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The Best Class Ever + a sociopolitical rant

thett3
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8/17/2015 5:10:47 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
It was the spring of my Sophomore year in high school, about the time I joined DDO as a matter of fact, when I was placed in The Best Class Ever. I can't remember the exact name, it was outdoor education or something similar. It wasn't a class I had chosen to take--at my school there was a foundational PE course everyone had to take that was typically done the first semester and another course that varied the next semester like sports or something. Anyway, when I received my schedule for the next semester before Christmas break (yeah, Christmas break not Winter break. Tough sh!t to all you atheists) I looked down at the paper and to my surprise I was listed in a class I knew nothing about and had never heard of. I actually didn't even know where in the school it was--it was in a really out of the way and isolated part of the building. Symbolic of how the administration had seemingly forgotten about it entirely.

Obviously the administration didn't actually forget about the class, but they *certainly* turned a blind eye to it. To call is a "class" would be overly generous. There were about 15 or so of us, all guys and one girl, and people scattered throughout every grade, and it was taught by a coach who was a really cool guy and just gave off that chill vibe. He was the perfect "teacher" for this class. The other kids in the class were all the "regular" kids--like some public schools mine had that awful dichotomy where the school administration cares entirely about the top ~25% of the class and largely ignores everybody else. Obviously smarter kids need and deserve special attention but the difference in the kind of education you received was just completely astounding and I know my limited writing skills simply can't do it justice. All of the high quality teachers were teaching the top students and the school turned a complete blind eye to everything that happened in the regular classes. It wasn't quite "Stand and Deliver" horrible, but from everything I heard and saw it certainly wasn't the kind of education I'd want my children to get and sadly there was no Mr. Escalante to bail them out. On the other hand, my education was just fantastic. Unless you were in a sport where there was a lot of mingling, if you were an AP kid everyone else may as well have been from a different school that happened to share hallways and lunchrooms with yours. In everything but name you WERE in different schools--I didn't recognize a single person in the class when I first arrived and even at graduation, at least half of the names and faces I had never heard nor seen.

But anyway, the class...the majority of our time was spent outdoors where we wandered around the school grounds and found something to do. There were these GIANT tires on a hill and everyone who was small enough to fit in them did so and was pushed down the hill. We even had races, it was a ton of fun and there was no greater feeling of schadenfreude than watching the exhausted cross country kids running their miles through the strangely clear view inside a rapidly spinning tire. Lots of death glares in our direction and I can't blame them. It was hilarious. There's also no way it was allowed but the school just didn't care. We were regular kids.

Speaking of the cross country kids, we would also have "cook out" days where we would all bring meat and cook it on these grills the school had for some reason. The smell of the cooking meat wafted over to the track where they were running and I later I learned how the scent of our meat made them all feel sick. They hated us so much. You could literally see the rage slowly build on their faces as the period dragged on and many middle fingers were raised and returned.

There were "assignments" but they were absurdly easy and quick formalities to justify to anyone auditing the class that "classwork" actually occurred. Like I said there weren't many of us in the class but there were always more people than that because whenever anyone who knew about the class could manage to skive off their class they would come join us and the coach couldn't have cared any less. At the time I had no idea how these kids managed to get off their classes without getting in trouble but in hindsight some of their teachers must just have NOT cared. The next year spring semester I was in a regular elective class for another really weird reason I can't remember and I would almost always get excused whenever I wished to go the library to "study" with a certain girl, even if we were ostensibly doing something in that class. Like that wasn't obvious, but no one cared. Least of all the teacher.

If we weren't outside we were watching this godawful reality series about suburbanites getting destroyed by the Alaskan wilderness. I remember once the coach was sick and we had a sub for a week. She was this Indian lady who clearly took academic integrity very seriously and highly disapproved of spending an entire ninety minutes watching movies--she asked about five times what we did all day, in stunned disbelief, before finally just settling in and watching with us as idiotic and spoiled teenage girls ate half of their teams supplies in a day.

It was without a doubt The Best Class Ever, and I still can't think about it without cracking up... but looking back there's also something about it beneath the surface that is deeply concerning. My experiences with that class were so different from everything else that happened at that school that if I didn't have a video of myself rolling down a hill in a tire to thunderous applause I would think I was making the whole thing up. Far be it from me to complain about a class where we played outside and grilled, but there's something fundamentally wrong in the fact that the school cared so little about what these kids got up to that a class like this was allowed to exist in the state it did. More importantly, how often does a thing like this happen? There are so many problems with the school system. I'm no idealistic egalitarian, I spent a lot of time around these guys and I realize that for most of them it's pretty unlikely that if they were given a chance they would've risen to the lofty heights of academic success. But some would have. And even more would've found a trade or an apprenticeship had we not forced them into a system of twelve years of worthless schooling that we don't even attempt to give them anymore.

And it's not like we can take money away from gifted education to give everyone a fair shake. Gifted education, like education in general, is desperately underfunded and we need our top kids to have the tools to compete. But something needs to be done. I don't have any solutions, but at least sometimes these unfortunate circumstances lend themselves to hilarious stories like The Best Class Ever.
DDO Vice President

#StandwithBossy

#UnbanTheMadman

#BetOnThett

"Don't quote me, ever." -Max

"My name is max. I'm not a big fan of slacks"- Max rapping

"Walmart should have the opportunity to bribe a politician to it's agenda" -Max

"Thett, you're really good at convincing people you're a decent person"-tulle

"You fit the character of Regina George quite nicely"- Sam

: At 11/12/2016 11:49:40 PM, Raisor wrote:
: thett was right
Diqiucun_Cunmin
Posts: 2,710
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8/17/2015 11:30:00 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
American education is weird. In Asia, we just use the same curriculum on everybody, lol.
The thing is, I hate relativism. I hate relativism more than I hate everything else, excepting, maybe, fibreglass powerboats... What it overlooks, to put it briefly and crudely, is the fixed structure of human nature. - Jerry Fodor

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The-Voice-of-Truth
Posts: 6,574
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8/17/2015 3:37:42 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 8/17/2015 11:30:00 AM, Diqiucun_Cunmin wrote:
American education is weird. In Asia, we just use the same curriculum on everybody, lol.

It is slowly turning that way here, and I hate it. Surprisingly, there are people advocating for it (Diesen Kommunisten!....... Diesen Sozialisten!).
"You're more of a fluentic fail doer who sometimes does a doo dah with a diggity ding, managing to push open doors that weren't meant to be opened, only to find that there's no floor, so you instead become spiderman and crawl on the walls." -Vaarka

I'm Rick Harrison and this is my pawn shop. I work here with my old man and my son, Big Hoss, and in 23 years I've learned one thing. You never know what is gonna come through that door
thett3
Posts: 14,381
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8/17/2015 4:06:10 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 8/17/2015 3:37:42 PM, The-Voice-of-Truth wrote:
At 8/17/2015 11:30:00 AM, Diqiucun_Cunmin wrote:
American education is weird. In Asia, we just use the same curriculum on everybody, lol.

It is slowly turning that way here, and I hate it. Surprisingly, there are people advocating for it (Diesen Kommunisten!....... Diesen Sozialisten!).

There's just a really screwed up incentive structure. Since employers using IQ tests to make employment decisions is banned by imperial...err I mean supreme..decree, they rely on proxies like a college degree. The truth is that the *vast* majority of jobs do not require a college decree and those four years for most people are generally an incredibly expensive booze fueled party. Someone who worked at an accounting firm for four years after high school would be far more valuable than someone who spent four years earning an accounting degree.

High schoolers have the incentive to do as well as they can and pad their resumes with useless clubs and activities they don't actually care about so that they can go to the best college they can afford. This signals to employers that they're smart and that way the interviewer can justify hiring them if they turn out to be a bad employee. People who don't have the financial or intellectual means to graduate college are basically screwed--there are lots of jobs that require just a bachelors degree in any major. Newsflash: if your job can be done by someone with a degree in anything, it doesn't require a degree. Companies know this but it's a proxy for an IQ test.

I've yet to meet anyone in college as intelligent as my father is, but there's no way he would be able to have a middle class income if he was my age because he chose to join the Navy instead of going to college and learned his trade (flight simulation) there. College is genuinely a waste of time for most people--my father was working on complicated machinery after a 6 month intensive course of how to do it and then spent the rest of his four years actually doing work. If his career was offered as a college degree there's no way that would be the case.

High schools should focus on teaching people *useful* skills that are likely to be relevant to their life. More wood shop, less English. Many of those young people who didn't go to college and now are struggling in dead-end jobs are probably enormously skilled in some craft or trade (many of which have positions and no one to fill them) but our stupid system never allows them to find this out.
DDO Vice President

#StandwithBossy

#UnbanTheMadman

#BetOnThett

"Don't quote me, ever." -Max

"My name is max. I'm not a big fan of slacks"- Max rapping

"Walmart should have the opportunity to bribe a politician to it's agenda" -Max

"Thett, you're really good at convincing people you're a decent person"-tulle

"You fit the character of Regina George quite nicely"- Sam

: At 11/12/2016 11:49:40 PM, Raisor wrote:
: thett was right
OberHerr
Posts: 13,062
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8/17/2015 4:21:42 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
Colleges were never meant to be what they are today.

It used to be if you wanted to work in a specialized field which required specialized classes, like being a doctor, a pastor, or even being an officer in the military, you'd go to a university or college which provided said services.

Then after WWII the GI Bill was released, which let A LOT of people go to college for free or close to. And it wasn't even that bad in price back then, but the idea of a free education for the poorest of the poor even, in the booming economy of the postwar US was a great opportunity for a lot of people.

And it was alright for a little while. The Baby Boomer generation was raised by parents who had access to a lot of money, and a lot of whom had gone to college. So the Baby Boomers went to college, and they could pay their way through with a job because it was cheap.

But colleges were never meant for that. They weren't really suppose to be businesses. But they ended up becoming them, and they gradually got more expensive as time went on, and now here we are today.

And now we have high schools as the "pre-college" schools that actively encourage people to waste money on degrees that they, most of the time, won't need or won't ever actually use.

Its changing now for the better, but with all the debt that has been stacked up, its not wonder that people go into the military just for the college.
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The-Voice-of-Truth
Posts: 6,574
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8/17/2015 4:40:39 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 8/17/2015 4:06:10 PM, thett3 wrote:
At 8/17/2015 3:37:42 PM, The-Voice-of-Truth wrote:
At 8/17/2015 11:30:00 AM, Diqiucun_Cunmin wrote:
American education is weird. In Asia, we just use the same curriculum on everybody, lol.

It is slowly turning that way here, and I hate it. Surprisingly, there are people advocating for it (Diesen Kommunisten!....... Diesen Sozialisten!).

There's just a really screwed up incentive structure. Since employers using IQ tests to make employment decisions is banned by imperial...err I mean supreme..decree, they rely on proxies like a college degree. The truth is that the *vast* majority of jobs do not require a college decree and those four years for most people are generally an incredibly expensive booze fueled party. Someone who worked at an accounting firm for four years after high school would be far more valuable than someone who spent four years earning an accounting degree.

Yup.


High schoolers have the incentive to do as well as they can and pad their resumes with useless clubs and activities they don't actually care about so that they can go to the best college they can afford. This signals to employers that they're smart and that way the interviewer can justify hiring them if they turn out to be a bad employee. People who don't have the financial or intellectual means to graduate college are basically screwed--there are lots of jobs that require just a bachelors degree in any major. Newsflash: if your job can be done by someone with a degree in anything, it doesn't require a degree. Companies know this but it's a proxy for an IQ test.

Yup. I know the feel about those clubs.


I've yet to meet anyone in college as intelligent as my father is, but there's no way he would be able to have a middle class income if he was my age because he chose to join the Navy instead of going to college and learned his trade (flight simulation) there. College is genuinely a waste of time for most people--my father was working on complicated machinery after a 6 month intensive course of how to do it and then spent the rest of his four years actually doing work. If his career was offered as a college degree there's no way that would be the case.

That's neat. I've thought about being a Naval Pilot after college, waiting 20 years, and then applying my degree.


High schools should focus on teaching people *useful* skills that are likely to be relevant to their life. More wood shop, less English. Many of those young people who didn't go to college and now are struggling in dead-end jobs are probably enormously skilled in some craft or trade (many of which have positions and no one to fill them) but our stupid system never allows them to find this out.

Like Germany.
"You're more of a fluentic fail doer who sometimes does a doo dah with a diggity ding, managing to push open doors that weren't meant to be opened, only to find that there's no floor, so you instead become spiderman and crawl on the walls." -Vaarka

I'm Rick Harrison and this is my pawn shop. I work here with my old man and my son, Big Hoss, and in 23 years I've learned one thing. You never know what is gonna come through that door