When I was going through school, I was always getting into trouble. I was suspended so many times I can`t remember. Even expelled early in the 8th grade. At the time, they always seemed like they were for different reasons. Now that I think back, I can see more of a pattern about why all those suspensions occurred.
I was questioning authority.
These were not serious “crimes” at school. It’s not like I was caught selling drugs or carrying a weapon. I just wouldn’t take no for an answer if there wasn’t a good enough reason to be doing something.
I used to be into drawing. So, during high school, I took an art class. The strangest thing happened, though. I ended up failing that class because there were too many things we were doing that didn’t make any sense. We had a project assigned to us during that class. The assignment was to write a paper on an artist we liked. The problem I encountered was the word “artist” did not mean the same thing to me as it did to the teacher.
To me, an artist is anyone who creates any type of art through any medium. This could be drawing, painting, sculpting, writing, music, architecture, or whatever. It’s all art in it’s own way. At that point I had been playing guitar for about two years and was getting pretty good. Music was always on my mind. When I received the assignment I thought about writing about a musician. I didn’t see any problem with it because for one, we were writing papers in art class, not English class. Surely a musician would fit in the category of “artist.”
Well, this didn’t go over so well with the art teacher. We all had to stand up in front of the class and read our paper out loud. When it was my turn, I stood up and read my paper. From what I can remember it was pretty good. I wrote my paper on Tom Morello. He was the guitar player from Rage Against The Machine and plays for Audioslave right now.
When I had finished reading. The teacher just gave me a funny look. “That is not a real artist,” she said. “I wanted you to write about a real artist like a painter.” I ended up arguing with her over this. After some back and forth arguments I lost because you can’t question authority in front of the class.
At that point I realized. Most teachers in the public school system don’t completely know what they’re talking about. They are making up rules as they go. Manipulating and molding the students how they are told to, through their curriculum.
Thinking back to all those other times I had been suspended, I could have been right to ask my questions. But, because the teachers didn’t like the questions, it was my fault. Because my way of thinking didn’t follow their agenda, it was my fault and I needed to be corrected. Sure, sometimes I was probably wrong. But, how would I know which times if I was wrong to ask every time.
It had gotten so bad during my junior high years I was taken to see a psychologist who ended up diagnosing me with ADHD. What comes along with that diagnosis? That’s right. I was put on Ritalin for my remaining years in high school. I know I do not have ADHD now that I’m in my mid 30’s. I didn’t have it then either. I could sit for hours drawing one picture with great detail. I could be in my room making toy models or playing the same song on my guitar for hours and hours until I got it right. Those were not the traits of a kid with ADHD. Those were the traits of a kid who became bored in school because it was too easy. And, if no one could tell me why I had to waste so much time on easy things, I began to keep myself occupied in other ways. Which usually led to me getting into trouble and being suspended.
I now have a young boy who will be starting this school experience in a few years. I did learn something in my final years of public school. It’s that the teachers will not teach your children how to find answers for themselves. Nor will they help them to be a creative person. They will only force them to conform to the system and teach what they are told to teach. This is fine for reading, writing, math, etc. But, to hold back a young mind with questions, who wants to know how the world really works is a horrible thing to do.
That leaves it up to the parents to guide the child in this way. To show them it is acceptable to ask questions and to find out the answers. To think outside the box. To search for better ways of doing things which may seem unorthodox to the conformed.
I’ll teach my kid to start asking his own questions when he starts school. If he gets in trouble, but can explain to me what he was trying to find. If he can explain the avenues he tried to follow. Then I will fight on his side to help him find the answers. It’s my job to get him past any authority figure that might be blocking his way to knowledge. It’s my job to teach him to be himself, don’t conform if you don’t want to, and…