Yesterday, I had my kid’s parents’ evening. Thank God, she’s doing better this year (Uman really helped), but as I sat there for an hour (outside the wrong classroom….) waiting for my turn to speak to the teacher, I started pondering why it is school = torture.
Because make no mistake about it, it really does.
Both for the kids, and for the parents.
I’ve been pondering on how the only real difference between school and prison is that in prison, you get let out early for good behavior, while in school, good pupils are expected to add on another 3-4 years to their sentence by going to university.
And I’m not sure about this last one, but I think the food is probably better in prison.
One kid keeps finding spiders in the lettuce, dead flies stuck to the tomatoes, and other pieces of ‘mank’ that should be no-where near a kitchen, and especially not an apparently ‘kosher’ kitchen.
The other one just keeps getting fed white pasta…and more pasta…and more pasta… Except on Chanuka, when the pasta is replaced by donuts. Her candida is now way off the charts, and she’s bloating up like the proverbial blimp – and I’m just waiting for her sentence to finally end, in June, so I can start her proper school detox program.
The other one just eats cans now – cans of tuna, cans of corn, anything to avoid the insect-infested salad and dry bread. (I know, doesn’t this sound Victorian?) And her spots are also way off the charts.
Sometimes, I wonder if school was designed by the medical establishment, as it’s hard to think of a better way of wearing kids down, filling them up with poisonous things of all stripes, and stressing them out no end.
And we all know, stress is the underlying cause of nearly all illnesses, not least because it weakens the immune system a whole bunch.
And we all know, school is incredibly, awfully stressful.
Part of it is the endless, pointless, exams, where the kids aren’t really being taught to think for themselves, but just to regurgitate material, like some masticating bovine.
Part of it, is the endless, pointless expectations and pressures on the student to conform, and to fall into line, and to become one with the herd.
And part of it is the fact that school goes on for way too long.
As my kids have passed through this penal system called ‘school’, I’ve come to realize that they could easily finish their bagrut by 16, and then be off doing far more useful things with their life.
I’ve seen how each one got so depressed and miserable that first year of high school, at age 14, because they could feel in their bones that they were completely and utterly wasting their time, and wasting their lives.
Why ‘force-feed’ Tanach to students and then set exams on it?
Just so they’ll hate it so much when they’re adults, they’ll never open up a sefer of navi ever again in their lives?
One kid tells me her Tanach teacher just projects biblical verses up on the screen in the darkened classroom, and drones on in such a boring voice that my kid is usually asleep within 5 minutes. I’ve asked her to record it, as it sounds like a fabulous sleep aid and healthy replacement for Lunesta.
And then there’s sport, where they’re expected to drop to the floor and do 10 press-ups a minute, mamash like boot camp.
Except boot camp is less stressful, because no-one is grading your press-ups in boot camp, and telling you that the rest of your life depends on how well you do those 50 stomach crunches.
Here’s what I can see about school:
My kid comes home telling me all sorts of stuff that is the ‘mainstream’, secular view of the world (even though she’s in a religious ulpana) and I have to explain that there’s another view of things. We discuss, we argue – and she starts to see that so much of what’s she’s being told is actually just not true. And certainly, not in alignment with the authentic, Torah view of things.
But then, that puts her in a quandary. Once, she made the mistake of trying to discuss an alternative view of things with one of her teachers, and the teacher was extremely disconcerted and didn’t know what to do with her.
(The pupils aren’t the only ones who are being brain-washed in school.)
So I told my kid: ‘Play the game, nod and smile, and keep your mouth shut. Tell the teachers whatever they want to hear that will get you a passing grade and keep you out of trouble, and then come home and ask me your real questions. We’ll go find things out together.’
Because I don’t pretend that I know everything. (My husband would probably say I’m lying.)
2. It’s the main cause of teenage’d depression.
Not least, because most of it is a complete and utter waste of time, and has only been put in place as a brain-washing program by the secular atheists who run governments and universities.
Thank God, I live in Israel where a huge chunk of the society is already very suspicious of school.
Thank God, I’m not stressing my kids out endlessly about bagruts, or making a living, or going to university blah-de-blah-de-blah.
I tell them:
Just get through your prison sentence, and try to get a bagrut if it’s at all possible, as it’s a pain to go back and do it when you’re older. But, you CAN go back and do it when you’re older, if you need to figure things out first. And only go to university after you’re married, and if you really need a degree for the career you want to do. Otherwise, avoid it like the plague!!!
Yes, there are some good things about school, it’s true. Learning how to self-motivate, complete tasks, get on with other people, work as part of a team and problem solve is all useful stuff.
I find that these skills are mostly developed after hours, when the students are working together to figure out how to properly game the system and stay out of trouble.
Horrible, torturous school.
Throw-back and relic of Victorian times, when children were expected to be ‘seen, but not heard’, and cruelty to children was considered necessary for building their character.
There’s got to be another way, don’t you think?
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