Thursday, September 3, 2015

Ten Reasons I’m Happy To Be Done With School


This week’s Thursday Ten is a joint effort with Mama Kat’s Pretty Much World Famous Writer’s Workshop.

There was really only one prompt that was appropriate for me to reply to, and it was:

Top 10 reasons why you are glad you are done with school.

My formal education ended in December 1977, although I did take two classes toward my MBA in 1979. (An MBA is pretty well useless if you have a BBA. For that matter, it’s pretty well useless if you don’t, although there are still a few employers who make a big stink about it.) I have taken some continuing education courses through Kennesaw State University. In fact, I have a Certificate in Advanced Web Design from them; it’s proven every bit as worthless as this young woman’s BA (cum laude) in Theater. (Wonder if she’ll ever figure out that it isn’t entirely worthless?) I’ve also taken a couple of MOOC’s from Iversity, one of which left me so confused that I gave up halfway through it.

I still have opinions about being in school, though, and I’d like to share my reasons why I’m glad I never have to go through that again.

Expensive textbooks that never get used. School, especially college (and I’m including community colleges as well as universities), is a racket, particularly for textbook manufacturers. Seriously, I’ve seen textbooks go for over $200, and this was on Amazon. Then, when the professor who said it was a required text never refers to it, or when reading it has nothing whatsoever to do with what the professor lectures on, or reading the damn book does you no good when preparing for exams, you threw your money away. And when you try to resell it and can’t because there’s a revised edition for next semester (involving three pages in the appendix), you’re stuck with it.

Professors or teachers you can’t understand. I’m not talking only about the ones who come from other parts of the world and speak a heavily-accented version of English. I’m also talking about the ones who talk to the board, or who have scripted their lectures and read the script like they’re trying to remember what it was they were supposed to talk about.

Professors who have no idea what’s going on. A corollary to the one above. My first quarter of college, I had an art appreciation class taught by a professor who, although she was a tremendous painter, had been breathing the paint and turpentine fumes a little too long. It was one of those stadium classes with about 300 students in the room, and she would get on stage, clip on the microphone, put a slide up on the screen, and talk about it for fifty minutes. Until the third week of class, it was the same slide. One day, a collie with about fifteen metal tags on her collar entered stage right, walked around the entire room jingling like Santa’s sleigh, and exited stage left. She barked three times, then came back into the room and ran around it the other way. I finally got the dog’s attention and led her out to the street, where her owner was relieved to find her. I went back to the classroom, and the professor was still droning along, apparently never having broken stride.

Silly rules. Not just things like dress codes and no-smoking rules. I’m talking about the teacher who threatened to mark me down for making my “e”s in a manner she took exception to, or the teacher who threw a hissy fit over my turning in an assignment on college-ruled paper rather than wide-ruled, or who flunked a friend of mine for using a pencil rather than a pen on an exam. And there was that ban on ballpoint pens I talked about here.

Fire drills. I was a weird kid who was scared by a lot of silly things, among them water heaters, Emergency Broadcast System tests, public restrooms, and fire drills. I wasn’t actually scared of fire drills themselves, more of being shocked out of my seat by a very loud buzzer. I understood the need for them; after all, Our Lady of the Angels was in Chicago, and we didn’t want anything like that to happen. They just startled me.

Feeling lost. Any time I changed schools, I felt a little lost. I felt especially lost when I started college. I’m not gregarious and always felt like I had to do everything on my own, so I wasn’t good about asking for help. It was also my first experience with huge classes and professors who didn’t explain what they wanted. The art appreciation class I talked about above was specifically for sophomores and above, and I really didn’t belong there, and I was afraid that the prerequisite police were going to arrest me and send me to the gas chamber.

Exams. When I got to college, final grades were calculated by a midterm and a final exam. Sometimes two midterms and a final, or a paper, a midterm, and a final. Whatever the case, I never felt like I knew what to study, and never felt comfortable going to the library and looking at past exams. So I’d be nervous going in, and even more nervous coming out.

Typing. Seems silly now, with computers and word processing software, but none of that had been invented yet, so when I wanted to type something, I would have to cope with paper, correction fluid (or correction tape or erasers), and the vast numbers of mistakes I’d make while typing a paper.

Group projects. I like working by myself, being an introvert and all, and when a class required I work with one or more people, I would end up doing everything by myself, anyway, even if others were doing those parts, and getting in arguments because the others did their parts differently from me.

Required Courses. These were always a drag, because if you ended up with a real jerk as an instructor, you were torn between dropping the class (meaning you’d have to take it again) or toughing it out with a lousy teacher (meaning you’d hate it and do crappy in it).

It’s only now that I realize a lot of the things I hated about school were self-inflicted…

Anyway, that’s the Thursday Ten.

from The Sound of One Hand Typing

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