December 25, 2009

Article about Education

Earlier I took my sister to Christmas Eve mass in a snow plow. It's not a snow plow like the ones that clear the public roads; it's a Chevy Suburban with a blade attached to the front so it can move snow. While driving that contraption was an adventure, something more noteworthy happened after mass.

I was talking to this third grade boy and asked him how school was going. His response, "terrible." When I asked him how he would make it more fun, he replied, "have a Wii." Looks like Nintendo is doing a great job. I wonder if he's sincere about school being terrible or if that's just a popular attitude to convey. If he is being genuine, what turned him off school? What made learning boring? If I remember correctly, Kindergartners are thrilled to go to school. When did this third grader lose interest? I know this isn't an isolated incident because the phrase "school sucks" is repeated so often it's cliche. What is the cause of this sentiment?

Many institutions, including the government, seem to put a lot of weight on standardized tests to see how well teachers and learning institutes are performing. This seems to miss the core issue altogether. It doesn't matter what the scores reflect, if the majority of students don't want to learn, they are going to learn less than if they wanted to learn. Our primary goal with educational reform should be about getting children excited about learning. They'll learn more, they'll be happier, and society will be better for it.

March 25, 2009

Flash Fiction 1

I was walking back to my apartment from class. That morning I woke up late and couldn’t shower. I looked terrible and stunk. The people that walked past me sure noticed. I swore when I looked in their eyes, I could hear their thoughts.
What a scumbag.
God damn that guy fucking smells like shit.
I wonder if that’s a homeless person; he better stay away from me.
Dude’s so sketchy.
Good lord kid, learn to take a shower.

Maybe I had finally gone crazy. Regardless, I didn’t enjoy these thoughts entering my mind. I stopped making eye contact; that seemed to help. I continued walking until I came by a small crowd watching a game of three-card Monte. The man hosting the game asked for a contestant, and I volunteered.
“Minimum ante is ten dollars,” he told me. There was no money in my pockets. A man wearing a suit placed a hundred dollar bill on the table. “Alright, here’s the queen. Pick the queen and you win,” the host of the game said to me. He turned the queen facedown and started rearranging the cards. “Follow the queen, follow the queen, follow the queen,” he said as he quickly moved the cards. Then he stopped, “Where’s the queen?”
I had my eyes on the cards the entire time but couldn’t follow their movements. The small crowd chanted “Pick the middle one!” I looked up at host. Though his face was blank, his eyes were deviously smiling.
This is going wonderfully. I fooled them all. Everyone thinks it’s the center card. Nobody knows the queen is on the left.
I went along with the foreign thought. “Which card would you say is on the left?” I asked him. His eyes lost their flare.
What? He’s not going to pick the center card? It’s alright; I win as long as he doesn’t pick the card on my left.
“Left means the player’s left. Are you picking the left card?”
“No, the queen is the right card.” He flipped the card over, and it was indeed the queen; the strange thoughts were correct. The host was about to leave without paying me, but a policeman stopped him.
“Either you pay the kid or I arrest you,” the officer threatened. The host grudgingly paid me and left. I found the man in the suit and tried to return his one hundred dollar bill.
“That money is yours son. In fact, I want to have a meeting with you on Friday,” he said while pulling a business card out of his pocket. “Come to this address and give this card to the receptionist,” he said looking me in the eye. This young man is exactly the person I’ve been trying to find for months. “And here,” he said reaching into a different pocket. “Buy yourself a nice suit for our meeting,” he finished as he handed me a roll of one hundred dollar bills. There were thirty bills in the roll.