Dumbing Us Down

Once upon a time in Texas, my mom sat me down and said, “Son, I have something I need to tell you.”

I said, “What is it, Mamma?”

“Your carefree days spent running around the neighborhood from can-see to can’t-see are ‘bout over. Monday morning, two weeks from today, you start the first grade.” She handed me a small booklet. “This here is an introduction to the ABC’s and the goes-intos. Look it over and be quick. Ain’t much time left.”

I must have had a questioning look on my face because she followed up with, “Two goes into ten five times. The goes-intos. You’ll see.”

Well, it didn’t really happen that way, but the booklet was real. I was six. That’s when we started school in those days. Not at 3 or 4 years of age in pre-whatever. And you know what else? We went to school, not to test prep.

Oilfield types like myself must be certified in well control. We used to go every year. Now, the certification is good for two years. After attending 25 times over the past 37 years, in a dozen different settings in places like Singapore, Saudi Arabia, and the U.S., anymore, I’d rather sit through a root canal.

Well control school used to be taught—algebra, gas migration and expansion or lack of. Problem solving—the goes-intos and take-aways. Now it’s a test-prep. Here’s the question and here’s the formula you need. If you see this question, then give them this answer. Never mind the where, how, and why of it.

When I took the Master’s exam at the Coast Guard Station at New Orleans, I prepped for the test five long, miserable days, taking the same quizzes over and over and over and over until I scored 95%, (the minimum score the “school” recommended.) Test prep. Memorize the questions on the tests. One question I knew they, the school, had wrong. I told them it was wrong. They said, “Yeah, we know, but it’s wrong on the USCG exam, too. If you want to get the question right, you have to answer it with the wrong answer.”

What?

dumber 2

The government is involved in well control testing. The government is involved in, go figure, the United States Coast Guard. The government is involved in the schooling of our children. My grandkids, your grandkids, your kids, are taught to take a test.

I think, and this is just me a-pondering, this approach to education is dumbing us down.

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