Why Our Schools are Failing Us

Recently, there have been a lot of changes to the American education system. We are now competing against other countries to get better test scores. As a teacher, I believe that some of the demands the government is enforcing in the education system is kind of ridiculous. When I was a student in high school though, I could easily see one thing that could be changed. And that was having better teachers.

            In high school, I took two advanced placement classes. The one class was known to be very difficult. I was ranked at the top of my class and I had my doubts that I would be able to keep my rank with this class. I was hoping to achieve an A in the class but after all the comments I had heard about it, I would have also accepted a B.

            The class involved a lot of work which was all very difficult. Everyday, we would begin class with a bell ringer. Once we discussed the bell ringer, we would discuss questions from the reading assigned the day before. Then, we would be assigned more reading and questions for that night. On top of that, we were constantly working on some kind of essay or extremely large project that was due in a couple weeks. Finally, we were also reading a book of our choice that applied to the subject and writing a long book report as well as doing some other large projects that were due at the end of the semester.

            Every so often, we would have a test. The tests were very hard. For some people, this class was the first time they ever had to study. I had been studying for years and even I was finding the tests difficult. It got so that a few days before the test, I would reread the entire chapter and then go through my review questions and bell ringers frequently. There was always a review session the morning of the test that many of my classmates would attend. The tests were difficult because he would take questions directly from old AP tests.

            Right before the AP test, we were having daily review sessions as well as going through our old tests and review questions. I was pretty confident after the test that I had done pretty well and sure enough, I had. I scored a four on the test. All of my hard work as well as my teacher’s preparation had really helped me.

            My other advanced placement class was a joke though. I had had this teacher the year before and she spent the entire class period on her computer while we worked quietly on our assignments. This AP class was no different. It fact, we probably learned even less than the year before. We would spend the first twenty minutes of class discussing various topics, none of which were class related. After about twenty minutes, one of my classmates would decide that it was time to get to work. As a class, we would read aloud our novel and discuss. Our teacher would work at her computer unless we had a question. It took us three months to complete that novel because after we read most of it in class, we watched two different versions of the movie and completed a paper.

            One time, we took a test over something we read and everyone failed. My teacher bumped up our grades and said that we all failed because the test had AP questions on it and that we weren’t ready for that yet.

            We complained to the administration that we weren’t learning anything. We said that the regular class was doing more than we were. My teacher talked to us later and said the reason we didn’t have many assignments was because we were busy with our other advanced placement class and that the assignments she gave us were bigger than the assignments she gave her other class. Sill, I wasn’t feeling very confident when I got done taking the AP test. And sure enough, I only got a two.

            Maybe American students are lacking in test scores compared to other countries. But has the government even stepped into a school to see how things can be changed? Right now, America needs great teachers so that all students can excel.


Will You Watch the Dog?

About a month ago, my grandparents told me that they were going out of town for the weekend and needed someone to watch their dog. It would involve arriving at their house sometime on Friday and staying until sometime on Sunday. I am not a dog person and really did not want to give up my whole weekend but I agreed to do it because it was my grandparents.


I had forgotten that something was going on that weekend and I was not pleased that I had to miss out to watch the dog.


As the weekend approached, I began dreading it. I knew it was going to be a boring weekend at my grandparents’ house. I would be all by myself and expected to make meals out of whatever they happened to have in the kitchen. I would have to find someway to entertain myself for forty eight hours.


Friday morning, my grandma called and said that my grandpa was sick so they were staying home. They might try to go the next weekend and if I was free, that would be great but if I was not, than they would put the dog in a kennel. I was not pleased that I had cancelled my plans for that weekend for nothing but relieved that I was free from watching the dog.


Over the next few days, my dad was constantly asking me if I would watch the dog the next weekend. I had not made my plans official but I was thinking about going to my friend’s graduation. I would not be able to watch the dog. I was annoyed that just because I said once that I would watch the dog that it would be carried over to another weekend.


My grandparents did not end up going that weekend and I went to the graduation (I would have gone to the graduation even if they had decided to go and then would not have been able to watch the dog).


A couple weeks after that, they asked me again. I had already made possible plans with a friend and told them that I probably would not be able to watch the dog. They called me the next day and said they were not going to be leaving for awhile.


I do have a life. And while I agreed to watch the dog one weekend, I cannot be expected to continue dropping my plans until my grandparents finally do go.

Women Clothing

My parents are very conservative when it comes to clothing. I have had to be very careful how I dress because otherwise, they will criticize my clothing. And really, I am pretty conservative myself. I do not like to wear clothing that is very revealing or will make me feel uncomfortable. But my parents are much more conservative than me. I remember one time my dad got after me for a t-shirt that I was wearing. He said it was too small. It was a perfect fit.


It is difficult to watch TV and not have my mom criticize the clothing the girls are wearing. We were watching a parade on TV once and my mom was constantly talking about how the girls twirling flags were dressed. She complained about how big some of the girls were and how small their outfits were. Then, she talked about how they must be cold because of how revealing their outfits were.


I know in the Bible it says that women should dress conservatively. I totally agree. I also believe that today, some people really do not care so they wear clothing that is very revealing. We live in a different world today. I am not saying that I agree with that though. Women should still have standards.

You Can’t See the Stars

People that have grown up in the city never want to leave. But then, people who have grown up in the country can’t stand the city. I live in a small town with a population of about three thousand. There is only one stoplight and everybody knows every one in town as well as their business. There isn’t a lot to do in town so if we want to go to Walmart or do anything fun, we have to drive thirty five miles to the city. This summer, I decided to move to the city to work. It was quite the experience. Now that I have experienced living in both a small town and the city, I must say that I could live in either one. There are positives and negatives to both.

            Driving in the city is quite different. I couldn’t go anywhere without going through several stoplights. And they weren’t like the stoplights I was used to. There were several stoplights at each intersection and sometimes you had to turn left or go straight, depending on what lane you were in. A part of me really liked the stoplights because you knew when to go, unlike in a small town when the person on the right is supposed to go first (that doesn’t always happen). What I didn’t like about all the stoplights is that I had to stop all the time. When I came back home, I found that I didn’t know how to drive in a small town anymore. I wanted to stop at every intersection.

            It is easy to see why there needs to be so many stoplights though. There are so many more businesses in the city. If I wanted to go to Walmart, it only took me about five minutes to get there. There were so many places I could get to in just a few minutes. And there were so many different options for each business. There were so many restaurants within a couple of blocks. I had to laugh because there were two McDonalds within about two or three streets. There is only one McDonalds in my hometown and we have that one because we are along the interstate. Also, the movie theatre showed several different movie options at the same time. And they showed them all for more then one week. I just loved all the business options the city offered.

            With all those businesses and stoplights, there is so much extra light. It makes it hard to see the stars. Every night, I would look out my window and only see a dark, orangish glare created from all the city lights. I had always taken the stars for granted. I didn’t realize that so many people don’t have the opportunity to enjoy them like I do.

            There certainly are a lot of people in the city. At church, there were several people that realized I was new there. But there were also so many people there that I never had the opportunity to meet. They probably didn’t even realize that I was new to the church. At home, I recognize nearly everybody at church. When someone new walks in the door, everybody knows it. It is a nice thing though. Everybody cares about everybody. At the same time however, it is nice to meet new people but also not know everything about them. People deserve to have some privacy in their lives. That is a little difficult to have in a small town that loves to gossip.

            I was sad to leave the city and all the shopping options. I was also glad to come home and see all the people that I have known for nearly all my life. The city certainly does have a lot to offer, but so does a small town. It is hard for me to say which one is better.

You Said You Would Call

The other day, my friend sent me a Facebook message saying that she wanted to call me that night and asked when would be a good time. I prefer phone calls to be spontaneous but I figured she must really have wanted to talk to me and she wanted to make sure I would answer my phone. I responded that anytime that night worked and she sent back another message saying that she would call between seven and eight. I was not sure how she would even have time to call because her Facebook post said that she had four papers to write but since she sent me the message, I figured she would make time.


I found plenty to do while waiting for her phone call. It is a good thing I did not just sit around waiting for her to call because she never did. I was actually looking forward to her call and was very disappointed when she never did. That is why phone calls should be spontaneous. With unplanned phone calls, there is no hope or disappointment.

The Woman That Freaked Out

One day this summer at the amusement park, I was working a water ride, helping guests get off the ride. I noticed a woman in line that was not wearing shoes so I alerted the assistant that was doing loading and she politely let the guest know that shoes were required. The woman was not very pleased and made some comments but since she had her shoes in her hands, I am not sure why she was complaining so much. It was not like she had to get out of line to get her shoes.

Once the ride was over, the woman just hung out in the station. We cannot allow that because it becomes too crowded and dangerous for employees and other guests. The same assistant asked the woman to please exit and that is when the woman flipped out. She said several swear words and started yelling that the assistant needed to change her attitude. A supervisor just happened to be close by so we alerted him and he talked to the woman.

The woman came back later and she was a completely different person. She was all friendly and willing to follow the rules.

I am still confused by her behavior. There was no reason for her to flip out. She was given very simple requests and she was asked politely. There was also no reason for her to swear, especially in front of a little girl that I am guessing was her daughter.



Writing and Depression

I don’t know how I figured out that there is a link between people that like to write and depression but there is. In fact, writing is one of the top ten professions which people will suffer from depression. Since I am a writer that suffers from depression, I can see why there is a connection.

            Most writers are introverted, quiet people, just like me. They often spend a lot of time in isolation. I don’t like to share much with anyone, not even my best friend. Instead, I write my secrets in a diary. The diary doesn’t give advice though.

            Writing also involves digging into yourself. There are things I have learned about myself just through writing fiction. I don’t know a lot about psychology but I think if psychologists were to read all that I write, they might learn some interesting things about me. Sometimes, I do write about events that really happened to me but I do make some changes so that these events fit into my fictional writing. Sometimes, these events are painful to relive.

            As a writer, I also tend to live in my head or in an imaginary world. I am often envious of the lives I create for my characters. I spend a lot of time living their lives rather than my own. But how else am I going to write good fiction if I don’t try to understand my characters.

            Writers are also filled with a lot of self doubt. They doubt whether what they are writing is something people will want to read. I have often gotten halfway through writing something only to doubt whether it is any good. I thought it was a good idea at the beginning but than I change my mind. It can be difficult to finish something at that point.

            Finally, writers don’t get much exercise and spend a lot of time staring at computer screens. Both these things can contribute to depression. The computer is a necessary tool to a writer though. Sure, we can write by hand but a computer can do so much more. First of all, a computer can protect your work (if it is backed up). Second, a computer can correct spelling and grammar. And third a computer has more functions then a piece of paper and a pen. You have access to different fonts and tools that can help with the final product.

            Writing is a tough life. It may be causing my depression, but it is also making me happy. I don’t want to give up my writing.


Why I Do Not Drink

That day, I either talked to my friends personally or on Facebook and invited them to my room that evening. We had cupcakes and we talked about our summer and our first few days of classes. Then, everyone left to go do homework. That was my twenty first birthday. I had chosen how I was going to celebrate and I was perfectly happy with what had happened. One of my friends thought I should go out and have at least one drink but I refused. It is my life and I get to decide how to live it.


Besides wine at church, I have never consumed alcohol. I do not want to either. It is a personal decision that I have made and I am sticking to it. I do not care what people think. I have my reasons.


My friend thinks that I do not drink because my parents don’t. She says that is why she does drink because she has seen her parents drinking her whole life. I really do not think my decision has anything to do with my parents. They have never really expressed their opinions on drinking. And I have seen my dad drink on occasion to be polite.


The main reason I do not drink though is because it is not the Christian thing to do. I know they drank wine in Biblical times but they did not have the resources we had today to ensure clean water or to have other options of beverages. Drinking can lead to bad decisions and as a Christian, I do not want to put myself in those kind of situations by drinking. Besides, drinking in the United States in usually associated with getting drunk or horrible parties. That is not true of all drinkers but it is more than just a dinner custom as it is in other countries.


Another reason I do not drink is because it is expensive. I have better things to do with my money. I want my money to go towards things that will make good memories. All alcohol buys is foggy memories and regret.


The last reason I do not drink is because I am afraid that I could possibly become an alcoholic. It does not run in my family but I do suffer from depression. What happens if I use drinking to take away my pain? I already have a cutting addiction to help with the pain. I do not need another addiction.


I am not afraid to admit that I have never consumed alcohol. I stand firmly by my decision. I know some people think that because I do not drink that I do not like people that do drink. I have nothing against people drinking occasionally and having one or two drinks. Not drinking is something only for me.

Why I Blog

A couple years ago, I had a college instructor that told me he wished I had spoke up more in class because he wanted to hear my opinions. I had to laugh. I am a very opinionated person. I choose to rarely share my opinions because I do not want to offend anyone or have people judge me. That is why I choose to blog.


Through my blog, I can write about my opinions and not worry about offending anyone. I do not know the people reading the blogs. But I would know the people that I personally talked with about my opinions. People that decide to read my blogs are reading them by their own choice and therefore, it is not my problem how they respond.


Another reason I choose to blog is because there are some things that I just do not feel comfortable talking about in person with people that know me. Depression and cutting are things I do not talk about. Very few people know that I struggle with depression and absolutely no one knows that I cut. Through my blogs, I feel all right talking about those things since I do not know them. I also want people to know about my struggles. But I do not want people that know me to judge me.


The final reason I blog is because I love to write. Again, I want to share what I write with others but I do not want people I know to read my writing. I do not want them to try to give me their opinions on my writing. I do not want them questioning why I write a lot about mental illness. It is easier to share my writing with people I do not know.


My blogs are like my diary. But unlike my private diary, I am ok with sharing my blogs with people that I do not know. I am sharing my opinions and writing with others. That is why I choose to blog.

What I Learned in High School

As I look back at my high school career, I know I learned a lot. But now, I cannot remember most of what I learned. Today, I would not be able to help my brothers with their algebra or help them studying for a science test. Most of what I learned in high school made me a well rounded person but all the information I learned is not something that I have ever used so I have forgotten it.


In math, I learned how to find the measurements of angles and sides of triangles. I also memorized complicated formulas for solving something. Look around though. There are not a lot of triangles that need to be measured. And it is a little difficult to use complicated equations when I do not even know what their purpose is. My teacher used to tell us that we did not need to know algebra if we were going to go live in the mountains but I do not think I have used any algebra since I graduated.


In history, I learned about early civilizations and about important people in the world. I memorized dates and places. I know history is important so that we can learn from the past and not make the same mistakes. But there is just too much history to learn. And history is being made everyday. I would rather just learn about the most important events and then learn more about what is going on in the world today.


In English, I memorized lines from Romeo and Juliet. I read countless other stories and then answered long, complicated questions. I identified certain parts of speech in lots of sentences. The only time it helps that I have read Romeo and Juliet is when it is mentioned in pop culture. And it really does not help that I can identify parts of speech. I just write sentences and then edit them later until they sound perfect.


In government, I memorized the names of people in government even though when they appear on the news, their position is listed underneath their name. I looked at countless political cartoons and attended way more city council meetings than were necessary.


In science, I learned the kingdoms and orders of countless species only to forget them after the test. I made roller coasters out of folders and drew pictures of pulleys. The experiments were fun but I often had trouble seeing how they were educational.


I am not saying that everything I learned in high school was pointless. It all really depends on what a person wants to do with their life. And really, if schools want their students to remember the information taught, they need to find a way for students to use it in their personal lives rather than just at school. Otherwise, they will forget it just like I did after the test.