… recently, I was on the receiving end of an insult that ripped apart my wall, tore though my defense and took a deep bite into my self-esteem. My worth was questioned, not by a peer, but by a teacher.
Nick Giulioni is a college-bound high school senior in Los Angeles. He writes for the Los Angeles Times education blog, The Homeroom: Southern California schools from the Inside Out. This week, he wrote – How a pineapple ruined my day
Nick writes about a recent class period spent graphing points and connecting them to form a picture of a pineapple. This was in a math class years past algebra.
…I found myself graphing this morning because my teacher was absent for a day and got behind. So instead of doing what a rational person would do (not assign busy work) this teacher decided to give some of the most degrading busy work I have ever experienced.
Just overblown dramatic teenage hyperbole? I don’t think so. Kids get assignments like this all the time, and are expected to silently complete them. Don’t complain, just connect the dots, solve the world search, and color in yet another family crest for a fictional character. Of course this will help you get into college!
Nick’s outrage is only unusual because we rarely hear such talk from students, much less successful students. The wonder is that more kids aren’t enraged. Oh, wait, maybe they are. Maybe they are checking out, both mentally and physically, because there is no way that their voices will be heard if they speak up. Degrading? Yes, it is degrading to be just considered an annoyance that needs to be kept quiet for a class period–not a learner and certainly not an individual.
What about the teacher? Maybe he or she really was busy, stressed, or having personal problems? Hey, everyone has a bad day, but really, that doesn’t matter in the long run. Whatever the teacher’s excuse might have been doesn’t change the way the assignment impacted the students. It was a clear message of power. You do what I tell you to, no matter how inappropriate, quietly and without thinking.
Perhaps I’m just more apt to get upset about this because I tend to keep myself very busy, but I felt as if my time was being disrespected.
So I spent 40 minutes working on a pointless assignment that I can’t possibly gain anything from. I decided to neglect exercise to fit this busy work into my schedule. But, hey, at least I got to draw a pineapple.
Even Nick feels he has to apologize, as if he only has the right to be upset because he’s a busy guy. At least he’s amusingly snarky about it. But I don’t think that he should have to temper his anger at being the target of a remedial assignment randomly tossed his way. Lucky for him, he has an outlet at a blog run by a world-class newspaper. I guess every kid should have one.