Monday, May 21, 2007

Skewl Sux

I don’t remember my mom ever meeting any of my teachers in high school. I don’t think she ever went to a conference, ever asked if I had homework, I don’t think she even knew what classes I was in.

In her defense, she had two small children at home. I was a smart girl, I received mostly A’s in middle school and the beginning of ninth grade – why should she have been worried?

She should have worried because I was way too young to be my own cheerleader. I was way to naïve to understand that I should have cared about my education. My grandpa was the only person who ever pushed the importance of education on me – but by then it seemed to me that he had me mistaken for someone else. Someone with “potential.” In all actuality, there was no money for me to go to school. Everyone knew it, so nobody pushed the issue.

In the tenth grade, I came out of my shell a bit and started meeting new people. People who didn’t get A’s. People who didn’t even go to school much. In fact, my boyfriend had dropped out a couple years before. He would pick up my brother and me and we’d go get high before he dropped us off at school. Then I would head to first hour – Psychology – a class that I was really excited for when I’d signed up for it in 9th grade. And there, I would sleep off my high. It was no surprise when I failed that class. It wasn’t a surprise when I failed health, either. After all, it was during third hour – that was lunch hour. Who wants to learn about STD’s when you can hang out with your friends for 85 minutes?

My high school years got progressively worse. I was constantly in In-School-Suspension for skipping and for getting caught coming in from cigarette breaks. I was flunking out of classes that should have been easy for me.

And nobody ever said anything to me. Nobody said, “Amy, how did you go from all A’s to just ONE?? Why aren’t you passing these classes?” Had someone stepped in when it started getting bad, maybe I would have changed my ways. Maybe I would have quit using drugs. Maybe my life would have taken a different direction. Maybe.

Halfway through my senior year, I decided I’d had enough. I was living with my friend PM – working almost full time for $5.75/hr trying to pay my rent and car insurance. My dean was really great to me through it all. She let me call myself in sick – she expected me to make good decisions. After all, she was one of my 9th grade teachers – she knew I was smart and capable. When she told me that I would be a credit short of graduating, I decided to just quit.

PM convinced me that if we went to an alternative school, we’d only have to go three hours a day and we’d be able to work ahead to graduate on time. It seemed like a smart idea at the time.

When we told our dean, she never said a word to PM, she was pregnant and the deans tried to usher the pregnant girls out the door as soon as they could. She looked at ME and said, “Don’t do this, Amy. You don’t have to do this! There’s only half a year left – you can walk with your class and take a summer class, you can take night classes, and everything will be okay.”

But I did it anyway. Like fucking fools, we walked from class to class with our yellow discharge slips collecting our things. I’m so embarrassed when I look back at that now. How could I think I was ‘so cool’ because I was dropping out????

When we started at the alternative school a week later, I realized I had made a mistake. These kids were fuck-ups. And a lot of them were just plain stupid. Our homework was to read articles – any kind! – then write a paragraph about them. All of the work was this lame and un-educational. We got a point for each and once you had enough points, you were done with school.

One would think that with it being so easy, I just breezed through it. But I didn’t. I felt like I was insulting my intelligence every time I walked through the door. It wasn’t long before I was ditching out early to get to Burger King before they stopped serving breakfast. Not much longer after that, they asked me to stop coming so they could use the space for someone who wanted to be there.

PM ended up graduating with the class. It seems the hours she spent in front of the TV blurbing articles from the paper really paid off for her.

I ended up trying online school and another alternative school (twice!) before I earned my diploma two years late.

Everyone asks themselves at one point or another, “If I could change _____, would I?” There aren’t a lot of things I’d say “yes” to. My experiences have made me who I am. They led me to have the family I have today. I could never willingly give that up. But staying in school is the one thing I would change. Dropping out is the number one regret I have in life. Because I will never know where life would have taken me had I given myself those opportunities.

This all comes to mind because of the troubles we are having with Ninja Boy. He is at an age where he really controls what he’d like to. If he doesn’t want to bring his homework home, he doesn’t have to. And we’re none-the-wiser.

I have pleaded, fought and screamed. I talk to his teachers via phone and email whenever I can. We’ve developed several plans to avoid the excuses – but no matter what we do, he finds a way out of it. “Forgetting” papers, a mysteriously destroyed assignment books, anything he can to get out of doing his homework.

As we are struggling through this, the only thing in my head is “Don’t give up on him.” As frustrated as I get with the whole situation, I know that if we just give up, his education won’t mean anything to him. I know from my own personal experience how important it is to have someone CARE about what you are doing. And how easy it is to give it all up when you realize that no one does.

What was your education experience like? Were you an ignored slacker or did your parents try to prep you for Ivy League? If you have kids, how do you keep them interested in school/learning?

**The title makes me laugh so hard – some girl left that comment on my little brother’s Bebo page one day. And these children are who will be running our country in twenty years – sorry – our “cntry.”


Butrfly4404 said...

Hindsight Disclaimer: I don't think everyone who went to an alt. school is a fuck up or stupid. The kids at THAT school were. The second school I went to had a lot more people like me in it (semi-fuck-ups). Just read that again and thought I should clarify that.

Brillig said...

I think you're doing a good thing with Ninja Boy. Don't give up on him, don't ignore him. It will help him so much.

The rest of my comment was so freakin' long that I decided, "hmmmm, instead of taking up all her comment space, why don't I try to remember that I have my OWN blog, and write it all there?"

This is a really great topic. I (and so many) can relate.

Kateastrophe said...

I, like you in Jr High, had it easy in school. I liked it, I did well.

My problem is that it was TOO easy. I had skipped a grade already, and no one pushed me hard enough (I was encouraged but not enough I guess)to study harder or push myself to take harder classes.

I was lucky that I had good friends who didn't encourage TOO much slacking, but I regret not taking it a little more seriously and getting doing a little better and working a little harder to get further ahead in college and life.

I got into a good college, but I just missed the scholarship level. I did well in college but I was a music theatre major :D I regret not working just a little harder to be a little better.

Keep pushing NB. He may hate it now but he'll thank you later!

Worker Mommy said...

Absolutely don't give up on NB. He may not appreciate it now but he certainly will later.
My parents never checked or asked about homework. Its not that they weren't great parents they just trusted me and I unfortunately wasn't worthy of the trust at that time.
Freshman and sophomore years I hardly passed as I was more in to the social aspect of school then the academic.
Then as I realized that college might actually be fun and that my parents might actually pay for me to be away from home and "party" I got serious. Junior and Senior year I signed up for AP classes and broke my neck trying to make up for lost time and managed to get nearly all A's.
I know that I want to keep a tighter reign on what B & J are doing in school. I don't want to be overbearing but I do want to be very involved!

Shauna said...

Amy - You'll be fine. Just remember what you said:

"The only thing in my head is “Don’t give up on him.”"

My parents didn't check up on me, but they sent me to a prep school and guilted me constantly about making sure I got their money worth. Yes, I got a good education, but wish my parents had supported me instead of guilting me into it. But, that being said, I'm grateful for the opportunity.

Cherann said...

Keep on truckin Butrfly...Ninja boy is lucky that you care so much. Perhaps The Man can do something to get him more excited about school. I think boys at Ninja's age, really, really look up to their male role models.

I was an honors kid slacker. I was the kid that did well even if I didn't do the homework. I went to public school, took 7 Advanced Placement classes, Passed all 7 and skipped out of a year of college. Education wasn't really talked about in my family. It was a given because the example my parents set.

The Princess is only 3 and she ALREADY hates school. I don't know what I'm going to do.

Jodi said...

Yes, keep pushing the Boy. Let him know that you both expect him to do his best. NO expections. No excuses. That's just what he WILL do. How old is he? I am new to this blog and soooo very behind.

My parents really encouraged going to school when I was young. Not college, just regular school. My Mom was the only girl in her family of 6 girls and 3 boys to graduate high school and she told us how very LUCKY we were to get a free education. One thing she always did was read all the books that I was assigned in school, and my siblings too. I respected my Mom a lot to take the time to do that and I also knew I couldn't fudge on a book report because she would totally know that I didn't read it. :) It also very much fostered my learn of learning and reading because I had her as a good role model.

We had no money either so I knew college was not an option. I didn't go to college until I was 34! And it's just a Junior college at that but I still marvel at the fact that I went and I have a degree and am working on my second one. It's never too late. And by waiting so long I really am appreciating the education more than I ever would have out of high school.

My kids are 6 and 9 and both my husband and I encourage them to do their very best always. And we sit down with them to do their homework, ect. They are still little yet and so it's easy to keep tabs on them. I dread as they get into the higher grades because as you astutely pointed out they can choose to bring their homework or not and we'll never be the wiser. EEK.

Kelly said...

I had parents that "pushed" (not going to college was never ever an option), and I never really learned to push myself. So by the time I had to push by myself, I didn't know how. And I flunked out of college the first time.

I then went to work, saw the idiots that I would be working with the rest of my life, and I started looking into putting myself back into school. At this time my Father ironically called and said, "So are you ready to go back to school?" And off I went....finally with some self-motivation.

So what's the point of the rambling...I think instead of pushing, help him to find the self-motivation that he's going to need to make know, everywhere.

OH...and as a former teacher, I never, ever, ever was offended by parents wanting secretive conferences or wanting to know about homework assignments etc. At my kid's schools the teachers have their own little websites where you can see what homework has been assigned, what the kids are working on, etc. Just an idea...

Oh and one more thing...I was a teacher at an alternative school. My class was hard. That class of yours sounds ridiculous.

And at the school where I taught, you know the difference between the alternative kids vs. my daytime kids? Their parents. The alternative kids parents were either totally disinterested in their child's education or they were overly involved. And they were ALL

And as for my kids...I'm just praying I can find the balance in between. Boy it would really suck if I screwed this up!

Sugar Kane said...

It sounds like this is one of those times where you can use those tough experiences to help someone else. You've been there, been through it. Maybe it was so you could reach him now. Hang in there!

I was the kid that was expected to excell. I started out as a chemistry major. I will never forget the disappointment on my parents face when I told them I dropped out of med school, but I knew it was the right choice for me. You can't live your life for someone else.

moosh in indy. said...

I dropped out my senior year with a 3.9 average and a serious drinking problem. High school wasn't the right fit for me, too much drama, not enough of what I was actually there to do, learn. I have regrets but know there's no way I'd be where I am if I had stayed. High school is not for the faint of heart.

Amanda said...

I was one credit short of graduating.I could either pay $180 to take the credit in summer school or $25 to take my GED test.I chose the latter and have no regrets.