Thursday, September 22, 2005

Why I Don't Make Babies

Theyhave the testing scores of all local elementary schools in the newspaper today. Eddystone actually didn’t do that bad. %41 were considered “advanced” in math with %0 being considered “below average” (the only school in Ridley to do so). Reading wasn’t as good, only %16 were considered advanced, but reading was down all over the region. Woodlyn was by far the worst in Ridley with %29 above average in math and %9 in reading.

Of course, the schools along the main line are another story, many have %70 to %80 of their kids above average. While schools in the Chester Upland district were under %10 for math and reading. That is a lot of disparity in a relatively small area.

So what is it that makes the big difference? My hypothesis is breakfast. The kids that do better are eating breakfast.

But seriously, I wonder a lot about that difference. I’m sure that there is a direct correlation to the percentage of parents that went to college, but that may be just a result of the mysterious underlying cause. Some kids are coached ab ovo to take these tests and do well on them. I think even if most parents in Eddystone wanted to do that, they would not have the ability to do so, because they don’t have the information needed themselves (both the knowledge of the subjects and just as importantly, knowledge of the intricacies of the academic system.)

For instance my mother was extremely supportive of my academic interests, but she did not know where to place the emphasis – meaning she didn’t force-feed me the stuff that would be on these tests. If I wanted to know about the Titanic (not on the exams I assume) at the expense of my math knowledge, she would support that. I’m glad it turned out that way. But other parents know how to play the game – and they do. So what is the right thing for the parent do? Allow the child to pursue their interests at the cost of test scores? Who knows. What I do know is that we should all be very skeptical of any wishy washy “follow your dreams” “grades don’t matter” popular wisdom because depending on what you want to do, grades may determine the course of your life.

The total results are here.


amber* leigh said...

I don't think that the problem with poor areas having low test scores has anything to do with the level of education that the parents' have, I think it directly correlates with how much interest they have in their child's education. Most of those people are either crackheads who don't give a shit about their kids anyway or they might be working two jobs trying to get bills paid and just don't have enough time to devote to their kids. You were lucky enough to have your mom to support your educational interests. Some people just don't have that benefit.

I also disagree that following your dreams is a bad idea. I had an opportunity to go to college right out of high school and do that, but I decided to slack off and hang out with Andrew. Sometimes I think about what things would have been like if I had kept on with my plans, but I really think that my relationship with Andrew is worth any knowledge about astrophysics that I was planning on learning. And what better time to slack off than when you're young? You've got your whole life ahead of you and you can always go back to school. There's the subject of how much money that you make after you have your paper that assures people that you went to school for 20 years, but some people don't care enough about money to dedicate that kind of time to it.

Also, some people just aren't built for going to school like that. Some people aren't book smart. They are mechanics or painters or air conditioner repairmen or something and I think they're just as important as any doctor or adminstrative executive or whatever.

I say this stuff because I'm a strong believer in the "wishy-washy follow your dreams, grades don't matter" wisdom. My kids might not inherit the same interests as me, but I'm not going to assume that I'm better than them or that they should go against something that they want just because I don't understand them.

B. Kriplur said...

You misunderstood. I didn't touch on many of those topics, and I said grades matter "depending on what you want to do."

When I said the “follow your dreams thing” I meant it in a restrictive way. I was referring to the comments professors make to you college about not worrying about grades, not in the larger sense of doing what you actually want to do.

I, and some other people like the Keenans, have come to the conclusion that college is a tremendous waste in most cases. The first thing I learned when I got into the job market was that a college diploma is almost worthless without contacts and job hunting skills.

My parents are both blue collar, and they drilled the notion into my head that hands on work is lower than white collar work. Working a job like my dad’s was never an option to me. I had to do “better.” But what I have figured out is that most white collar jobs are bullshit and low paying, and to get one of the higher paying ones, you need more than a college degree, you need to be raised in that society (there are obviously exceptions). I have also figured out that you can not only make just as much money in many cases, but you have so much more freedom in a blue collar job. It is true that my dad works in a hot, greasy dangerous environment, but at the same time he does OK money wise, and he has a lot more freedom than the average white collar worker. When I go to school I cannot be myself. I cannot curse, I cannot make jokes that are even remotely unpolitically correct, I cannot dress how I really want to dress (i.e., ‘tallica shit and same pair of dickies every day.”

The ONLY reason I am in law school is that I feel like I have passed the point of no return. I was seriously thinking about learning a trade, but it feels like it is already too late (and now that I have borrowed the money, it is). Just ask Andrew about the crisis I had in the week leading up to law school. This is the same reason why Mark is going to be carpenter. I don’t think for a second that a degree and some mid level white collar job that is a little better than the one you have now would have made your life better; not for a second.

That notion that parents still believe in led me to spend four years of my youth in a place I despised. Four years of alienation and despair, just so I could get out and stuff envelopes at AIG.

So kind of take this entry to be targeted for people already in the high to college to job machine, not on a universal level.

amber* leigh said...

This is the problem with blogging your thoughts... misunderstandings happen. :P And if I see you over here again, you better be wearing a 'tallica shirt. The only white collar man I know of that really loves his job is Business. President and CEO of the Business Company. And he worked his way up from the mail room! I often think about stuff like that, like how people don't "work their way up" anymore. Companies hire goons to do the shit work and then when they need someone to manage things, they hire someone off the street with a degree instead of someone who knows the job inside and out. It sucks, but that's the way it goes now. Andrew's mom worked her way up. It's only been one generation since that option has been closed. That's weird to think about..

What trade were you interested in looking into?