Our elementary and middle school days were likely (hopefully) not our best. Here are a few reasons why.
1. Writing Limericks:
Don’t remember what a limerick is? It’s a five-line poem with the rhyme scheme AABBA that’s supposed to be dirty or funny. If that still means nothing to you, here’s an example:
There was a young man from Savannah
Who died in a curious manner:
He whittled a hole
In a telephone pole
And electrified his banana.
There’s a good chance your fourth grade teacher made you write limericks as part of a sad poetry unit, along with the acrostics, cinquains and diamantes. Don’t remember those, either? You’re probably better off. While a good limerick can show some humor, an elementary school classroom might not be the best place to look for it. Most 10-year-olds aren’t that funny. Take my own childhood limerick as an example:
There once was a moose named James,
Who always called others bad names;
But one day he’ll fall,
To Boris the Macaw,
And burst into fiery flames.
Yep. That’s the early work of an English and Writing double major who writes too many pointless ten-pagers. Are limericks worth teaching? Here’s the point that I’m reaching: Nope, they’re actually useless.
DARE, the acronym for Drug Abuse Resistance Education, was the unit of your health class you wanted to forget—and did. DARE. was the only class I ever actually fell asleep in. All I remember from DARE is a few slang words for heroin, wearing drunk goggles and the nonstop mouth twitching of the police officer that taught my class. I’m not really sure how we should learn about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, but it sure as shit isn’t from DARE In fact, most of what I know about drugs and alcohol comes from my or a friend’s experiences under the influence. No one took DARE seriously; on 4/20 the only kids wearing the anti-4/20 pins that they received in health class were stoners. That’s how you know. How is such a well-intentioned program so counterproductive? Maybe it’s the awful DARE theme song, which you should look up on YouTube immediately if you haven’t heard it before. Right now.
3. The President’s Challenge Physical Fitness Test
This was not only a waste of time, but mortifying. Before the test even started, the entire class knew who would suck and who wouldn’t. Blocked this one from your memory? The test consists of five activities: curl-ups, shuttle run, sit and reach, one-mile run and pull-ups. Every student in class is tested in each activity twice, and then ranked in a certain percentile based on national standards. (That’s right, kids; gym can’t be fun in America anymore, either.) After the test is completed, the teacher distributes congratulatory “Presidential” patches to a few cocky assholes in the 85th percentile, and “National” patches to a few more cocky assholes in the 50th percentile. The teacher gives certificates too, but every kid knows all that actually matters are the patches. Why is the test pointless, you ask? Isn’t physical activity important? Of course it is. But should we be pitted against each other in a class-wide competition when we’ll not only know who the winners will be from the start, but we’ll also be fooled into thinking it’s a talent to be better than 50 percent of the nation’s kids at touching our toes? I think not. Play dodgeball instead.
4. Different Types of Clouds
I’m going to assume there are some professions that require knowing every type of cloud that exists. I’m also going to assume that most people don’t have this profession. I can still to this day distinguish stratus and cirrus clouds, but this ability will actually never benefit my life. If schools insist on teaching us cloud types, teachers might as well try taking their classes out when the weather is tolerable. I have traumatic memories of forgetting my jacket when my seventh grade science class went out to look at the sky and shaking as I attempted to hear my teacher’s voice over the wind. The entire sky was monotonously overcast. How the hell were we supposed to distinguish a cloud’s shape when the whole sky was the same shade of gray? I remember my science teacher telling us we could predict the weather from looking at the clouds; for instance, she would say, a cumulonimbus cloud is often a sign of rain. You know how I see if it’s raining? I look out my fucking window to see if the sun is out. And no one had to teach me that one, either.