I began to notice it in elementary school. As I stared at the whiteboard, anxiously tapping my pencil on my blank multiplication worksheet, I just couldn’t wrap my mind around it. I was a gifted student – not the type where your mom tells you that you’re special, but actually gifted – yet I couldn’t make heads nor tails of the boxes and lines on the board.
Since when did multiplication problems require boxes and dotted lines anyways?
The Lattice Method
That night, as I struggled with the same sheet of hieroglyphics at the dining room table, my father stood over me with a puzzled look on his face.
“Why can’t you just multiply it the normal way?” he would ask.
“My teacher calls that the ‘Mom ‘n’ Pop’ way. We’re not allowed to do that. We have to do the lattice method.” My father looked down at me, his blood pressure suddenly rising.
“It’s easy! Just do this!” He jotted a few notes on a sheet of paper as I watched over him, suddenly making sense of the symbols on the page. He had used the forbidden method! “Tell your teacher I said to do it this way. This Common Core stuff is crap.”
It wasn’t until college that I learned the political connotation of his statement.
However, my high school and college years weren’t much better. Replacing everyday subjects with political rants, my teachers were sure to mold our young minds for the political landscape. Math, science, English, and social studies were inundated with hidden statements and political lessons that most of us simply didn’t care about at the time.
In the ninth grade, my teacher required us to debate our healthcare views as he so conspicuously voiced his own. I think it is safe to say that most ninth graders don’t have very strong healthcare views! I went home that night and heard an earful from the parents.
This continued throughout my high school years, but most of us were not concerned.
…And Not So Sneaky
By my freshman year of college, I hated politics more than ever. Disillusioned by both parties and fed up with unsolicited opinions, I simply wanted to bide my time, learn the material, and go about my way. Little did I know that indoctrination would be more potent and more obvious than ever. One of my teachers was suspended for his inappropriate comments against Republicans, Fictional Writing classes turned into politics, and Anthropology became bash-the-Christians time. One of my teachers claimed that Russian Communism fared better than American democracy. I wanted to tell him to go to Russia.
Perhaps I should tell you what I don’t know. After twelve grades, four years of undergraduate school, and one year of graduate school, I still don’t know how to do my taxes without TurboTax. I can’t fix my car, and I didn’t learn to balance a checkbook until college. My degree left me jobless, and everything I learned was through self-study.
Oh, and I still hate politics.
My point? As a Millennial, the American education system failed me. According to the Washington Examiner, as of 2014 we were already behind South Korea, Poland, Japan, Germany, Canada, France, and many other countries in terms of proficiency scores (washingtonexaminer.com).
Maybe the Mom ‘n’ Pop way wasn’t so bad after all.