The school I went to was a four-storey concentration camp inside which teachers were free to slap you, cane you on the knuckles, and make you kneel down on the cold floor with your hands up, with someone spotting you to ensure your hands went up perfectly straight failing which you could expect objects such as a board duster, a wooden ruler or a fist coming toward you at high speeds.
Of course, we also did regular school stuff like learn history, sleep in history class and play a sport called WWF trump cards which entailed memorizing useful concepts such as chest size and weight of men who went by the names: The Undertaker (Chest: 50 inches), The Big Show (Weight: 500 lbs), and Bret the hitman heart (Rank #1).
Which reminds me: Education.
The education system is like a crumbling brick wall. We all talk about fixing it, but would much rather piss on it.
So, what’s wrong? Is it just teachers? Or should we just blame the whole system? Where does this system begin, and where does it end? And what role do you play in it?
This is a long discourse, the effects of which I have been oblivious to for most of my life. I was exposed to the depth of the problems only in the last few years as I saw more and more of my friends leave their jobs to go out into small towns to improve the standards of education there.
I wanted to get that out of the way first because what I have to offer here is like choosing the right colors for the small portion of the crumbling brick wall, a relatively privileged portion of the wall.
Like the school I went to.
Yeah, because in case you didn’t know — having teachers, even if they beat the shit out of you, and a real roof over your head is a privilege over 50% of the school-going populace in the country does not have.
Which leaves me with the remaining 50%. Schools like mine represent a significant portion of this half. Which is what makes this essay serious if not fundamental.
While I hope schools on this side have stopped treating children like Prisoners of War — I have a different bone to pick: When are schools going to grow the Rock up?
How long are schools going to get away with teaching only the most inane crap? How about grow some Brock Lesnar and talk about the real stuff?
(As you can see, I will be replacing plausible cuss words with names of my favorite WWF wrestlers.)
So, what are the real stuff?
To make and appreciate art is the essence of every memory you will form as an adult. So, you could fail in art class in school and it may not affect your overall grades, but as an adult, failing to appreciate art is like getting an F in life.
You don’t necessarily have to paint the next Guernica or write the next War & Peace, but you sure as heck need to be able to appreciate and understand the human effort and dedication that goes into art.
Art re-incarnates the past. And if you aren’t giving a flying John Cena about it in school, your school is only preparing you to sleep-walk through the most beautiful parts of adult life.
It’s time Art became a serious subject in schools.
This is art class. This class lasts your entire life. But for now, it’s an hour. The first hour of everyday: Sing. Dance. Draw. Paint. Speak in front of the class. Write a poem. Click pictures.
Make art. Make crappy art. Make good art. Make funny art. Make embarrassing art.
You are allowed to fail in this subject as much as you want, but you are not allowed to skip this class. You aren’t allowed to just sit and do nothing.
And you can’t ask someone else to do the work for you. Most of all, you are banned from using the word creative.
Also, if you mock or sneer at anyone trying something new, I will make you clean up pigeon shit for an entire day.
Make art, my little felons!
Screw sport. Let’s talk food. The teachers may not be the ideal poster boy/gal for a nutritious diet but if they had to cane you for something, it may as well be for all the crap you put in your mouth.
Obesity is not an epidemic. It’s a curriculum designed by neglectful ignorant idiots. To blame a child for being fat is like blaming him/her for not wanting to be a rocket scientist. Teachers are best positioned to educate kids about sugar, processed foods, and the role of food in mental health.
Let’s face it, most parents aren’t a plate of Mediterranean diet either. They would much rather get the kid a Happy meal than see her sad for a few hours.
Learning about food gives the kid a great incentive to both inspire and shame the parents each time s/he sees the parent mindlessly gorge the next box of chocolate cookies.
And also what a sweet comeback the kid now has each time s/he does something stupid.
“Sure I broke the TV, but you drink so much soda. My teacher tells me soda is sparking wee-wee and slowly breaks you down. I think we are even!”
If I were a teacher,
Hey kid, listen up. You are eating crap all right. Did you know soda is sparking wee-wee? Practice your food labels along with your math tables.
And if you are sad, you don’t need ice cream. Remember art? Do that.
And if anyone tells you that you can eat anything because you are a kid and this is the age to eat all the crap in the world, you have my approval to punch them on their face.
Let’s get to the bottom of this shit once and for all.
You are going to fall in love at school. No big deal. Call it that or call it placing an overly high level of importance on a human’s ephemeral external appearance and do all kinda dumb shit for that person based on that.
Falling in love is inevitable unless you are a nerd or a sociopath or a rock (not the wrestler). Also because you watch too many shitty movies. School is mostly where you will meet your first love. So you may as well not be a creep about it.
Of course, schools never get this. They offer the perfect crucible for creepy love. Guess how my teachers punished me for talking in class? They made me sit in between two girls!
The assumption was a boy would have no one to talk to if he were wedged between two girls. Schools sure as heck know how to give romance a twist.
The problems with segregation and shaming around the opposite gender have to be taught at school. Not to mention, the vilification of same-gender flames.
This is not Sex-ed. This is there’s-more-to-love-than-sex Ed.
The guys should be taught that girls are fellow humans and not beings put on earth as a cure for their desperation. The guys should be taught love has another name and it’s called respect.
Girls should be taught guys are not all creepy dorks drooling over them and saying hi to a guy is no big deal.
Guys should be taught stalking is not perseverance and doing it through an app only makes them shadier than they already are.
Girls should be taught guys are extremely terrified of being shamed and embarrassed and over-compensate for that by doing dumb crap like faking an injury or driving too fast. The best thing to do here is to call them out on their bullshit instead of assembling a small army of teachers, parents, and pets.
They should both all be taught about consent, boundaries, and the fact that 50% of all first relationships fail. Okay, maybe not the last one.
If I were a teacher,
I would make them watch all nine seasons of “How I met your mother” and watch them slowly fall apart in disappointment.
This is not about sharing food and shit like that.
This is about what friendship really means. This is every school’s single greatest function. Of teaching you how to become a half-decent human being. This is about empathy, sensitivity, and attention. It’s about being comfortable with emotions.
It’s about Friendship. This is the real Triple H-ing deal.
Friendship undoubtedly is the hardest thing to teach. But it’s more pertinent now more than ever.
Because we need to overcome the contrived artifice known as the Friend Request.
You request someone to lower their voice or close the window shades or flush the toilet, not be your Rey Mysterio-ing friend. This is really important, so bear with my teacher rant.
If I were a teacher,
Being a friend is not the same as friendship. Being a friend is easy, but friendship is hard work. That is the whole point of coming to school. For me to teach you, over and over again, that you get to go out into the world and be human.
And that humans get hurt. And that it doesn’t matter if the human is girl or boy. That it’s okay to cry. That it’s okay to not have anything to say to someone when they cry. That sitting by them is enough. That a hug is the most unsullied form of human expression.
That your mom and dad will be your oldest, truest friends. That you shouldn’t forget this as you grow old. That the love of your life will not last if it’s not built on friendship. That sometimes you will be a shitty friend. That the soul of friendship is forgiveness.
That friendships are sometimes weird. That friendship can remain even as friends move on. That we are all going to die. And that the only thing we’ll leave behind are stories. And great stories are born out of great friendships. That friendship is purest form of herosim.
That not everyone got as lucky as you. That the real heroes are those that go out there are serve and teach and bring change. That you will miss paying attention to these people because you have a warped understanding of what it means to be heroic.
And that your teacher – I – am allowed to hunt you down and kick your facebooking ass if you forget all this after you get out of school.
That’s it: Art, Food, Love, and Friendship. There’s money too, and I wouldn’t really teach that. Instead, I’ll just ensure they perform one thankless job after another and ask them to hand over all their earnings to support this blog.
I am lucky to have gone to the kind of school I went to. Despite the occasional savagery, I have only fond memories of my time there.
As time goes on, life becomes a blur of perfunctory insignificance. More than half the things you remember (and go on to do) will involve the first fifteen years.
If you get to teach or influence a policy or contribute to education, you should know you have the ability to make human lives stone-cold-steve-austining memorable. It will take a lot of courage. Like creating anything beautiful does.
That was a long post. Calls for a celebration: