Updated

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2013/10/09

Intelligence

Math question for everyone to try:  What is 365.25 divided by 7?  Did you know the answer immediately?  I did.  It is 52 and 1.25/7ths (also known as 5/28ths).  Before you say that it is because I am a math teacher, I want to remind you that 365.25 is the number of days in a year and 7 is the number of days in a week.  Looking at this scenario, I am actually asking how many weeks are there in a year.  Oh, there are 52 weeks and 1.25 days in every year.  I already knew that, but it didn't have anything to do with math.

I am writing here to speak on the topic of intellect, why I think the word is incorrectly used today, and how I think it ought to be.  Ok, topic sentence out of the way, now to write a body paragraph on each thing I listed and then copy pasta my topic sentence into a conclusion paragraph with a fancy quote and I will get an A.

Intellect is not the accumulation of facts, I am pretty sure most people would agree with that.  Ironically though, that is how our society treats it in the most literal of senses.  We compare students by asking them to read a book and tell you what was in it, learn skill and repeat it when asked, and prepare themselves with a few skills we decided they ought to know.  The ones who remember the details and use the algebraic skills are the ones we rank highest.  Since this is not a hard task, we push them to do it faster or take more on while memorizing their rotes and mastering their forms.

To return to the example at hand, I asked a math question, 365.25/7.  Our academic community cuts the connection between subjects, but real intellect does not.  This question ought to be seen by an English lover as "how can we break 365 and a quarter days into 7 equal groups?"  One way to answer is that you can't do it evenly.  You can break 364 into 52 even sets of 7.  This leaves the extra 1.25 days leftover to split evenly between the 7 groups, thus the fraction 1.25/7 since that is literally what I just said in English.  This mathematical and English literary solution is just one way to find the answer.  Relating the numbers to days and years is yet another!  Are there more?  Without any doubt in my mind, there are infinitely many ways.

We praise thinking outside the box, yet the boxes are only there because we put them there.  Music class and Math class are separated by soul-chilling bells and taught as two different universes.  It takes over 12 years of being told to sit down and do as you are told to forget the world without boxes.  Why do we do this?  We should instead be encouraging questions: why are there 365.25 days in a year?  What is a quarter of a day?  Why do we even have 7 days in a week?  What could or might be better and why?  How has this historically or literarily affected us?  These are the questions that breed intellect; curiousity and interconnectedness, without exactitude and unable to be labeled, these questions are for you and that is what makes them important.

In conclusion, tl;dr, however you want to say it, schools are not here to teach.  They are here to subvert.  The hidden curriculum of learning to do in order to please those above you permeates the system.  The extension of school beyond high school to create boxes within boxes and ensnare bright minds into perpetual debt.  This is why my soul screams for me to speak.  Are there great things about school?  Absolutely yes.  Can it still be a great experience?  Everything can be.  The human spirit is infallible in that respect.  Read A Man's Search for Meaning by Victor Ko-somethingorother and remember that his words and psychology would not exist without his experience in a concentration camp through WW2.  Hell, I am even using the 5 paragraph paper structure drilled into students as an acceptable essay.  Is it useful?  Yeah.  Is it the only way to write?  ...  ...  Good question.  Let's find out together.  Not because anyone is telling us to, but because I am curious.