My fourth grade teacher, for reasons that were never completely clear, made herself a nemesis of sorts. She didn’t seem to like me or much of anything I did. My parents were somewhat aware and they didn’t get it either. Their sole advice was, “Be respectful.”
Easier said than done.
Her name was Mrs. Aker, a fitting name given the circumstances. She was my cross to bear until I could move on to fifth grade.
Of the various issues, conflicts, run-ins – however these should be characterized – one really stands out. My memory is spotty on some of the details, but clear on the central event.
We were studying music with a side of art appreciation.
One afternoon she put on a classical record. I can’t remember the piece, but as we listened we were to draw whatever we “saw” and “felt.”
Now, somewhere in a moment of daydreaming or distraction, I guess I missed a specific instruction about how we were supposed to draw whatever we saw. More on this later.
Anyway, the music played and it was lovely. Almost trancelike, I began to draw with my crayons as the music poured into my ears.
It’s important to note that, at that age especially, I would have been 8 or 9, I really liked to draw. It was something that gave me great pleasure.
And I loved music. Any kind of music. From bluegrass to gospel, from Earl Scruggs to Mantovani, from you-name-him-or-her to you-name-whatever-style, I loved music. Still do.
Although my passion for drawing faded.
Hmmm, I wonder why.
Anyway, back to my tale.
So, I was in a very good and intense place as I colored.
I don’t have the original drawings, but what I can remember is that I drew a large rainbow. Above the rainbow, I put birds as curvy “Vs” in flight. I may or may not have added a sun and clouds. I think I did.
At the bottom of one end of the rainbow, I drew a door, as if one could go through (as opposed to over) the rainbow, into a different reality. Standing at the door was a slightly more than stick-figure me. (Because I liked drawing doesn’t mean I was great at it!)
As we worked on our art, swallowed up in the music, Mrs. Aker paced up and down between the desks, whispering approval to each student.
Until she came to my desk.
She stopped. Stood there. And then asked loudly, “What are you doing?”
Everyone stopped drawing, looked up at me, and waited to see how she would pounce.
“I’m drawing like you said to,” I mumbled, surfacing from my reverie and feeling more than a little baffled by her question.
She pointed disdainfully at my drawing and proclaimed, “That’s not what you’re supposed to be drawing! You’re doing it wrong!”
The heat of my embarrassment pulsed up my neck and overtook my face. My heart beat hard and fast. And in my head I was struggling to understand what it was that I was doing wrong.
All the while doing my best to hold back the tears that desperately wanted out.
Totally confused, I muttered something along the lines of, “But I thought we were supposed to draw what we felt and saw as we listened to the music.”
Mrs. Aker, with a disdainful glare, ungraciously gestured around me at the drawings on the desks nearby. “Look at these! Can’t you see what they are doing? That’s what you’re supposed to be doing!”
As I glanced from desk to desk I was stunned.
Each student had taken a black crayon and drawn a random bunch of overlapping loops. They were filling in each gap with different colors.
Everyone but me was doing the same thing. Everyone.
And this was supposed to be what we saw as we listened to the music!
Mrs. Aker flipped my paper over and ordered, “Now, do it like everyone else.”
I felt totally foolish, thoroughly confused, and deeply embarrassed. Even now, and every time this episode comes to mind, the emotions return as well.
I was humiliated. Devastated. Invalidated.
“I must be really stupid,” I thought to myself, because I could not then, or now, recall whatever instructions she must have given that drove everyone else into drawing loops.
I was the only dumb kid in the whole dumb room drawing a dumb rainbow.
Somewhere, scattered among the pieces of my broken and shamed fourth grade heart, there also pearled a small grain of anger. After all, I was drawing what I saw as I listened to the music! And it was a good drawing!
But of course I didn’t say any of this out loud.
On that day in that moment, she failed me as a teacher. And “Education” let me down.
The educational system was awry in that place and time. But this wasn't an isolated example.
There was my sociology teacher in high school who marked points off a paper because he claimed I’d misspelled “tomorrow” in three places. I pulled out the dictionary and showed him that I had not. Still, he would not change my grade, stating, “Well, there are probably other mistakes I missed.”
"Education" is a bunch of hokum
Someone has possibly maybe allegedly said, “Although Education can be a comfort to some, it can also be very damaging and repressive, an insidious form of mind control that has led to blind acceptance of serfdom, poverty, and war throughout history. To this day, especially in the United States, Education is used to create support for war around the world.”
And there are so many different views as to how best to go about educating students. No one agrees and there's a ton of conflict that occurs among educators.
And teachers tend to be lazy, especially after they get tenure. Then they just sit back and mistreat their students.
And many teachers are predators. It doesn't take much searching to find another story in the news of male and female teachers who have preyed on their students.
And so many of so called institutions of “Higher Learning” are nothing but money machines profiting a small minority of those controlling them. Their focus is money and not providing quality educations.
So, as a result of my bad experiences with Education, I will have nothing to do with it or those who promote it.
I no longer believe in Education.
Frankly, I believe we should shut down all the schools, fire all the teachers, dismiss all Boards of Educations, remove Arne Duncan from office and disassemble the U.S. Department of Education, and just allow individuals to learn however they wish.
Education and teachers are evil. Period.