25 02 2008

I took a little break from blogging this weekend, but I am back and in full force. I want to talk right now about education. And as a person who spent her life in public schools, I believe I have every right to lodge a few complaints. I spent some time last night working with my younger sister on a paper she has been asked to write for an advanced placement class. I will not pretend that I am a fantastic writer. But I did manage to survive high school, college, and am now well on my way to earning a masters degree. I think I can safely say that I know a little. And every piece of knowledge that I possess about writing well and the writing process was useless while trying to help my sister. What ever it is that he has taught her, it is incorrect. I’m not saying that this is a different opinion, or a different writing style, but instead that it is just plain wrong. It is as if he is saying that 2+2=7. And apparently he will be the first to admit it. He (my sister’s 10th grade history teacher) claims that his wife, who teaches 11th grade english, has to re-teach them the proper way to write. I do not blame her teacher. After all, he is teaching specifically to a test that students across the country take, the Advanced Placement test. My complaint is with the makers of this test. Document-based questions. Essays that are written based on an idea formed by looking at a series of documents. It is a good idea in theory, for research papers and the like. But I have never, ever written a paper in the format that is taught and considered acceptable for the AP test. Isn’t the point of the advanced placement test to award college credit for college-style work? This is not college-style work. Short, simple sentences without variety in structure or thought. I repeat, this is not college-level work. What it is, is a repression of individuality. There are only so many ways that a document can be interpreted in one short sentence. English and history were always my favorite subjects in school. I have a thing for words, and in my opinion, the bigger, the better. I’ve since been taught that while big words work in some instances, in others, they are useless. These papers that they are being taught to write in order to pass their AP tests and earn college credit are devoid of imagery, descriptors, metaphors, similes, and hyperboles, the marks of good writing. WHY?? Why are students taught to hide their intelligence and creativity in order to pass an advanced placement test? I am not a teacher, but I am a student. I understand the K-I-S-S principle. Keep it simple, stupid. The oxy-moronic version of our education teaches us first to advance our vocabulary and continually challenges us to learn words that never appear in ordinary conversation, and then when we finally come across the opportunity to use the word loquacious (talkative) or acalculia (an inability to perform arithmatic functions), we’re told to keep it simple.
Yeah. Keep it simple. It is stupid.




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