In two hours, I will be taking my last final of my first semester back at school. Overall, I would say my return to higher education has been a good one, but that’s been a troublesome conclusion upon which to arrive.
For starters, I’m doing little more than purchasing a transcript to take to another college. The amount of new knowledge I assimilated this semester is low. Here it is:
1. I can define Dissociative Fugue, a mental disorder.
2. I can compute continuous, compound, and simple interest.
3. I am more comfortable using a colon in prose.
And that sums it up. I don’t want to bog down this post with a point-by-point illustration of the poor education standards in American schools, but I should list off a few things that struck me.
My English class was actually a Civil Rights/History class with punctuation elements. The instructor had assigned reading every week, most of which was famous prose or at least something with literary merit. Most of the famous stuff had something to do with slavery or Native Americans–but we never analyzed the texts! I love history and civil rights issues get me fired up, but when I take an English class, is it too much to ask that we discuss English?
The most disappointing part would be my last essay. We were assigned a 750 word essay that had to have two peer-reviewed journals in our works cited page. Now, I’m the type of person that thinks 500 words belong in the topic paragraph, so I had trouble fitting the guidelines. We were supposed to explain a personal problem and offer three solutions. I had many more than three possible solutions to the listed problem, but I trimmed it to four and instead of having a five paragraph essay I had six. I went a bit above what was called for, but not so far out that it would be outside the scope of the assignment. I got an A-.
And that’s not the problem. The problem was: I received no feedback. Nothing. I don’t know why he took two points off of my works cited page or three off of my “ideas are fully developed” portion of his grading rubric. I’m a writer–I need to know these things for the future.
My psychology teacher only actually taught us three or four times all semester. The rest of the classes were either, “study on your own” days or, “Watch this twenty minute video” days. And when he did teach, he taught a lot of misinformation. He simplified the idea of behavior modification to the point of being insufficient (it’s not just about instituting a specific reward system. It’s much larger than that.) and on our last day, he made some off-the-wall racist remarks. He also referred to a transvestite as, “one of those… people.” I’m still debating whether or not I should report that to the dean. The psychology instructor is tenured and approaching retirement. I don’t think anything would happen with it.
My human sexuality class began as my favorite class. I was easily the teacher’s pet until the final stretch, but when I started calling her out on her bullshit I think she started thinking less of me. See, when your student voices an opinion and you respond with, “Well, I see what you’re saying, but you gotta remember…” or, “Okay, I’ll give you that, but–” you should know that it is not an endearing remark. It sounds dismissive. This is a class where people have a really hard time opening up and talking about their concerns, yet the atmosphere should foster such open discussions. When someone talks about their sexual jealousy or lack-thereof, dismissing them does nothing more than remove the collection of ideas we were hoping to share. And it was a really dick move to gloss over an anonymous call for help regarding erectile dysfunction.
And finally, College Algebra. I like math, and I’m glad I took the class. My only complaint is that the textbook is… well, I’ll just give an example. One day I wanted to review, “Factoring Polynomials” because I’m very bad at it. So I flip open the table of contents. Ah! Polynomials… Factoring – Page 23. I slid a few pages over to get out of the Roman Numeral pre-pages and find myself at…
62. Pages one through sixty-one do not exist in this textbook.
Other than that, I have such a high A in the class that I would have to get a negative 35 on the final to get a B as my overall grade. I find the lack of pressure to ace this test quite pleasing. Then I can sell this shit book for five bucks and go to Taco Bell.