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Posts Tagged ‘school’

Is School Killing Creativity?

January 6, 2010 2 comments

I’ll be honest with you all, I didn’t come to ask this question on my own. There is this amazing video of a TED presentation made by Ken Robinson about how he believes the school system as we know it is killing creativity in young people. [see end of post]

Now I don’t think of myself as a psychologist or sociologist by any means. Instead, this article is mostly centered around the perspective of a student, currently enrolled in the public school system. Also, I was in a private school from the grades 7-10, and have that perspective as well.

Lets look at the goal of the school system. The purpose surrounding it all is to educate the youth of America for as many career opportunities as they can, in the shortest time possible. In theory, this is a very worthy goal. After all, many people, either due to family situations or personal preference, choose not to go to school, and need to have all their education in grades 1-12. But here is where we start to have an issue: instead of giving the youth as wide of horizons as possible, the schools are focusing more and more on 3 main subjects. Math, English and Science.

If we were all Vulcans this would be just fine. But we’re not, we are human beings and as such we need things like music and art to have a deep culture with ties to the past. Look at the french, as far as they have gone to contribute in the fields of science and literature, they are most proud of their artistic expression and heritage. As one of the most, if not THE most, powerful nations on the planet, we are striving to make our children have a leg-up on the international competition, but at what cost?

In reality (as Ken points out) we are a society that is making the college professor (PhD of course) the ideal intellectual goal. Unfortunately it’s not just us, almost all countries are doing this! With international travel and cooperation at an all time high, it is getting easier and easier for our Asian cousins to take the high paying jobs that we would otherwise have had. With that in mind, what’s the problem? Why the heck shouldn’t we do anything and everything to stay at the leading edge in the race for intellectual superiority?

I’ll tell you why: because it’s killing us. Millions upon millions of people around the world are going to a workplace every day that they hate, to a job that pays too little, to be berated by a boss that thinks he’s god. As a result, happiness in the workplace is so low that there are psychiatrists who make their whole living off working specifically with white collar businessmen who have trouble dealing with the stress. This is ridiculous.

To get back to the point, what I am saying is the same as Ken: put more emphasis on the arts. Ensure that art classes have the same funding potential as any other, because what use is having all the knowledge in the world, if the only people around to share it with are mindless slaves to their “intelligence”.

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Cameras In Classrooms: The Pros And Cons

November 27, 2009 10 comments

Having just recently started attending public school, I have found the topic of cameras interesting. Something I have noticed is that no one seems to care. People go about their day oblivious to the round, black semi-spheres that watch their every move as they go about their business. It seems to no one that this is a problem. Let me give you two opinions on the subject.

Yes, we are watching.

Pros:

Being what they are, and what their purpose is, it isn’t too hard to make an argument for cameras in school.  Currently, they are only in the hallways and this allows for privacy in the classroom. If someone were to be hurt in the hallways, and accusations were flung, it is simple to see what happened and why.

I am sure there are many instances when a person is accused of doing some wrong and not being able to defend themselves. No doubt those people would have loved having irrefutable evidence of their innocence, I know I would have appreciated it in varying situations with my past.

And lets not forget another important way it could be important for student arguments: evil teachers. If you have ever had any serious problems in school with authority, you can agree that administrators almost always take the side of the teacher in a he-said, she-said predicament. Let me give you an example; your a student in a classroom and your breath is terrible, and a girl you really like is about to sit down next to you. Being the stud you want to portray, you take a piece of gum and are about to begin chewing, when you remember you aren’t allowed to chew gum in that room. You put it away and simply go about the class period.

Detention!

Now, at the end of class you are about to leave but the teacher asks you to stay after class for a minute. They tell you they saw you chewing gum and issue you a detention. You object, explaining the situation. They don’t believe you and proceed to take you to the principals office because your being disrespectful. There, the principal automatically takes the side of the teacher just because shes in charge.

THIS ACTUALLY HAPPENED TO ME. And I know I would have wanted a video to prove me right and the evil mistaken teacher wrong. So what could be bad about having cameras in the classroom?

Cons:

The slippery slope is whats wrong. The intrinsic problem with giving power to people is that it will eventually be abused. Some argue that our school system is not as easily corruptible as, say, the government. However, this has been shown to be false, as seen in Safford United School District No. 1 v. Redding. In this case, a 13 year old was strip searched at school, without any kind of parental contact,  under the belief that she had ibuprofen. She didn’t. The fact remains that any system needs checks and balances to its authority, or else people and powers are abused.

So, what could be done with cameras? Think about that for a second. At this moment, many public schools already have cameras in the hallway without problems, seeing everything. If they are in the classrooms then there really is no privacy anywhere (except maybe the restrooms). What will happen then is up to your imagination. Conversations between students could no longer be private, any small indiscretion and slip of the tongue will be remembered always, and if anything is said that does not meet the standards of the establishment…well, just read 1984 by Orwell to get a picture of what I mean.

Conclusion:

In a perfect world, you could trust the government and their representatives (school) to carry out the law equally and fairly. However, since this not a perfect world, we cannot. The fact is we need to not allow ourselves to give up every right we have, in the case being privacy. So much of our lives are monitored and watched, that I can’t help but feel we shouldn’t force upon the students of America any more pressure than we already are.

Because, really, how much more as students can we deal with?

-Trenton Stahl

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Cascade: To Love or Loathe?

March 31, 2009 3 comments

Until recently I was attending a high school by the name of Cascade Christian. As I would not have been able to voice my opinions at the time, I now am taking the liberty of airing my thoughts on the subject. Keep in mind, this is not meant to be an attack on the school but rather a range of experiences condensed into a single article.

Before I begin there are some things I want to make clear. This is a Christian school, but this article in no way represents how I feel about Christianity. I am a devout Baptist Christian, and enjoy the fact that God is very much represented at Cascade.

When I arrived at Cascade in 7th grade, the first impression I got was how small it was. Even though I had gone to a small elementary school, I still could grasp just how miniscule it was compared to other High schools. Even a local middle school that only housed 7th and 8th graders had more room, more teachers, better facilities, and higher-grade technologies.

However, even with all these faults, I still liked Cascade and enjoyed going there because of the inviting, Christ-like attitude of everyone and the aptitude of the administration. This brings me to my next point, the principal. From 7th grade, all the way to 10th, my teacher was Mr. Broberg. He is one of the smartest, kindest, most understanding people I have ever met. He connected with us students in a way that most adults never could. Most everyone liked him as what he was, the guide of the school. And I say guide, because his way of leading the school was just that, leading. He didn’t try to force us to do anything, his very self was able to persuade us.

I point out Mr. Broberg’s excellent qualities so that you will have background on why I feel the way I do about the current principal: Mr. Washburn. Prior to leaving Cascade, there was always some looming reason I didn’t want to go to school in the morning, something I could never quite put a reason to. After having gone to a local public school, I now realize what that was, Washburn. He was always a bit a thorn in the side of everyone. To give you an example, I will tell you how the first day of 11th grade went. Mr. Washburn had us all come to a start-of-the-school year assembly as we always do. But instead of explaining to us how great the school year was going to be, and how God was alive in Cascade, and how we were going to grow, he told us how he was now in charge. Literally, on the first day he made it a point to tell everyone present that he was now the big Kahuna. He dominated the stage with not only a sense of ultimate authority, but also a threatening attitude.

Unfortunately it does not end there. Beginning soon after his inauguration speech, he started using chapel as his own personal soap box. At Cascade, every Thursday, we have an hour long session called Chapel where all the students (separated into two groups by high school and junior high) go to an assembly and listen to a speaker with his sermon for us, it is usually a very good experience. Starting this year, though, Washburn took it upon himself to get up in front of everyone after the speaker was done and give his two cents. As you might guess, this many times has a detrimental effect on the impact because of our dislike of Washburn’s need for attention. I’ll give you an example of one of the worse instances:

A speaker (for sake of not involving him in this article, I won’t mention his name) decided to talk about authority, and our responsibility to it as Christians. He showed bible verses where Jesus talked about how we are to submit ourselves to it. It was after the speaker finished that Washburn came up and made an illusion, explaining that our relationship to him was very nearly the same as a Christian’s position with God. He actually compared himself to God, yes. There are many more instances of Washburn displaying ineptitude and poor judgment, but for the sake of the length of this article, I will digress.

The vice principal, Mr. Peterson, is better, but only in that he doesn’t have the same ego that Washburn does. However, to give you a small example of what the student body thinks of him, one time he was up on stage as he many times is at lunch to give announcements. The students wanted him to stop talking so bad, that they continued to clap before he could begin, until he got so fed up with it that he got off. I can assure you, it was a moment of great triumph for the students.

Let me be clear though. However much I dislike Washburn and Peterson, I love the teachers. The experiences I have had, and the things I have learned I cannot even begin to fully tell you. They are nice, cooperative, friendly, helpful, exciting, joyful, interesting, Christ-like, electrifying, thrilling, accommodating, supportive, intelligent, valuable, and more admirable than I would have thought possible. If there is one good thing you can say about Cascade, it is that the teachers are the best.

I could go on, but I believe I have made my point. If you read all of this, I thank you, I know I can be a tad big winded. These are my opinions, if you have differing ones, please leave a comment. I would be happy to get back with you. Thanks to Lindsey for the idea of this article. It should be noted that opinions in this article are mine, and not necessarily those of others. Also, opinions of Mr. Peterson has improved since the event described.

-Trenton Stahl

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

School Kills Youth!

Have you ever considered how hurtful school has been on the youth of the world?

For centuries we have know that the best time to teach a person new skills and knowledge is when their young. This is because young kids’ brains are still being developed, and they absorb information more readily. With this in mind, it makes perfect sense to want to push studies on the youth of the world at this time. However, I would contend that doing such has had a horrible impact on how people develope.

When we are young, we want to have fun. Its almost as if we are biologically programmed to want to do nothing but fun at an early age. The point at which this reaches a head is about 5 years old. However, this is also the time people are put into kindergarten/first grade. During this time, little kids are told to behave and not act out. Further along, they have math, history, and language forced on them.

Where before people would spend hours after school playing a pick up game of baseball, we are now delving into the virtual world more than ever. I believe this is mostly due to the ever increasing amount of space thats growing between communities. With more advances, comes more distance between people. With more distance between people comes a further reliance upon the technology that is dividing us! But I digress.

To get back on topic, I believe that the school system needs to change. I think a good alternative idea would be to start school earlier, at about age 2. By two years of age, a child can do kindergarten tasks and learn (at least from what I have observed). This way, we will cut off about 3 years from when we normally get out. When a person is 18, they normally graduate high school, and proceed to college. Just think about what the country would be shaped like if the youth of America were working on their Master’s when they would normally just be leaving the 12th grade? I propose this idea, because it would allow the kids of America to experience more of their education when they can do it, and it would open up a larger work force. Also, it would probably bring about a more defined sense of maturity in teenagers.

I suppose something like this would have to be done on a country-wide scale, as otherwise there would be problems arising from people of different ages transfering to different schools and them not being among their same age. I could also think of a host of other problems associated with it, like the fact that people have a hard time getting a job before their 17, and if we put teens in higher grades, they wont be able to get a job until later. But like I said, this is only a work-in-progress idea. Take it how you will.

-Trenton Stahl

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

An Attack On Science Fiction

February 24, 2009 1 comment

A week ago I was contacted, via instant messaging, from a teacher of mine regarding how my summer vacation was going, lets call him Ted. We talked about what I had been doing with all my time, and I told him about taking it easy, watching some science fiction shows and such.

It was at this point that he pointed out how useless science fiction is, that it is a waste of time and no one should give it any attention. He asserted that things like star trek and aliens have no place in this world, especially when there are things like sports.

Now, unbeknownst to him, I had done an extensive paper on the value of science fiction, and what star trek has contributed to society. So when he said sci-fi was a waste, I just smiled.

“Oh, what?” He asked “You think it is worth all the hubbub people have given it? I can give you several reasons why sports are more worth the time of the world. They give you exercise, a sense of teamwork, and belonging. Science fiction cant give you those” At this point he leaned back in his chair, looking quite pleased with himself.

Trying to calm myself from the inner anger I was feeling, I took a deep breath and looked him in the eyes before proceeding. He had no idea what was about to happen, and I took more than a little pleasure from it.

“So,” I began “you think science fiction is a waste of time do you?”

“Indeed”

“So how do you explain the technological advances achieved because of the inspiration star trek gave people? How about Martin Cooper? Because of a star trek episode he created the first cell phone. Or how about how the modern hypodermic needle was inspired by star trek?”

“Eh…” (His canadian was showing)

“Oh, but that’s not all there is. You said people that play sports get a sense of teamwork. Ok, that may be true, but so do gamers who play science fiction games with each other. Those online ties are so powerful that many games have been branded as addicting.”

He was about to start talking again

“Oh no, Im not done yet!” I interrupted “You say that science fiction in all its ways are useless? How about the millions of jobs it has given people? Whether it be writers, directors, filmers, or actors, many of them have jobs only because of science fiction related media. And lets not forget the multi-billion dollar merchandise selling business.

“But lets not just talk about science fiction, lets address these sports you admire so much. According to a study done in 2007, over 45% of the beer consumed in the united states was due to sport related activities. Whether it be the super bowl, the Olympics, a local game, or just monday night football. Now consider how many people have gotten killed by being drunk, or by a drunk person, who was one of that 45%?

“But hey, I can talk about other things. Lets take a look at the drugs. Because of the massive pressure to perform, there has been an incalculable number of people taking performance enhancing drugs. This includes the professionals and amateurs.

“But lets get back to sci-fi. What of the above things can you attribute to science fiction? What is so bad about it that you make it out to be the devil? I want to know why it is you think is do damn bad about sci-fi!”

I have received no reply.

-Trenton Stahl

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.