, we’d have a good time in each other’s company?

It’s just all very insincere and phony. There is a lot of phoniness in the world.

Late night talk shows have been making Trump jokes every single night for the past two years. I stopped laughing at them a long time ago. Is this what people like? Is this the entertainment that people crave? Trump jokes?

Come on.

Humour is dead. I consider myself to be a funny person and I don’t have to rely on memes or political jokes to do it. What’s everyone else’s excuse? Oh yeah, they aren’t funny on their own. They need a crutch.

Many times, that crutch is used on social media.

Social media has brought out the worst in people.

I don’t know what I expect, but the amount of stupidity I see online every day continues to leave me appalled.

Someone passes away and random people will take it as an opportunity to make a joke or say something inappropriate. I witnessed it yesterday. It made me sick.

I read things online and I almost can’t believe someone would take the time to type out such cruel words and then hit “Enter”.

Is the “real world” just school on a larger scale? Do these people just want attention?

Why does everyone want attention these days?

I will see posts on Instagram of people posting two photos – one of them is “natural”, and the other is of them “working their angles” for the camera. Then the caption will be a nice long rant about how you shouldn’t believe everything you see on social media and be proud of who you are.

Excuse me? You’re the one perpetuating this unrealistic image in every single one of your photos, just so you can get popular and don’t have to get a real job because deep down you have no idea what to do with yourself other than take pictures of yourself.

Honestly.

Is everyone just scared? Is that what it is? Is that why everyone feels the need to fall in line and attach themselves to the latest trends?

I went through my first 12 years of school not being able to talk about baseball with anyone except one person. All of sudden, the Toronto Blue Jays make the playoffs for the first time in 20+ years and the entire closet is emptied with fans who must’ve been in hiding.

No, I don’t buy it. You thought baseball was boring just a few months ago. You’re only at the game because it’s a photo op. It’s a chance for you to fit in with what’s hip and cool.

Again, there’s a lot of phoniness in the world.

People worship celebrities, as if they are from a different planet and don’t breathe the same air we do. Sure, it’s great to have role models and people who entertain us, and inspire us, and all that jazz and hip-hop.

But calm down. You don’t have to reply to all of their tweets. You don’t have to bow at their feet. You don’t even have to run after them when you see them on the street.

Non-famous people are the ones who make people famous. It’s not them. It’s us. We are the ones paying their salary to play a sport in front of us. We are the ones going to see their movie. We are the ones buying their book. We are the ones watching their ridiculous television show.

We make them famous.

And in doing so, we look to them for guidance. We expect athletes to be at the forefront of movements and protests. We expect celebrities to speak out. We expect artists to send a message to the world through their music.

We expect all of this, as if we are incapable of developing our own thoughts. No. We have to look to our favourite famous person and see what they think.

We give them Saint status because their PR representatives have done a great job at convincing us they are exactly who we think they are.

We have to look at the guy who scores 40 goals in a season and grows a playoff beard, and ask them for their opinion. And then, like sheep, we follow.

Again, it’s an example of school on a larger scale.

The teacher leaves the classroom during a test and everyone starts whispering. “What’s the answer to #5?” Someone loudly whispers, “B”. The sheep circle ‘B’, not knowing it’s the wrong answer.

And in this world where we look to celebrities for guidance, we are constantly at the mercy of corporations who want nothing more than our money (and our email address, so they can bombard us).

Everything is an advertisement.

Buy, buy, buy. You need this.

You need to have luscious hair like the model, who just so happens to have a perfect smile, in the shampoo commercial.

You need this perfectly made burger and pristine, rectangular french fries.

You need the new smartphone because its screen is two centimetres wider and there is more storage and all the kids at school will have one.

It just never ends. And I know the economy has to keep spinning, but I can’t remember the last time someone was genuine when they tried to sell me something. Or when they made it seem like it was my choice.

Some stores will ask you if you want to make a small donation to charity, when you pay for the item you just purchased. And when you decline their request, it’s as if you just told a homeless person to go starve to death.

Don’t guilt me into donating money, especially when you ambush me.

That just feels like I’m being set up and judged.

Calendars will continue to turn and the world will enter the future faster than any of us can imagine. Heck, it’s already 2017. And as time passes, technology will continue to develop.

Back to the kids of the future for a second, should we tell them now that there won’t be any jobs for them by the time they graduate because adults are hell-bent on creating robots to replace us in the workplace? Or is that something we should tell them when they’re older?

Seriously, what is this deep fascination with technology? Oh yeah, to make operations more efficient and to save money. Got it.

Well where does that leave us? The people who had to choose their career at age 17 and were told the world was their oyster.

Maybe the world is not an oyster. Maybe the world is a minefield without a map.

Maybe our peers are the map, but the world has become so connected that we fail to make the meaningful connections we all need, in order to navigate the minefield.

Woah, that was deep.

And I’d like to think the observations I’ve mentioned here today, as well as the ones that have been festering in your mind, will all be addressed so we could all live happily ever after and sing kumbaya by the fire without the urge of posting a picture of it on Instagram.

I’d like to think that we all still have a lot to learn about the world and each other. And the only way to learn is to teach – we don’t need to be in a classroom to do that.

But I don’t know what the future holds. All I know is it will hold us.

And at one point in our lives, we were a pleasure to teach.

So, what in the world happened?

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About Paul

This is the part where I'm supposed to write something interesting about myself and you'll read it and think, "That's not that interesting." So let's not do that and just think about pizza instead, on the count of three. One, two, three. Donuts. Now, wasn't that interesting?
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30 Responses to What In The World?

  1. Squid says:

    What happened? The Germans had this great little plan called Kindergarten (if you don’t say it like everyone from the Sound of Music, you’re doing it wrong). This was so that they could take the kids from their parent’s influence at age 5 and train them in the principles the state wanted them to learn. Families are dangerous. Communist China used this tactic too, of mass propagation. America thought it was a good idea. Previous to this, a lot of people homeschooled. Parents took the Bible seriously when it said to train up a child in the way they should go, so that when they are old, they would not depart from it. Parents have an emotional investment in their child, thus giving them an incentive to teach more to their kids than a teacher would. Growing up homeschooled, I’m slightly biased on this subject (can you tell?), but I think it does hold water. Thoughts? I should probably do a whole post on this… I have way too much I want to say, but I really hate long comments, soooo bye
    Squid

    Liked by 2 people

    • Paul says:

      Woah History lesson lol thanks for that. You should do a post on it, I’ve always wondered what homeschoolers think of the experience and if they feel like they’re missing out on anything. If I had been homeschooled, my fear would’ve been growing up without experiencing certain things or not having many friends. I also think I’d be more uncomfortable in social situations and the transition to university would’ve been harder. But that’s just an outsiders perspective. It seems to be working great for you!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. rebbit7 says:

    Love this. You basically expressed what I’ve been thinking about for the past two years: since graduating college, I have become cynical to the fact that my 16 years of education taught me very little about the real world. For instance, where was the class to teach me to pay my bills or write a great resume? Or how to fix a clogged sink when it’s backed up? Instead, I learned multi-variable calculus and organic chemistry (which were interesting, but not practical to what I’m doing now).

    My issue is that we’re required to take many courses that we might not particularly enjoy, and while I agree with you that doing so can help inspire students, should they be interested in pursuing the arts or the sciences later down the line. But to have these classes continue until the first and second years of college is a bit excessive, and we could do so much more with our time if we took classes based on our major, and then some with practical matters like paying bills and so forth.

    Thanks for sharing, Paul. Really good food for thought today.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Paul says:

      It really is amazing how people from different countries all went through the same school experience. At the time, we think it’s normal, or at least I thought it was. I didn’t second guess learning math equations. I just did it because I had to.
      I completely agree with you about taking mandatory electives in 1st and 2nd year. I found it to be too excessive. My 1st year of university, I had 2 courses related to my major and the other 7 weren’t. I was so mad. I felt like I was finally free to study what I wanted, but couldn’t.
      There should definitely be a course somewhere in high school or 1st year college about life and how to deal with different situations etc. I don’t even think they need to give school credit for it.

      Liked by 2 people

      • rebbit7 says:

        Agree with you on the last point. Don’t think any needs to count, really, unless you go to grad school afterwards, I suppose. The grading system is severely limiting, and it merits knowing how to beat the system rather than actually know your stuff; it’s unfair. That’s why I’ve always struggled on tests that weren’t free responses, because they were definitely geared towards those who knew the trick questions and whatnot (don’t even get me started on trick questions). I could go on and on about this, but in any case, it does make me wonder if we’re prepared for figuring out ourselves after college- looks like a no at this point, although I guess with time, we’ll get there eventually.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Paul says:

        I think if there’s any positive from this, it’s that everyone is in the same boat, though social media makes it looks otherwise.
        I loved tests where the answers were open ended. Unfortunately I ran into too many tests where the questions were like, “List the 5 factors of ____.” Or, “List the 8 steps for ___.” And if you don’t know them, you don’t know them and there goes 8 marks.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Quinn says:

    *hug*

    It’s not all bad! It just so happens that right at this moment everything is looking a little grim, but there are great people and the phoniness is contained, I think. Or at least, I like to think…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. darthtimon says:

    Very nice post. It’s reminded me of the dreams I keep having about being back at school, and like you, I’ve questioned some of the value of the time spent in the education system. So much of it seemed devoted to teaching me a whole bunch of stuff I didn’t actually need – ‘Work out 3(a) – (4+5)x(4+5) = ? I don’t think I’ve ever used algebra outside a classroom, and I never wish to – it’s the same with most of the science stuff I learned too.

    School doesn’t prepare people properly for the real world – you’re spot on there. I wish it was different here in the UK, but it isn’t.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      Unfortunately I think it’s the same way everywhere. Though if we look past all the words and equations in textbooks, I think there were some good life lessons to be learned in school. Like how to communicate with people and work with those who you have nothing in common with. It’s just too bad there wasn’t anything more, like how to do taxes or fill out confusing government forms, or laundry haha

      Like

  5. -Eugenia says:

    This is an outstanding post. Every thought you penned makes sense. That’s hard to find anymore! Common sense is becoming a lost art.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ann Coleman says:

    I am, unfortunately, a whole lot older than you, and yet I related to every single word you wrote! Not sure what that says about me, but at least it’s good to realize that I’m not the only one who’s wondering what happened.
    I’ve long suspected that the real reason for preschool and elementary school was childcare. (I used to be a sub, and when I looked at the day’s schedule, it was obvious that out of a seven hour school day, only two or three hours were devoted to any real learning.) Our whole educational system is out-dated, all the way through those expensive universities that leave people crippled with debt and often without a job.
    As for celebrities, politicians, advertising, etc….. Couldn’t agree more!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Paul says:

      I’m glad you brought up the cost of university, I meant to mention that but got carried away. It’s ridiculous. Going to school for something that you might not even pursue, giving up thousands of dollars, and not earnng that money back for years and years. I think you might be on to something about school being essentially childcare. I’m surprised schools don’t run 9-5. Give the kids another recess until their parents are off work.
      Thanks for commenting, Ann!

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Governments (particularly the U.S.) have really become all about money (duh) and how much its politicians can get for themselves—usually at the expense of the people they claim to represent. Okay, it’s always been that way, but in recent decades it’s gotten progressively worse. Now anyone who is rich and part of big business (that includes you, universities)—is all out for their slice of the pie. Education no longer is about education, it’s all about money—BIG MONEY! Is it any wonder then that teaching someone how to learn about a subject (in particularly money and how to earn more of it), or how to reason and think for themselves no longer is in the best interest of the state or its people? Because then folks might actually become enlightened. The almighty currency (be it American, Europeon, or Monopoly funny money) is all that matters now. Money corruption rules the land. An education in how to steal, manipulate, and otherwise cheat folks out of what little financial security they do have, trumps all. It leaves folks not only feeling empty but with empty bank accounts as well—leaving the public to question life itself. What’s it all about? MONEY, MONEY MONEY! Pretty empty feeling, huh? Still, those who have it want even more, and those who don’t, scramble (and that means usually working morning, noon, and night) for the little spare change they can find under their sofa cushions—leaving them and their families little time to learn about much else other than how to survive on less. I think I just gave myself a depression—financially and emotionally! No wonder I can’t wait for the weekends! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      I’ve read this comment multiple times and am more in awe of it after each read through. You’re just right about everything, Paul, what can I say?

      Like

  8. Barb Knowles says:

    I’m almost hesitant to reply to this because, I guess, I’m a teacher. And yes, I decided to become a teacher (not counting 2nd grade when I was obsessed with being a nun) and study and teach languages because I found out in school that was what interested me and what I was good at.
    Now I co-teach Earth Science as the English as a New Language teacher, partenering with the Earth Science teacher. I didn’t adore science as a teenager. I don’t even remember Earth Science class, although as we go unit by unit I remember a lot.
    One day, a student asked us why Earth Science mattered. Why did they have to spend their time learning it (not counting that it is a graduation requirement)? What impact did it have on their lives after high school? And that started an avalanche of agreement from the other kids.
    It floored me. Knowledge and critical thinking are important in and of themselves. I don’t want students I teach to graduate and sit in front of “reality” tv shows the rest of their lives.

    I had no desire to be a scientist, although I’ve been fascinated by science since adulthood. But when my husband and I went to New Hampshire and went to the top of Mt. Washington, I looked down and there was a rock that didn’t belong there. I said to my husband “Hey this shouldn’t be here. Someone brought it here and dropped it.” Our trip was a little more wonderful because instead of just thinking “cool rock,” I was glad I made that connection and then thought for a moment about glaciers and mountain formations. It was fleeting, but that extra bit of education made the trip more interesting and makes my life, well, livelier.

    Using your brains, making connections, critical thinking, and extended experiences enrich lives and is the most important part of education to me. Plus it sounds a lot better than “Because I said so.”

    Sorry for turning this into Paul;s blog with an inordinately long comment from Barb.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Paul says:

      Oh man where to start haha.
      I promise this post wasn’t supposed to be about school. That part of the post just went on longer than I hoped and it seems to be what everyone dwelled on.
      I know now that knowledge and critical thinking is important, but in the shoes of a 10 year old…we come in from recess, have snack, and then are told to open our books to a certain page and start reading. Or look at the powerpoint slides and write them down. There is no lead up like “today we are going to learn ___ because.” It’s all out of the blue and random. And then after 5 minutes we start looking at the clock. When I was a kid in school I never really had the mindset of, “I’m here to learn something I didn’t know.” Not sure why that was.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Barb Knowles says:

        Can I reply with a really long reply here? Every day we “have to” tell the kids what they will know by the end of the class (theoretically). It never occurred to me to ask any of those questions. I’ve always loved to learn. Except trigonometry. From now on I’ll tell you every new thing I learn. But I’m watching SpongeBob now so I don’t think I’m learning too much right now, lol.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Paul says:

        Lol well it looks like you’re a great teacher then. I remember doing a project in Grade 2 on percussion instruments and having to put information and pictures on a bristle board. My mom did the whole thing.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Barb Knowles says:

        I remember my oldest daughter having her first science fair. From among the possibilities she chose nutrition and I made her do it all herself, while helping her find the info. She glued wrappers with nutrition info all of the poster board, wrote the info down etc. Everyone else’s parents did theirs. The “planets” kid’s father was an engineer with IBM. The father, I mean the kid, won 1st place. My daughter cried all night. But I think she learned 1) about nutrition and 2) science fairs are mean.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Paul says:

        We never had science fairs haha. I helped my mom with the project in the sense that I knew the information and pictures she/we were using but I wasn’t the one photocopying the info. Don’t hold it against me!
        That father must’ve be so proud of himself.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Barb Knowles says:

        Haha I didn’t mean to insult you or your mom. Just meant that’s a stupid part know of school. And your comment about the father was hysterical.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Barb Knowles says:

    This post was obviously thought-provoking, btw. Good one.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Myka says:

    “Because at that age, it just felt like a speed bump in front of lunch.” hahaha. That’s a really great description of any class right before lunch-time. I approve.
    “Maybe the world is a minefield without a map.” – whoa.
    I will say it again, reading your words makes me feel like we’re having a conversation, even though I don’t get to reply right away. I can feel you pausing, as if to let me. I just think all of my responses. Or catch myself nodding at the computer “yeah, Paul, I get it. you’re right!”
    While I’m thinking about where my husband is, and if I’ll ever have a baby – you’re thinking about such deeper things. If & where the school system failed us, why we idolize people who are only idols because of us “lesser” beings, how much wood would a wood chuck chuck if a wood chuck could chuck wood….
    I wish I had some insight for you, and me, but I don’t. I just have agreements, and nods.
    .xo.

    Like

  11. My job is a performance analyst. For fun, or because I’m crazy, I ran a performance analysis of a friend’s school. She gave me all the data I needed and the Internet provided me with comparables. Really, the education system is stuck in the Industrial Era. We swapped out the coach and buggy for Toyotas and Ferraris, but education is still essentially stuck back in the one-room schoolhouse of Little House on the Prairie.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      So true. And the introduction of technology like smart boards and iPads seems like the education system’s way of saying, “Hey look, we’re up to date. Technology!” When really, kids will learn how to use technology outside of school regardless. It’s just a strange system built on good intentions.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. live3one says:

    “Maybe the world is not an oyster. Maybe the world is a minefield without a map.” You’re right, that IS deep

    Liked by 1 person

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