Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com

Sunday, March 26, 2006

The Knowledge Seeker.

I needed out of the house. My brain was tired from writing cover letter/emails. A ubiquitous Starbucks is just down the road. If a chocolate mocha can't perk me up nothing would. I brought my latest book (something on foreclosures as I never read for fun anymore), the latest Indianapolis Monthly, and a few sections of the Sunday paper I hadn't quite gotten to yet.

The chair was comfy as I watched a business news channel on the large screen TV. The sound was off, but closed captioning was on. The story on how large SUVs were selling well was quite interesting. A girl (Any female under 25 now seems like a girl to me now. Geez I really am turning into the old man.) with a Starbucks uniform was discussing with someone on her phone how difficult the material she was studying was. I could see the thick book on her table, but it was open so I couldn't make out the title.

I continued reading and an on-duty employee asked her how she was doing with her studying. She said it was difficult and things were confusing. When she looked at the answers she had wrong the book didn't explain the correct answer very well. Again I couldn't tell what she was studying. After some time I turned around and simply asked her. The young woman, age 19 or 20, was studying for her GED.

The thick book was a series of practice tests, examples, and explanations. It reminded me of the MBE books I had last summer. She was working on editing sentences. I'll agree some of the practice questions were vague. I spent the next half hour or so assisting her with the questions she missed and trying to explain why the correct answers were indeed correct. I explained that standardized exams like the GED (or Boards, the LSAT, GRE, MCAT, SAT, and the Bar Exam) were as much an endurance race as they were something to test your knowledge. Some sections she would do well on and some she wouldn't. I hoped her editing skills would improve, but she could earn points on other sections as well.

She had pride in her work. If she got a wrong answer she wanted to know why she got it wrong. She dropped out before graduating high school. She and other kids like her thought school was a place to socialize, not learn. She was embarrassed when she didn't understand something and didn't want others to see she couldn't do a problem. It was a self-fulfilling problem. Fall behind and you can't catch up after awhile. Her mother didn't provide reinforcement for her education when she lived at home. The few people that tried to help her she refused to listen to. This one woman was a microcosm of everything I've seen these past few months in substitute teaching: the dark side of high school. Yet now she wanted to be more than what she was. She wanted to get her GED so she could go to college for interior design.

I hope she gets what she wants. I hoped I helped her a little bit.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.