School Sucks Then and Now and Here is Why

Morning Folks!!

I was not a very good student in school until the last
semester of High School. Until then I was a “D” student. 1.75 GPA going into that last semester! I graduated
with exactly enough credits to make it. In that last semester I had something
to prove. I can’t even count the number of schools I went to. Three in just the last 3 semesters of
high school. I did not get in trouble, but I was bored. Plain and simple. School did little more than grade
you on how well you memorize things. That’s about it. What are the chances a
kid wants to remember something they are not even interested in? Other than
Math and some points of history, I
was just bored. So do they still
do it this way? Is memory as important if you have access to all the info in the
world in the palm of your hands? Is that the #1 thing anymore?

I look at it differently. I believe you only need to teach a
child one thing. One thing! If you can unlock this little lynch pin, just do it
and get the hell out of the way. The only thing worth spending time on is to
teach a child to embrace learning. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less. Once
he has a burning desire to learn, all they need is some guidance. The majority
of the other stuff is no longer useful. Math, English, History, may still have
to be taught. But not by boring teachers!

If you want to teach me about the history of computers, let
Steve Jobs do a documentary and distribute it. He just may be a little more
compelling than 5 million teachers spread out all teaching something different
and in many cases not even true or accurate. This is a new era. We still teach
like it was 200 years ago. (Atleast in the USA and the education scores prove it)

Math to me is the cornerstone of it all. It’s why I write
about numbers. If kids are only taught using a calculator, they will never be
able to have the logic that one needs in life. Logic is based on numbers. Good
decision making is largely based on numbers. So many parts of life are based on
numbers and without a strong understanding of numbers and the impact of them it
is a true handicap in so many situations.

In that last semester of High School I got straight “A’s”
and made the Dean’s list for the first time. I proved I could do it. I proved many things in that semester some 40 years ago.But my education really never even began until I left school and started
working. Getting jobs. Working in different industries. Traveling. Having an
enormous amount of time to think about life and what I wanted out of it and
what life wanted out of me.

I still have teachers. But the teachers I have used are not
found in a classroom today. They are figures of the past and present. From the
guy pumping gas to the maid, to the watron, to anyone my life’s path intersects

But there are also 2 or 3 guys from history whose wisdom and
advice I use and ask for on a continuing basis. Whose quotes are a guiding
light. Ben Franklin, Mark Twain, Albert Einstein. Those are the best 3 teachers
I ever had and they continue to teach me to this very day.

Have a GREAT Day!

Rick Schwartz

14 thoughts on “School Sucks Then and Now and Here is Why

  1. Kevin

    Excellent topic!
    I was just thinking about this looking at my son’s classes recently. He just entered high school.
    I agree completely! Why do they force kids, especially once the basics are learned, to take classes in things they don’t have any interest in nor plan to go into for their career?
    For example this semester my son has to take Biology, which he already said he doesn’t like nor have an interest in. His focus is on business and computers, so why shouldn’t he take classes in that instead?
    The answer is because of the immense power of the teacher’s union and the way the education system operates. It is a system. And that’s the problem. It’s not designed to benefit students as much as it is to keep teachers working and school administrators getting lush salaries.
    I was amazed this morning to read the Superintendents of the county schools here make $300,000 per year. They even get $900 per month to cover a car payment? I never realized school admins were making $25,000 PER MONTH! I’m still shaking my head in disbelief on that kind of salary for a county worker.
    I was mostly an A & B student, and often got honor roll. When I went to college though I got totally bored by the classes I had to take, and like Bill Gates LOL, decided I couldn’t wait any longer to get out into the real world and just wanted to get into business, so I left college early after my 2nd year.
    Our entire education system needs to be reworked and updated for the 21st century.

  2. jeff schneider

    Hello Rick,
    I too was bored, especialy in High School. My I.Q. was high and my teachers could not figure out why I wasn’t motivated to get higher grades. They ran me through psychological tests more than once to try to figure it out. They never followed through and just let it slide.
    Years later after graduating from Kent State university my wife and I experienced the same pattern that I experienced with my youngest daughter. I was determined to figure this thing out for my daughters sake. So we followed up with professional counseling outside the school system, and found that her I.Q. put her in the mensa category.
    To make a long story short. She simply was bored with the whole process of memorization dynamics, taught in all grade schools. So she tested out and got accepted into college starting her would be junior year in high school as a freshman in college. Long story short, she just needed to be challenged intellectually.
    So when I read your story, I can relate totally. Our country teaches people to be orderly not creative. We can all see the results of this every day on the news.
    A lot of our problems stem from watching too much TV. I rarely watch TV, which I consider a Trojan Horse that we invite into our homes at a trajic cost to us all.

  3. e

    Seriously! Well said too Kevin!..
    It is horrifying that our kids are spending 50-60% of their time reading fiction novels and regurgitating made up stories as education.
    btw..I went to one of the most prestigious private high schools in the u.s. as well as a top 25 university and this happened at both..imagine at other schools what goes on.
    My most valuable courses were all statistics classes and I actually thought biology and chemistry were important to learn about organisms and how the matter we interact with works..but yeah, u.s. schools are horrifying,,
    how about classes on good credit, brainstorming, business math, intro to IT etc..


    I agree with a lot of your position, but not all. The primary purpose of an education is to have well-rounded children learn about what has happened in the past (History) the world around them (Geography) how Governments work (Civics and Social Studies) how to interact with others (Extra-curricular activities) how to reason (Math) how to read (English) how to understand that others speak a foreign language (French, Spanish, etc.) and what makes up our earth and universe (Physics, Geology,Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry).
    The PROBLEM is our antiquasted methods of getting these messages across. Our educational system is so far behind Japan’s, India,s China’s, etc, that it is no wonder that everything is being outsourced abroad, But in our society, education is not as important as athletics or movies where athletes and movie stars are paid obscene amounts while teachers get paid next to nothing. It just shows why we are on the way to being a 2nd tier country instead of the leader we once was.

  5. Tony

    Who needs institutional education when you have a PhD from the school of life like Mr Schwartz.
    I agree with Rick. With the emergence of the internet and in particular, a 10 year old child armed with a laptop and the knowledge of how to use a search engine can outmatch almost any adult.
    Schools have to churn out milions of kids a year and so I don’t expect much change from the rote memorization factory/production style that currently burdens them.
    I do take exception to some people who dropped out of high school or college and try to put themselves in the same sentence as Thomas Edison or Bill Gates. For the record, Bill Gates was not bored in college at Harvard. He sat in grad courses that interested him. He left college because he saw a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity he couldn’t resist and college was only in the way. Being bored in HS is a legit complaint as you have to take the standard regimen of classes. But being bored in college is ludicrous when you get to choose what you’d like to concentrate on. There are core classes but those are not as many as HS.
    It is true that the educational system in the US is behind those in Europe and Asia but that gap is closed in college. This is why THEY send their best students to our universities. Why do you think the majority of Nobel Prize winners in Science and Medicine are US educated if our educational system is so bad?
    P.S. My first intellectual love was math and astronomy as a kid and I majored in physics in college before going to dental school. I also admired Albert Einstein growing up.

  6. owen frager

    Franklin, Twain and Einstein- That’s where I went to school and still do.
    “Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school.”

  7. Ross

    “But my education really never even began until I left school and started working.”
    That is probably the single best sentence to sum up everyone’s education. You can teach anyone anything in a class room but you really have not truly learned until you have lived and breathed it.

  8. owen frager

    And here’s the one statistic that troubled me this morning: Student debt grew 25% in the 2008-2009 school year, says the latest from the Department of Education.
    So much for ‘the great deleveraging.'”Total student loans outstanding exceeded $75 billion during the period, up from roughly $60 billion the year before. An estimated 66% of US college students borrow money for school, with the average individual debt load of $23,186 by graduation.”
    So let’s get this straight…the next generation is borrowing more than ever, at a faster rate then ever, during extremely worrisome credit conditions, heading into the worst employment environment in recent history, while on the verge of inheriting the biggest federal debt burden the world has ever known?”

  9. Adam

    Your views on education are a smack in the face to those who put time and energy in to the education system and especially to those who have prospered as a result. Every person is different and what works for some doesn’t work for others but don’t put down something just because it didn’t work for you. I’m not sure if this writing was inspired by Obama’s recent speech (and I’m no fan mind you) but it’s a good read

  10. John

    25% of the teachers are really great. The majority are not so great. They have a job not because they are good but because the unions protect them. Until the 25% speak up, the majority that are not so good will rule and this is what we get. Schools are antiquated and maybe it is time for them to update instead of defending them. If they get insulted and the shoe fits, so be it.
    There is a reason private schools are filled to capacity. The public schools system has failed. Give thm an f. Some may deserve to get smacked in the face and the good teachers should do the smacking.

  11. Danny Pryor

    There you go again, Rick … remember something Einstein said!”Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition by mediocre minds”. Here’s a problem, by the numbers. According to Mensa, only 39 percent of the population has an IQ of 105 or higher … and only 15 percent with an IQ above 115. Since the intelligence factor is required to”get it”, aren’t we pretty much screwed? I mean, Texas has outlawed discussing evolution, unless you qualify it as”may have happened”. Morons are running this country into the f*&%@# ground! As that too dim a view? How can people teach anything when all they want is to control young minds so those young minds end up voting for the fascist, extremist, religious fanatic preying upon stupidity. Whatever happened to the high road? Of course education is stuck in the early 18th Century … so are the politicians. And most Americans are too stupid or ignorant or apathetic about the entire issue to have any impact. I shouldn’t have replied. I’m too passionate about this stuff. So, I agree with you on the need to overhaul the system … the problem is that I don’t see it happening because we are descending into a new”dark ages”. Don’t get me started on how it happened – that’s a novel, all its own.


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