January 31st, 2005

boy and his blob

"This story was dull and boring, so I didn't pay attention when I read it."

things i learned today by scoring 8th grade reading comprehension tests:
* "Never take a fat kid hiking."
* if you go hiking in heels, you will trip, fall backwards, and die. [tripping almost always causes one to die, or at least to break a bone. also, running inevitably leads to tripping]
* don't step on a loose rock, or you will roll down the mountain. also, the rock may fall off the mountain and hit people standing next to the mountain.
* children are not capable of doing anything on their own, including going to the bathroom or eating blueberries, because "they do not know what they do".
* being outside will murder you. anything and everything nature-related should be feared and avoided.
* children should never go anywhere alone. they also should never be in groups of greater than 5, "because they will play." [apparently playing is bad. they didn't say why, but i assume it will cause you to trip and fall and die]
* mt monadnock is absolutely infested with snakes.
* in 1820, wolves were eating the local farmers' sheep, so the farmers decided to SET THE MOUNTAIN ON FIRE. this killed off all the wolves, along with everything else on the top part of the mountain. it will be thousands of years before enough new soil builds up for trees to grow back in. [this one is actually true! though the kids seem to think it is an ongoing event]
* "Everything will be OK, because the book said everything will be OK."

i was honest-to-god warned against squirrels, chipmunks, and blueberries. they were saying how it's dangerous to go anywhere alone and you should always stay in your group and hold hands with your partner. these kids are in EIGHTH GRADE. if someone had told me that when i was in 8th grade, i would've been furious. i cannot even begin to imagine the worldview of these kids. they sound absolutely petrified of the outdoors. what do they think it's like out there? i am horrified on their behalf. what are they being taught? what a shitty thing to do to someone's childhood.
oh yes, and most of them got 1 point out of 4, because we are supposed to give a score of 1 for personal opinions not backed up by the text, and i guess thinking blueberries are poisonous and squirrels are possessed of hellfire count as opinions. the fat kid answer was given a 0 though, despite being one of the few vaguely reasonable answers we got. the subjectline also got a 0, despite clearly being the most intelligent answer. someone who is smart enough to know this is a useless article on a useless test, and is ballsy enough to follow through with that, is gonna go far. or get shot, i dunno.

disclaimer: the above list is - in my opinion - hilarious. at first i could barely read them, i was laughing so hard. why it started bothering me so much was how damned consistent it was. by the time you get the 100th kid talking about how rocks equal tripping equal death, you start wondering how much fun these kids ever manage to have. though i suppose they're all too busy playing grand theft auto and having sex and doing drugs to go outside. each generation has its own forms of amusement.

Father Guido Sarducci on the Five Minute University

a short angry history of american forced schooling by john gatto, former NY state teacher of the year

ALSO, reading all these damn things made me want to hike mt monadnock. i've been near it countless times, and hiked partway a few times, but i've never gone all the way up. when the world is less frozen, who wants in?
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