I Don’t Give High School Enough Credit

If you mention the New World Order people will give you odd stares and might even label you a “conspiracy theorist.” However, it must’ve been important because my AP U.S. History teacher gave us a handout with extracts from President George H.W. Bush’s “New World Order” speech laying out the plans for a multinational approach to global power and obtaining resources in the Middle East.

This speech was one of many treasures I found while cleaning my room and going through old high school papers. Hindsight is a funny thing.

I hated high school but now if someone told me I could take a class where we learned how to file Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and look over COINTELPRO documents I’d be the first to sign up.

It’s not like I was a bad student. I got As and Bs while taking honors and AP courses but I swear I sleepwalked through those four years of my life (I actually fell asleep as a judge in a Supreme Court simulation). The point of going through old papers was to clear space but soon I realized that my old study guides, essays and handouts would actually be real useful.

There’s something refreshing about role playing as a “Zionist Jew” in Model United Nations. It adds more engaging context to news articles and debates on the Israeli occupation. Although at the time I probably didn’t notice.

So why is everything I studied in high school so much more interesting now that I’ve been through college?

It could be because the University of Oregon allowed me the independent study time to find what really intrigued me about learning. When knowledge became fun outside of the classroom is when I started internalizing what I was learning.

Although I feel like I’m much more informed today, all I have to do is look through old work to see I’ve had political awareness and analysis mixed with sarcasm for years.

It makes me smile reading one of my scripts featuring Saddam Hussein, George H.W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Dan Quayle and Pat Robertson conversing.

Chances are I’ve probably forgot more than I’ve learned since high school.

As nice as it sounds to say that I’m keeping a thick packet of landmark Supreme Court cases for my children’s knowledge, the truth is I need it for myself.

There came a point during junior high when my parents could no longer help me with my math homework and I could never understand why but looking at the amount of information I’ve forgot in a mere four years is frightening.

However, I see it as an opportunity.

It’s never too late to re-learn. There’s a scene in Spike Lee’s Malcolm X where Malcolm sits with a man in prison and reads every word in the dictionary. The man tells him it’s important so he can use the white man’s words against him (If you want to find something interesting look up “black” in the dictionary). What’s even more important than the revolutionary message of the scene is that it teaches you that you can learn from any and everything.

Although I might not have appreciated every lesson in high school, as I get older I realize that there is practical application for everything from the story of Alexander Hamilton to the permeability of rocks.

When I think about how much I didn’t internalize in high school I think it’s because I didn’t see learning as fun or as important as it is. Sometimes it takes outside forces to flip the switch in a kid’s mind. I definitely benefited from seeing rappers and cartoons like The Boondocks as well as slightly older dudes actually apply things like law and current events to life.

At the least, by re-learning some of this essential knowledge, I can provide another outside resource for kids who were sleepwalking like I once was.

*Author’s note: Much love to Mr. Koepping, Mr. Gillespie, Mrs. Paxson, Mrs. Cochran, Mrs. Wirtz, Mr. Matthys, Mr. McNeal, Mr. Peri and everyone else who gave students indispensable knowledge even when we resisted it.

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2 Responses to “I Don’t Give High School Enough Credit”

  1. […] post by brucepoinsette var addthis_language = 'en'; Filed under Uncategorized This is not a test: I choose […]

  2. 4justice46 Says:

    I hope some of your former teachers will have the opportunity to read this piece.

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