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.


You can’t fish while on horseback, but you can carry a gun to class?

21 02 2008

One of the strange laws of the state of Utah is that it is against the law to fish from horseback. Even stranger? You can carry a concealed gun on any college campus (public colleges). Sure can. College kids can get up, strap on the .22, pull on jeans and go to class. Until late 2006, University of Utah had a ban that prohibited firearms from campus, but it was struck down by the state legislature. The school, along with the other public universities in the state is fighting with the legislature to reinstate the ban. In light of the massacre at Virginia Tech and the more recent one at Northern Illinois University, some college students claim they feel that they can better protect themselves by carrying a concealed weapon. I suppose if there had been someone with a gun when Seung-Hui Cho (Virginia Tech) started shooting, that might have ended sooner and spared some lives. But we have no way of knowing that. Private schools in Utah such as Brigham Young University in Provo have the power to ban firearms.
I went to a state university (THE STATE’S UNIVERSITY), although I was out of school before the Virginia Tech shooting happened, but I am not sure I would feel comfortable knowing that some of my fellow students had concealed weapons on them. If I was on a college campus with a firearms ban and I saw the outline of a gun that was being concealed under someone’s shirt, or in someone’s pants, then I would know there was a problem. If there was no such ban, how would anyone know? Granted, concealed weapons are just that, concealed. Does it increase accidental gun deaths? I mean, think about how many college kids are getting drunk every night? And then they have easier access to a gun because they are either carrying one, or one of their drunk friends is carrying one? That’s a frightening thought. Maybe they aren’t as worried in Utah, as they have some pretty interesting liquor laws. To read more on this subject, read this article posted on CNNU.