Most people would have just figured I was stuck with the bad math teacher and the bad French teacher. My mother did not make this assumption, and she thought I had no business being a class which was neither useful nor enjoyable.
Given that switching to another teacher was not an option because a) no other math teacher taught a class which fit my schedule and b) there was only one French teacher in the school, my mother asked the question: do I really need to take these classes?
It turns out I could test out of these classes. I took the final exam for the math class, got a C, and thus got into the next level of math class … which landed me with the same bad math teacher again. However, it was an improvement, since I was with a different student group who managed to make the class mildly entertaining with their sense of humor.
I actually didn’t mind the first year of French so much, since I started not knowing French at all, and through my own efforts to study on my own (at first with the textbook, and later with resources such as French in Action. The teacher mostly let me ignore the class and do my own studying in a corner, as long as was studying French. However, by the second year, I was tired of this.
Well, it turns out that I only needed to take 1 year of a foreign language to get a high school diploma, and I already had that. The school only told us we should study a foreign language for 2-3 years because universities required that for admission (at my high school it was assumed most students would go to university after high school graduation). But there was a way around this – I could take the SAT Subject Test in a language such as French instead, and if I got a high score, the universities wouldn’t mind that I only took one year of French in high school. And the SAT French test I took only tests reading – and it’s multiple choice.
Thus I got out of second year French, and since I didn’t put any other class in that slot in the schedule, I got to come to school at 9:20 AM instead of 8 AM on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Sleeping in for the win!
All of these experiences no doubt contributed to my cynicism towards formal education. At the same time, I also appreciate that my high school was set up in such as way – partially by accident, partially by design – to push students to shape their own education to some degree, rather than acting like passive receptacles of knowledge.
Storytime is over. In the next post, I’ll get back to the topic of compulsory sexuality.