It’s a lie, it’s all been one great big fat lie! I don’t know what to believe anymore! My inner self-worth has been annihilated, any resemblance of an ego obliterated and then there is the whole trust issue! Yeah that’s right I said it, T R U S T….. How on earth am I to trust anymore? Huh? Huh? What? Yeah I know, its like impossible now!
Maybe I better go back to the beginning.
(flashback mode) diddledoooo, diddleeeedooo, diddleeeedoooooo
Fourth grade and Mrs Schultz asks: Betty what do you want to be when you grow up? Now first of all its a really nice Norman Rockwell image but COME ON!!! What kid in fourth grade truly knows what they want to be when they grow up!
I throw out the only answer that comes to mind. Now before I tell you let me just preface by saying these where the days of TV shows like B.J. and the bear, White line fever and of course my personal favorite Smokey and the Bandit! “10-4 good buddy, come on back you got the Schoolboy 9 on this end!”
So if you havent guessed it, my choice of all the wonderful far-fetched career paths to be pie eyed and moon struck over was that of the truck driver! 18 wheels, coast to coast, my adventures would be never-ending. Hauling materials to those in need and maybe even solving crime along the way. My truck was going to be a cab over Kenworth (red) with more chrome than a 57 Chevy! Yep I had it all figured out.
Unfortunately Mrs Schultz didn’t see it that way. For as soon as I spun my web of fantasy over the 18 wheeler I then heard from her terse red lips the common denominator that would haunt me for the rest of my educational experience. A truck driver? Are you kidding me? Son this is America, where you can be what ever you wish to become. A smart kid like you could be a doctor, or scientist, a policeman, fireman or heck if you work hard enough at it one day maybe even the President of the United States! Apparently according to everyone elses standards becoming a truck driver did not fall into the parameters of becoming what ever you want in America!
So whats a lad to do? I did what any other young man in my position would do, I tried to become everything but a truck driver. Farm hand, dishwasher, construction worker, salesman, cowman, delivery driver, dairyman and so on. You know what? I hadn’t become educated at all. I struggled all through school, I was never tested to see if I had a learning disability or if the courses were above my comprehension level. Always scolded for poor grades and reminded by my parents alongside administrators that with a little more effort maybe I would amount to something. Reminded constantly that in America you can be what ever you wish, as long as it isn’t a dishwasher or farm hand, construction worker, salesman, cowman, dairyman etc…. All the things I actually enjoyed doing.
When high school was over it felt as though a giant burden had been lifted from my soul. No more daily disappointment, no more struggling through classes, trying as hard as I could only to receive a C or D grade. I didn’t graduate with my class, I finished at a community college over the summer, testing and passing my GED with outstanding scores in every subject! Confusing huh? Either way I had that paper in hand, and it was time for me to enter the world, where I worked as a construction worker, dairyman, car salesman, cowman and overall farm hand. I was happy. It suited me, I didn’t make any money but I also didn’t care. My family was confused with my choices, these jobs to them had no future, no means of long-term sustenance. It wasnt what parents wanted for their children in America! Nope, here in the states anyone can be anything and do what ever they choose. Want to be a doctor? Just find the funding, go to school and whala! You are a doctor, revered by all who see you and the talk of every mothers book club! She must be so proud! He works on a dairy? Oh honey I am so sorry he let you all down. (must be a sign of poor parenting)
I finally got the nerve one day to ask my boss if I could drive his 10 wheel tank truck. He said yes and after two years of hard work, long hours and very few days off I earned the opportunity (key word being “opportunity”)to get behind the wheel of his 18 wheel hay truck. A few more long days of practicing backing it up, moving it around the dairy both loaded and unloaded and before long-wait for it-wait for it- have you guessed yet? THATS RIGHT MRS. SCHULTZ I WAS DRIVING A SEMI-TRUCK ALL OVER NORTHERN CALIFORNIA!!!! WHOOP WHOOP! She was blue and chrome and covered in shiny aluminum and she was all mine!!!
I spent ten years driving hay trucks, logging over a million miles. When I decided the dream wasnt all it had been cracked up to be (no crime fighting you know) I went back to school and after 5 years of working 90 hour work weeks, volunteering at one fire department while working part-time on Sundays (the only day off I had) I landed a full-time gig as a firefighter for the department I continue to work for to this day 18 years later.
So I am sure you are scratching your head wondering where the lie is? Betty acquired a respectable job after all? What the heck?
Today I am surrounded by children of all ages. Helping at schools, my wife being a teacher, having taught High School Fire Science for 5 years, 4-H, FFA etc… And what I see scares me. Scares me to the very core of my being, and because of this lie perpetrated upon myself and generations of children it is only going to get worse. I see children walking around with their heads full of shit! I see a school system developed to check the boxes, not explore the possibilities, I see bright inquisitive minds molded, compressed, held back, all to meet a systems ideal of how children should be taught. As if all minds worked exactly the same, all brains absorbed information at the same rate, all eyes see exactly the same information you the teacher have so carefully placed upon the school board.
When I look into a classroom or gaze upon a group at practice it’s so obvious there little gears are all turning at different levels. Ask them to perform, if you are truly paying attention then you will see one maybe two get it the first time, three-nine get it the second time and 3-5 are still processing with one or two so utterly lost they use humor or anger to hide their mistrust of the educational system, coaching and the adults who have lied to them all along.
Why are we as a society standing by, allowing this to happen? We preach children are our future then walk away, dropping the most precious soul we have at the school door hoping a state-run system will prepare them for the world! The United States ranks 17 in the world for education. That is 17th out of 40 countries, I am sorry not everyone gets a trophy on this one people! Wake up! Our children are learning how to check the boxes, they no longer have the ability to think for themselves, they need multiple choice answers to make an attempt at anything and I am sorry if this pisses anyone off but why aren’t we testing them early to determine what they ARE good at instead of filling their heads with shit! Lying to them constantly by telling them its ok, you can be what ever you want to be! Just try harder next time! No matter how hard you try or don’t try, everyone will get a trophy, everyone will get our prescribed education, everyone needs to understand you can have what ever you want or need because you are an educated American which leaves you automatically entitled to it all!
How much better would our society be if all children were tested, thusly developing a plan to educate them accordingly. Children from 1-12 grade would develop a stronger sense of pride through accomplished work. Work that not only do they have the ability to understand but actually excel at! WOW what a concept! Educators knowing who has the mental acuity to thrive in college bringing our countries A game to the highest level. Educators also knowing who will thrive in trade schools and wow what a difference they will make with workers proud of their jobs, bringing careers to the highest of levels because they have found success through hard work and understanding of the processes associated with these career choices.
Listen I know it’s not that simple, but I also know whats happening now is not working. It didn’t work when I was a child and it surely isn’t working with 30 years of revisions. I spent the better part of my childhood ashamed that I was stupid, terrified of tests (something I still struggle with as an adult) and mentally not prepared for the world by my parents or my teachers. To this day I feel lost when I can’t figure something out, ashamed to ask for help, in fear of being reminded of just how dumb I really am. Why? Because that’s the education system I was raised in, told to sink or swim, toe the line or be towed, then patted on the head and reminded I can be what ever I want to be! It was all a lie.
You cannot be anything you wish to be, and a society that frowns upon those who wish to become part of the blue-collar group is a society destined for failure through the creation of uninspired and lazy human beings. Chastising them will only push them away from what they love, not teaching them the basics of blue-collar work and cheering their successes will only develop more animosity and hatred towards society. At some point a person tires of hearing how their choices are a failure and they just quit. It’s an ugly circle and you can see its effects daily in the news.
On the flip side how many children who are naturally quiet, reserved and fearful of the monster that is our 40 child classroom one way of learning educational system are freaking geniuses? How many undiscovered talents quietly sulk in the rear of classrooms across this country because fear keeps them from learning? Future Mensa card holders never to discovered due to a system that would never find them.
Lets stop the lie. Lets go back to fostering young minds, drawing out creativity, celebrating the individual, and developing unashamed, caring human beings filled with knowledge, empathy and love.
So yes today I finally figured out it was all a lie and no matter how hard I try I am not going to become the President of the United States, but if we could just become fifth in the world of education, then maybe everyone can have a trophy….
“A young head filled with shit, will eventually become an older self entitled shit which in turn will blossom into an adult piece of shit! Useless to themselves and society as a whole because they just dont give a shit.”