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Thread: A good graduation speech, and an education/schooling thread in general.

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2008

    A good graduation speech, and an education/schooling thread in general.

    I recently came across this: Graduation Speech
    A quick summary is that it a rather non-standard take from a valedictorian. I do recommend reading the entire thing.

    It more or less encompasses the issues I had myself in various school systems. A brief summary of which is this:
    I was helping my mother as a teacher's aide when I was 3. Among some of my duties were teaching 5 year old students the alphabet. Due to the way that school system worked I could not enter kindergarten until I was 5 and due to birthday timing it meant that I had to wait an extra year before enrolling. We moved after that to Florida. There I excelled until I hit 3rd grade - where my teacher had such a heavy accent (and I had ear issues - which trickled down into speech issues as I couldn't hear the "S" sound at all) that I literally could not understand her half the time.
    From there was a Nebraska school system, which despite 99th percentile testing, placed me in the lowest classes available. I more or less gave up at that point. A move to a well-regarded school system in NY eventually salvaged some of my interest in schooling but for the most part it was beat out of me at that point.

    What bothers me is how bad my experience was. My opinion is this: I should have been enrolled at 3. I should never have been shifted to bottom-rung classes in Nebraska, and my hearing issues in my younger life which were (upon investigating) well-known should have been handled a bit better. If I can't hear an "S" how can I know how to say it?

    That I suppose is a small and personal example. But I think it points to a systemic issue. My test scores were all 99th percentile. Yet starting from the 3rd grade I stopped working. It is unsettling to think but I did indeed have special needs. And they were largely ignored.

    So what of other students that are struggling? How hard must it be for others that are not engaged by the US's methods?

    The linked speech roused something in my memory. Our would-be valedictorian took two years off from high school and traveled. She came back and did not succeed in school. What had she learned? Perhaps that she was in fact only a computer before. Spitting out knowledge but knowing, learning, experiencing nothing.

    We get hammered into having equal potential. And it is all mediocre.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Nowhere (middle)
    For the speech:

    My own school experiences were similar. They didn't diagnose Asperger's in those days, so no one knew what was wrong with me, and I bounced from advanced class to special ed and was told I was "wasting my potential", but was not told how to use my potential. I learned more on my own reading at the local public library than I ever did in the public school that warehoused the local underage population. I was eventually sent to a private school with teachers who actually talked to students, but by then the damage had been done and I learned less than was offered, simply because by that point I'd lost the ability to see school as anything but a prison.

    The thing I regret most was not learning math; any interest I had in it was just ground out of me during those years by a series of dull (in every sense) teachers who treated the subject like they wanted students to be bored with it, and now I'm practically math-illiterate. It's the basis of all science and engineering, yet it's a closed book to me.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    i learned in about the 4th grade that there wasn't going to be much real "education" going on at school.
    i was one of those kids that tested really well and usually knew more than my teachers about the subject at hand, but i was never allowed into the "good" classes with the "smart" kids. i was never a special needs kid, but never got to be in the classes with the good teachers.
    with few exceptions, all of my teachers said i had a bad attitude- all i ever did was ask questions, and after a while i knew i wasn't going to get any good answers, so i started to develop my finely crafted sense of sarcasm, which led to my "bad attitude" by about grade 7 or so.
    in all my years of schooling, i think i only had maybe 2 teachers that actually taught me anything and that i actually respected as teachers. i absolutely hated the 'cool' teachers. unfortunately, most of the teachers wanted to be the 'cool' teachers, so i generally had a bad attitude at school and did most of my learning at home.
    i started skipping classes in about 8th grade, then skipping school altogether in 9th grade when the people in my social group started getting our driver's licenses. i dropped out about a month into 12th grade- i was pretty much a full year behind in credits and wasn't going to graduate, anyways, and i wasn't going to go to school for an extra year. i went back to school for the 3rd quarter of that year to prove a point- i showed up every day, did the assignments as given without asking questions or being too much of a wise guy, and got a report card with nothing but A's across the board- all this without ever having any homework and while screwing around during study hall.
    all of my teachers were shocked, and asked me why i "didn't apply myself". .s o i told them why i was the way i was and what part they had in it and went back to my slacker ways. i showed up about every other day, and even then for only about half of my classes for the rest of the year. a few times, i forgot my schedule and even the combination for my locker, so i was up at the office asking them where i was supposed to be.. everyone in the school thoughti was strung out on drugs or something, but i never touched the stuff- as of right now, i'm just under 3 months away from 36 years of total sobriety.. i think it was the long hair and jean jacket with the Metallica back patch and the way i was always tired and forgetting my shcedule that made them think that...
    anyways, they didn't bother to discipline me since they knew there was no real point in doing so and i wasn't really distracting all the other kids from getting their diplomas.
    i last set foot in that school about a week before my classmates graduated in June of '93.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    The valedictorian is being overly modest in her speech. In my experience at that level plain work is not enough if you just don't have the brains, study habits and a good understanding of your strengths and weaknesses. At least in this corner of the world our SAT equivalents really separated the teachers-favorite-active-polite-front-row-girls-who-always-do-their-homework-and-think-they-are-smart (no grudges... seriously) from the people who are at least couple of standard deviations above average IQ. I agree with the valedictorian that to be the best you need to put an unreasonable amount of work into it. I myself have also concluded that it's not really worth it in the end unless you are also interested in the subject. But to keep up that work you need to be really driven, and it's that same drive which I believe, together with good self-knowledge, make the top achievers excel at whatever they end up doing, be it scientific research or a minimum wage summer job cleaning public toilets.

    Quote Originally Posted by LotusExcelle View Post
    How hard must it be for others that are not engaged by the US's methods? .
    I wasn't that bright until around 9th grade, I guess being born in late december contributed to that too. Luckily I haven't been in schools like yours.

    I started school abroad, where I was one year older than the rest of the students because I didn't know the language. Because of that I think a lot of my classmates regarded me as slow (especially the to be teachers-favorite-active-polite-front-row-girls-who-always-do-their-homework-and-think-they-are-smart type) but didn't get discriminated for it because the teachers knew the deal. When we moved back to my home country my parents had tought me some extra math and language so I skipped over a grade but it turned out I hadn't been taught hand writing. I was provided with extra tutoring once a week for a semester and was able to catch up.

    The only class before high school I had in which there were skill groups was 8th grade maths. It was divided into three different levels. I was in the top one, but we just finished the book a bit earlier than the others and didn't really learn anything more than what the mid-level students did and the national education board had planned. But the lowest level covered only about a half of the subjects and had a much easier test in which the students did pretty bad. I knew some of them and its not like they were stupid or anything, just form a lower socioeconomic background. It pretty much showed how badly dividing people at such a young age works, it just lowers the average without benefiting the top performers. IIRC there are studies such as the Programme for International Student Assessment, which also show this.

    Test scores before around high school are pretty irrelevant IMHO, the best achieving students in our elementary school class turned out to be pretty average and some even had self image problems when they noticed they were not nearly as smart as they thought they were as other kids caught up.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Quote Originally Posted by novaderrik View Post
    i learned in about the 4th grade that there wasn't going to be much real "education" going on at school.
    I don't know if I ever realized that while in school. In hindsight, there are so many things we could have been taught but weren't, just as there were so many things we were taught that we probably shouldn't have been. But I suppose some of the things I find useless would have been found very useful by others who wond up pursuing a career where those things mattered.

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