Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Common Sense Just Flew Out The Window

It seems in the land of the free and the home of the not so intelligent (oops, I mean brave), that common sense has flown out the window. Kevin Francois, a high school junior, broke an inviolable school rule at Spencer High School, in Columbus, Georgia and committed the grievous sin of taking a call during his lunch break from his mother, Sgt. 1st Class Monique Bates, who left in January for a one-year tour with the 203rd Forward Support Battalion. It seems that Kevin answered a phone call from his mother, who had to struggle to find a phone on which to call him.

A teacher, doing his duty, saw Kevin talking on his cell phone and confiscated it from him. Here is where common sense flew away. Said teacher, when presented with Kevin’s' understandable wail of protest did not THINK. A THINKING person might have been understandably taken aback at Kevin’s' behavior, but still let the following syllables penetrate his cranium and reach the gray matter.... "It's my mother, calling from Iraq."

At this point, said SENSIBLE teacher would, instead of taking the phone and hanging it up, have asked the person on the phone who she was, and verified that yes, she was who Kevin said she was. Said SENSIBLE teacher might then have either stood there allowing him to finish the conversation, or given Mom the number of the school office, where Kevin could then have finished his call out of view of his fellow students. BUT NOOOO, not our intrepid educator, and upholder of unbendable rules.

No phone calls whatsoever...that are what the person charged with helping our young people THINK said. What an example! It's hard to express the emotions that I feel while envisioning this scene. There are just some circumstances, oh brilliant and learned teacher, where you must THINK, and use JUDGEMENT, and perhaps BEND the rules a bit.

How about this one? I AM MAKING THIS UP AS AN EXAMPLE. Kevin is in the hallway and gets a call from his fictitious sister. Fictitious Sister, FS for short has been abducted and is now in the trunk of a car speeding to certain doom, but the kids have cell phones, and in the dark she punches the last number she has dialed, her brother's. FS is in the middle of her cry for help when....the guardian of SCHOOL RULES grabs the phone and says "sorry Kevin, no calls, no reason, no way". Kevin screams, but it's my sister, she's been kidnapped and is locked in a trunk and needs help, whereupon the teacher says....you know the rules, Kevin, and lower your voice buddy or it's suspension till year end for you!

After all, it's not the particular set of circumstances that determine the judgment of blind rule followers, but blind adherence to the rules, NO MATTER WHAT!!!!! Oh well, FS is just out of luck on this one, as poor upset Kevin is hauled into the office.

You must understand here, I am not saying that people should always bend the rules, and for reasons that are not important, but that is where judgment comes in. Judgment and discernment are desirable qualities that intelligent and educated humans are supposed to have. Perhaps this doesn't always apply to educators, such as the principal who reduced Kevin's suspension to 10 days because he didn't want to cause undue hardship. Give me a break here. In all fairness, Kevin should have been returned to class, and the teacher and principal suspended without pay till the end of the year. But then that result would require thought and judgment.


At 2:20 PM, Blogger Jossarian said...

I don't know if you've noticed, but the goal of the American educational system isn't to make people think. I graduated from a SC high school when I was an exchange student. The difference between the US and Finnish educational systems was horrifying. Examples? I got the second best grade in my English Literature class, the best grade went to a Norwegian exchange student.

I caught the psychology teacher in outright lies several times, and one of the biggest howler was like straight out of a book by L. Ron Hubbard: taking stimulant and depressant drugs at the same time is bad because the heart first tries to beat faster in reaction to the stimulants, and then beat slower in reaction to the depressants, which results in a heart attack.

WHAT?. This was taught to high school seniors for Pete's sake. No talk about how drugs are metabolized in the liver, no talk about neurochemistry.

And what's with the multiple-choice exams? Even the English Literature exam was mostly multiple choice, with a couple of short, half-page essay questions. Ridiculous.

I could just go on and on about this...

At 3:33 PM, Blogger Shauna said...

Jossarian, thanks for your comment. I too, have a lot to say about the American educational system. My kids are still in it. The system is so bogged down with the same problems that plague society in general, for example, fear of lawsuits, the pressure to make all our kids look like superstars, especially to their parents, dealing with uninvolved parents, and dealing with behavior problems, that teaching a solid humanities based curriculum in the early grades has pretty much "flown out the window" with common sense. There are bright spots. Some of our kids excel, but generally they are the ones from the brightest families who have the advantage of outside help and encouragement which most children do not get. I would be interested to know if you considered yourself to be an above average student in your country. Do you think most Finnish children would place at the level you did in American schools?

I agree with you, intellectual integrity is a tremendous problem here


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