Thursday, June 19, 2008

The USA is big.

And there are different points of view that are prevalent in different locations. It's a country made up of cultures that vary not just by people's foreign origins but by region.

Having said that, I wonder why I'm surprised that in random places like Los Angeles and Arizona and Illinois or Indiana or someplace (I forgot, oops) there are reports of high school teachers being fired for being too "Afrocentric" (LA) and for saying "I honk for peace" (upper midwest). I should note that I suspect that the news source I got this from is rather left leaning and that the whole story was not told.

Even so, this firing of teachers for such reasons would not likely happen in central New Jersey, where I went to a public high school. This is how I know.

Senior year I took an AP history class. The teacher, Mr. C., spent a large percentage of class time lecturing vehemently on the following points:

1) socialism and communism are better than capitalism (they only fail miserably because of how they're implemented);
2) spending lots of money on national defense is ridiculous (if only I could reproduce his sneer in writing!);
3) any economic problems are due to policies of Republicans (changes in interest rates and the destruction of the NYC WTC have little or no effect; also, it's easy to tell which president caused which effects because changes in the economy occur immediately after new policies are introduced - okay, he never explicitly stated that second part, but he couldn't refute the challenges of his students when they brought that up);
4) poor people only vote for Republicans because they are ignorant (I'm glad I learned that one so I could explain it to my Republican extended family - descendants of PA coal miners and VA/TN farmers).

I also learned a lot about him:

1) his goal in life is to learn about himself (How very deep and helpful on a large scale);
2) his career goal was to teach one class at a university in North Carolina and spend most of his time reading on the beach (Work? What?);
3) his advice to his high school aged daughter on sex was "don't get pregnant" (Not, "don't engage in acts that could lead to pregnancy." How much sense does it make to say to a teenager, "don't have this outcome," without focusing on the cause of that outcome?);
4) if his daughter were to get pregant he would "take care of it," which he said meant she would have an abortion - no choice (because surgery is a GREAT form of birth control for a developing woman).

At the end of that year, this teacher was given some departmental award. Lame.

Fortunately, I did get college credit for the course - by studying an AP test prep book I bought at B&N.

This teacher was sometimes challenged (usually by me), and sometimes by students who studied economics and cited facts that disproved his assertions. He was FANTASTIC at saying, oh, you're right about this, but, blah blah blah subtle subject change are you placated now by me admitting you have a point, okay, let's move on. It made my brain hurt. I wished we could have devoted more classtime to debate - a little truth and common sense in class would have been nice.

There were two days I helped a club faculty advisor with work and showed up to Mr. C.'s class late. The second time I walked in late, he called me out in front of the class and chastised me for avoiding class. I replied, indignantly, with something to the effect of, "Well, maybe if you taught the subject matter you're supposed to teach, this class would be worth coming to." I never got in trouble for that.

I really should have tried to take the bastard down. I really don't think it would have worked. I'm pretty sure I complained to various guidance counselors but I guess it didn't seem like a big deal to them, or like something they could do anything about. I should have taped the guy. Dammit. I hope he's retired, getting fatter on a beach somewhere and NOT TEACHING ANYONE.

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