Torching Itself Nicely

Disaster Girl

In light of the ongoing discussion of the Prussian education model, my comment on Joseph Moore’s original Catholic Schools Week article would seem to merit its own post.

I attended Catholic schools from K-12, and my experience largely mirrors Mr. Moore’s. My schooling took place a generation after his, though. The last sisters were replaced with professional laywomen by the time I made it to junior high. By and large, the latter group were confused by and hated boys.

The ADD panic was just coming in when I started first grade. Thank God I had a good pediatrician who overruled my teachers and refused to pump me full of drugs for failing to act like a girl.

The rest went down pretty much as Mr. Moore said. With minimal effort, I aced every subject except for math–and for the same reason: I recall asking one math teacher why a particular operation was done a certain way when dividing fractions, and she couldn’t understand the question.

I was definitely among the 1% of nonconformist students. Never had many friends in my own age group (most were older). Holed up in the library whenever I could. Always had a nagging sense I didn’t belong there. All-school Masses were about the only times I felt like I was in the right place.

High school was worse than grade school. There were no nuns but quite a few non-Catholics on the faculty. The building itself was a fluorescent-lit concrete tomb with no windows–which Frank Herbert observed betrays hatred of children. I’ve been a night owl since I was twelve, and high school started an hour earlier than grade school. For all four years I spent first period struggling to stay awake. If you held a gun to my head and ordered me to tell you one piece of information I learned in high school outside a theology class, I doubt I could do it.

But like Mr. Moore, I quickly worked out the minimum amount of effort required, did that, and got mostly A’s–again, except for math. Again I’d use any excuse to hit the library.

I, too, went to a secular college out of high school, but the minimal effort trick worked for me there. I did go back to Catholic school for my MA in theology, though.

The whole education system needs to be burned down. Luckily, it’s currently torching itself nicely.

 -Adam Lane Smith

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