"Wherefore We must interrupt a silence which it would be criminal to prolong, that We may point out...as they really are, men who are badly disguised." Pope St. Pius X, September 8, 1907, Pascendi Dominici Gregis

Friday, February 11, 2011

“It’s not F-ing Funny,” The Pathetic State of an American School

I’ve had a number of run-ins with H.M. King high school, enough to fill a few other posts. It angers me to no end how easily and eagerly public schools trip up and come down on their own students. There was no one of age or authority who cared to speak up for me when I was the victim not so long ago. That will not be the case for this generation of H.M. King H.S. students.

I stumbled upon this document during a recent walk around the school.

There are so many criticisms here; it is difficult to know where to begin. We are told that high schools are meant to prepare us for the mental rigors and experience of college. While my criticisms of the contemporary college experience are also many, one realm where I have no qualms with it is personal freedom.  If you want to wear sweatpants and listen to Lady-Gaga via headphones while you doze in class, there really is no problem. And the few professors who do have a problem with this will be polite and cognizant of your human dignity enough to communicate to you that they believe there is enough of value to learn from today’s lecture to justify your paying attention. Not so at H. M. King. Choose to set your head down, we will immediately assume you are sleeping, reply sarcastically when you claim you are not, make fun of you for stuttering, and send you to two days of detention.

Now I am familiar enough with H.M. King to know that sleeping is probably the most effective use of this student’s class time. But regardless, how does it follow that the proper punishment for not paying attention in class is to remove you entirely for two days from the chance to pay attention in class?

A creative institution that truly cared about the intellectual achievements of its students would consider this entire situation a travesty instead of standard policy. Not only did the teacher fail to captivate the student’s attention and imagination - which reflects poorly on the teacher - but any number of learning opportunities were passed up as well. If falling asleep in class is really an offense worthy of punishment and the student objects to the charge, why not have a jury of his peers decide? Instead of the summary judgment of an administration official, why not use this as an opportunity to teach the class a civics lesson?

Only in a truly tyrannical system could “leaving without permission” be considered an offense. Is this a school or a prison? If the teacher fails to keep the student’s attention, or the student truly feels he has something better to do, he has not only the right but the obligation to leave. Why can’t teachers be held accountable by their own students?

Even if the student actually used the so called ‘F’ word, why isn’t his speech protected by the first amendment or just plain common sense? I’ve never understood the concept of profanity anyway. Since when is fucking a profane act? Since when is saying ‘fuck’ impolite? I thought religiously it is so sacred it can only be engaged in after the sacrament of marriage. Who gets to decide what is and is not profane? Again, this entire experience is about an effort to make the student feel like they’ve done something wrong, guilt trip them, and accustom them to a culture of submission so that the teacher and administrator can get a power trip, not enable the student to make the most of himself intellectually.

Sadly, American public schools, like H. M. King, are not interested in the intellectual advancement of their students. The staff of these horrid institutions is interested in cushy jobs with plush benefits and having a captive audience to push around. This is pathetic, and in one of the rare statements of genius to originate at H.M. King, it really is not f-ing funny.

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