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Schools are terrible places for children.

In the name of civilization we lock up our children for seven to twelve hours each weekday..subjecting them to experiences that mark them for the rest of their lives...the least we could do is give them a fair chance and give them school when they have a choice, in college, where they can defend themselves.

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    Josh S

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    Mar 10 2013: Because some of us want to make something of our lives, and i have yet to find a single, sucesful person, who said theyre education was worthless (k-12 grades). Because without education, we are nothing. Thats why we make children go to school.
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      Mar 10 2013: It's not the popular thing to say. But you are right, Josh, that not very many educated people wish they hadn't gotten their educations. While people talk each other into the idea that schooling is worthless, those quietly getting a serious education, even when it is challenging and every day isn't full of praises, are the ones who will have the skills and insights to push the frontiers of their fields.
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        Mar 10 2013: I got very little education in public school. It is a terrible place! It is set up to be a mold in which to squash the creative thinking of little children into the mold of the current dominant culture.

        Fortunately good things can be found in school. Good teachers, resources, good friends....but school itself is set up to fulfill a need the world no longer has.

        Education and school are not the same thing!
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          Mar 10 2013: Sorry you had such a bad experience, Linda. It does vary so much from school to school.
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        Mar 15 2013: A good education is essential for life. This talk by Shane does touch upon a very important issue. Improvements need to be made EVERYWHERE because school is not the only place this happens. But schools are the best place for START implementing anti-bullying systems.
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          Mar 16 2013: Thank you, Juliette. There is indeed lots of room for improvement in schools to make sure they reach students who have different learning needs. But people's fixed images of what schools are is often tied very tightly to their particular schooling experiences and how well they personally were able to learn from the particular resources at hand.

          In fact schools vary widely in the pedagogies they have in place and even in how students are treated. Many assumptions ignore the variety. Some students learn easily in a variety of contexts and others shut down at the smallest obstacle.

          I agree that there is no place for bullying or intimidation in schools.
  • Mar 11 2013: I cannot fully be on your side nor can I refute you without compromising myself.

    Many schools in many places have systems that are not fully beneficial for the student to properly grow and learn as education is supposed to do. And all have ranking and hierarchal systems that make our students have struggle for competition and an innate hatred and contempt for those who do better. I am a student myself and I feel both worthless and angry when I see myself not receiving the marks I believe I could get. School is subjective; that is one of the major problems. The teacher decides upon the lessons and the things that are right, so students who find ther own way to do things, to come up with answers that work and solutions that are easier, are shot down for the traditional and "Scholarly" methods. Children beside other children are savages; we all are when young. We have no filter, no sense of morality, and no knowledge the effects we have on others. We simply see and react; often in horrible ways of supporting the alpha who makes the beta inferior and lets him or her know it.

    However, the ida of a forced education is not terrible. Hobbes said that without some social order, we would descend into unending conflict steming from greed and ignorance. This is true. This is partially the reason for higher crime rates in uneducated areas; they do what it takes to survive because society prevents them the luxury of living. Education, in our world, is the tool for life. No one has ever found a negative to education, simply to schools and people. Mostly people. We have to learn a bit of everything because the world is not two-dimensional. We cannot find work that requires only algebra, only chemistry, only writing, only speaking; they intermingle freely. That is partially why college fails, unlike you presume. We are taught singularly but the would is a place of multiples.

    School is NOT terrible. It is a benevolent idea, it has no capacity to be good or bad. We make it so.
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    Mar 11 2013: I have mixed feelings on your post. You begin with “we lock up our children for seven to twelve hours each weekday”. By this harsh verbiage this would imply that they are somehow criminals. This is truly not the case. In reality most children in civilized society are required to go to school but it is not to punish them. While in some cases just that occurs, it is not because of intent, it is because of outside and inside forces at work. These include teachers who have lost their way, for students who for some reason do not understand that they are talking to another, just as frustrated, human being, or for administrators that have lost track of the reason that they are there – to facilitate education and to provide a safe environment for them to learn.
    I agree that they are being subjected “to experiences that mark them for the rest of their lives” These are both positive and negative experiences. I, myself, was subject to many negative experiences while growing up. These many times were not because of anything that I did, or anything that I was, but just because I was. Does that mean that these unfortunate experiences marked me? – YES! Does that mean that I should let them define my existence? No. But they do because it was part of my past and part of what made me who I am today.
    There are cases where our students are not given a chance. These are failures for many. These include failures by the student themselves, their parents, the school educators and administrators, and society as a whole. One cannot pin it all onto one party. But as a society it is our job to first see a problem and then to fix it. I feel that it will not be something that will change overnight, but it must change.
    There are many that just like Shane, who have frustration in their past. They cannot allow their past to define their future. That is what he is talking about. We have survived, we have thrived both because of what happened and in spite of it.
  • Mar 20 2013: To be honest I really don't understand that last sentence. I'm not sure if you accidentally skipped a word or what, but anyway...
    I do agree that schools foster more abuse and trauma than learning or "social development." Regardless of the anti-bullying hype, the truth is that most schools don't do anything until a kid commits suicide. Then they mourn for a few weeks and act like things are going to change, but never actually take action to ensure that it does. I find this sickening to even admit, but the truth is, anti-bullying is a fad. We're all lifesaving heroes who are going to make a difference in the world for a few weeks after something horrible happens, but once the media finds a new story, nobody cares anymore.

    The most they'll do is run a nice little seminar or two. An inspirational speaker will visit the school and talk to the student body about the importance of loving each other, and as pretty as their words are, they don't do jack. I've sat through many such school assemblies and you know how much change I saw in my school? None. The only people who actually took something from the speech were those who weren't bullies anyway.

    Kids don't respond to kindness or flowery inspirational speeches, they respond to fear and to punishment. My school claimed to have a zero-tolerance bullying policy and I only wish they had actually stood behind it. Bullying should be punishable by expulsion. No lectures, no assemblies, no "kids will be kids", one strike and you are out. Maybe that will teach children to respect other human beings instead of putting them through so much emotional torture that they either commit suicide or go through the rest of their life bearing the mental and maybe even physical scars of the abuse.

    It's not a small matter, and it isn't a joke. So why do we treat it as something that can be fixed with a slap on the wrist?
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    Mar 11 2013: I think it depends. Sometime schools help you unlock your full potential, but sometimes it may not.
  • Mar 11 2013: Saying school is a "terrible place" may be a little extreme.

    I agree with you that children should have more choice in what they get to learn, but the idea that K-12 schooling as a whole is terrible is definitely untrue.

    The point of "forcing" kids to learn certain subjects when they are in middle and high school is for them to find their passions. How is one supposed to choose what they want to learn if they haven't been exposed to anything to choose from? There are some that realize they wish to go into the arts or science very young and they can choose specialized schools for that, but for the rest of the general population, "forced subjects" are needed.

    It is a shame however that grades are so important for one to get into college or seem intelligent, because the point really should be to learn rather than get a certain mark or appear well versed in everything. This is a factor I also have big problem with.

    As far as the social aspects of schooling making schooling terrible, bullies exist no matter where you go. They move from school hallways to high rise buildings, laboratories, etc. I'm not saying it is okay at all for children to experience bullying in schooling, but I'm simply saying that it shouldn't be the sole reason why kids shouldn't be forced to go to school since they will unfortunately experience it nearly everywhere no matter what they do.
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    Mar 10 2013: Well, school is a little dry, but it gives you skills you can use to have more fun ultimately.

    You might be interested in the masai people of kenya, they have done away with school, they do live very simply in dung huts, everybody herds cattle and they live on milk and beef. When you live simply like that, you might not need school.
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    Mar 10 2013: It is necessary for children to attend school, until they get adequate exposure about world out there. however, they too have to join the race.. Education should be in such a manner where pupils could interact and explore their ideas. whereby achieving the best outcome and could run the race smoother. so no matter, if its college or school... after all they only build the base, rest all we need to construct.. 'its better to be always a positive thinker'.
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    Mar 10 2013: Sharon,
    It seems like you are making a very broad statement, and I do not agree that "schools are terrible places for children". It depends on the school, the teachers, the parents, and the children. We all learn differently. I prefer hands on learning, and while I was impatient with the classroom setting, I cannot say that it was a "terrible place". Many people prefer classrooms, the structure of formal education, and thrive in that environment. Education in all forms can always be tweaked and improved:>)
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    Mar 10 2013: They are, certainly. First the children need to come to it, schools don't go to children. Next, they are forced to come to it while there are highly interesting things happening everywhere, butterflies fly over flowers, clouds make bears and lions in the sky, skateboards beg to be ridden, grannies stories need to be listened to. It sucks when you are sent to school.
    The whole things is so adultly boring. There is nothing other than chairs to sit, nothing other than same books to read and the most terrible thing is you cannot just leave and go home or play.
    And you know what, everybody reads the same book!
    Children have no rights. So unfair.
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    Mar 10 2013: It depends on the where the schools are... (that you are referring). I had a great schooling time, and I still have contact with my elementary/high school teachers, who played key roles in shaping my present (and future). The one thing that I agree with you might be what people do in schools. Nowadays, it's not the teachers nor the children that are important in schools --- it is rather focused at pleasing parents. Children are pounded with new things to learn and remember, when technology is making "fact-based-learning" obsolete. Before the advent of the Internet (in it's current form), schools were teaching children to "remember" facts and reproduce those facts in examinations. Now, Google can do all that. So, you idea is... when you can have a device that can remember all the facts, then why put years of effort on learning just a small portion of it? Instead, schools can teach children CREATIVITY -- how to make use of the information available to create new things -- in other innovation.

    Thank you.
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      Mar 10 2013: While I'm a fan of your post in general, we still come across the problem that you can find "fake facts" on the internet. It's sad when we live in a day and age where we so often confuse fact and fiction, but there you go. Evidenced by the extraordinarily large number of people in the US who think global warming is a myth made up by scientists to get everyone to be nice to the environment. They can even find you websites that support their theory. We've gotta learn some small portion of facts, so that we can understand and learn to spot these "fake facts." I think the inability to see BS for BS is a big part of Americas problem right now, and when we rely on google or internet solely for these facts, there is no way to gauge how much of it is BS.
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    Mar 10 2013: I'm a sophomore right now, and I am in between both of you. Josh is exclaiming that we must have the basic fundamentals to carry on in life, which I don't deny. However, Sharon, I can also see where your point is striving from. Right now, I'm learning in History the beginning of WWII, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, along with the thoughts running through General Kuribachi's mind. In Math, I'm learning how to divide, along with graphing, polynomials. In Science, I'm learning about the periodic table, and how to establish a polar compound versus a non-polar compound with the molar ratios. In English, We just finished reading Flags of Our Fathers, guiding us through the details of James Bradley, and his father's importance on the battle of Iwo Jima. I tend to think of myself as a young entrepreneur, as I brainstorm many ideas, along with the ability to share them through the employees of IBM. I am also really talented with numbers, which applies with my future job, an accountant, working for a friend of mine. From History, Iv'e learned that over time, history tends to repeat itself. In Science, I've learned how to propose a problem, and find a solution. In math, Iv'e learned how to solve different problems, which can be applied to day-to-day situations. In English, I've learned how to write in different formats and read thoroughly. But to be honest, Math is the only subject I look forward to every day. I have fun, and it's entertaining. In Science, I'm struggling with molar ratios and solubility ratios, which is dropping my GPA. In English, I have worked my ass of trying to finish a scrapbook on Harlon Block, a character in Flags of Our Fathers. While doing all of the work, missing track practices, and spending 60 dollars on supplies, I only received an 80 percent while my partner received an 85 percent, which dropped my GPA. My point is, I have a 96 percent in Algebra 2, while having lower grades in the rest of my classes, which affects my GPA. I feel I'm waisting time
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      Mar 15 2013: Sounds like you a great student. You are not wasting time!! You are doing the right things. Smarts means nothing without kindness. Finish school. Aim for a future in which you can walk more down the path called math :-) ( I can tell from your story that road has your name on it:-) I hope everyone at your school is watching TED Talks together and discussing them in class. And I am sure your teachers will become aware that when they create teams and partnerships of students, all team members get to share the same grade. Can you imagine team USA at the Olympics winning gold, but half of them be handed silver and bronze. I loved school and I loved my teachers. Keep going Chase!!
  • Mar 26 2013: I agree - I think a lot of the alternatve schooling systems (although people joke about homeschooled) are probably a lot better. I used to skive off a lot of school - not because I was dumb, but because I was bored. I think I was pretty bright, but also bright enough to know that working for a A grade average wasn't really worth it. Happy being a B/C student...and spending time at home doing my own thing.

    Certainly if the school had been better at encouraging creativity - rather than being a place of bullying, nasty teachers and mostly people who just didn't want to be there (and that was just the teachers) I'd probably have thrived better - certainly Foundation & University were better, although still academe has a real problem with myopic administration and resistance to new ideas...(ask my partner, an ex-Reader about that!)

    I mostly taught myself how to think by reading and questioning the world and adults. School was never about thinking, it was about conforming. Later education was more about thinking, but ironic as by then the damage is done, and no-one wants to break-out. Or even see why they should?

    You can blame it on the school, but it was a good school in a good area, very middle class. But it had no real soul, no art, no creativity and certainly I can say 95% of what I was taught I've either found to be actually wrong, useless or unhelpful. I get more education reading or talking to friends and partners and debating ideas than I ever did at school which was all about passing tests. Nothing more.

    I envy those other systems where you get to choose - in fact one of those early expermental schools - Peper Harrow was near where this school was. Sadly never got that far.
  • Mar 16 2013: Some really interesting points made, many of which i agree with!.But i do believe schools offer us much more than education! i would like to point out that at school i found life long friends, i discovered so much about the uniqueness of life, emotions and social situations, not from my teachers but from my friends and fellow class members. I also discovered love and beauty found in people and art and also developed respect and courtesy for myself and others. Yes i believe that schools can, and a lot of the time do dictate and project onto us the way they think we should act,learn and experience. But i believe at schools the interaction we have with our friends and pupils teach so much more about life than the teachers and the subjects will ever teach us. And yes to to an extent i agree with the qoute by Pabitra Mukhopadhyay that "children are taught by parents and peers to be future scientist, doctor or engineer - not an artist, a musician or a writer because these are 'risky' professions", but ultimately we reject this, the proof being we have writers and musicians. And i believe this shows for many, we ultimately learn to make or own choices and reject those that are pushed upon us. Thus through social interactions with classmates we can find inspiration, enthusiasm and valuable lessons to learn. So i guess in a round about way we still very much teach ourself.
    • Mar 27 2013: You may have been on the other end of the "peer group foodchain". I myself was stuck in the middle. I do not know how old you are nor do I know you as a person. But just because YOU didn't go through any hardship doesn't mean others didn't. Even your friends could have been the ones to inflict life long psychological harm to another without you even knowing or remembering. Does knowing that your friends which are so kind and loving to you had the potential to cause another the emotional pain which could quite possibly drive them to self-harm or even suicide make you still feel that school is a good place? im currently 18 years of age and live in Australia. Our education system works where primary school is done for 7 years and highschool is followed for a further 6. I dropped out at year 10. Why? because i was unhappy and little did i know i was suffering from depression for 3 of my highschool years. Bullying has caused me to resent myself not only for the way I appear but also for how I tried to conform just to fit in and avoid the harsh comments. I became a dickhead to try and sway their hate from me. I look back at the last 6 years and think, "Wow, i made the right choice. i can't believe how terrible that school was". I'm currently going down a different educational path and i have enrolled in a Diploma of graphic design course. BEST THING I HAVE EVER DONE. Everyone there keeps to themself. No need for hate or violence because we just want to do our work and leave. And going from highschool and trying to just fit in and survive, i have gone to further study and being myself with my friends. So long story short. Just because YOU have a great time in highschool doesn't mean that everybody else feels the same way.

      I'm not saying I disagree with you I'm just saying that you should try to look at things from a victims shoes...
      • Mar 27 2013: alex i am truly sorry if i have offended or annoyed you with my post, but at no point did i argue that people dont go through hardship and that everyone does have a good time in school that was not my argument at all. I was responding to those earlier on in this thread who discussed schools are worthless because they force upon us what they want and i was offering a point of view that there can be more to school than education. I really wasn't talking about peer groups, bullying etc. im sorry that you had such a rough ride its sad to hear,and sadly its common story, but im very glad you have found your path!!!Good luck course
      • Mar 27 2013: im meant to say ...good luck with the course
        • Apr 1 2013: its just how it came across to me as. I apologise if i have gone a little overboard, its just that this topic is one I feel quite strongly about.
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    Mar 11 2013: Let me share the Indian nightmare.
    Before a baby is born the parents flock the schools, learn the nursery rhymes that the babies never hear from their parents or grand parents in their native languages and plan life for the contingency. From as young as 2 years they are taken to play schools where half qualified unprofessional teachers systematically impair children's imagination, spontaneity and free mental growth.
    Then right from junior school children are taught by parents and peers to be future scientist, doctor or engineer - not an artist, a musician or a writer because these are 'risky' professions. The society cares a toot what the child wants.
    Into the senior school or grad study the child is already a edu-bot who is well trained to be a servant. For enlightened educated youth of India, working a job is all that matters and entrepreneurship is a big no-no.
    If a child survives the Indian Education system till the age of 24/25 the youth has an ego as high and static as the Everest and a keenness to conform almost to the point of obsession.
    Indian students are so intelligent that their brightness can only be properly appreciated in the USA or Europe and half billion near illiterate rural population are just not worthy enough of that brilliance.
    I hope Random Chance can take it a little less hard on his fellow men.
    • Mar 13 2013: Pabitra,
      could you please explain your comment,"I hope Random Chance can take it a little less hard on his fellow men."
      I'm not sure I understand to what you are referring.
      To me it seems that we are both saying the same thing, as you call yours, "the Indian nightmare."
      I may seem harsh but at times being honest and telling the truth is harsh.
      It is only humans who put good and bad with truth, when truth is simply the truth.

      It is still. The Truth.
      But, at times, the Truth,
      can be so ruthless, it appears truthless,
      But it is still the Truth.

      As George Orwell said, "
      In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act."

      I do strongly believe being successful in school in America is really about learning how to be successful in a corrupt system and that has to lead to becoming corrupt as an individual.
      That is just about the only way to be successful in such a system.
      There are less options every year for average folk to survive, grow and prosper, in safety, freedom, privacy and community. Today it is all about spying, training, specializing and so on.

      Where do you and I differ? Or do we? Maybe I am more dense than even I know.
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        Mar 13 2013: Of course I will.
        I mean to say that your countrymen are not alone as far as affected by a questionable education system, Indians, I feel, are suffering too.
        In essence we don't differ at all.
  • Mar 11 2013: Since they have to go, are forced to,
    and they are brainwashed into what to believe and how to behave,
    and educated in how to be successful in a corrupt system as opposed to
    being taught how to change or eliminate that corrupt system,
    then yes, they are horrible places for children.

    But, their parents have been so thoroughly brainwashed and threatened into subservience,
    that they will readily crow, "it's for the good of the children."
    They say that about most all the methods they use to abuse the psyches of their young children,
    beginning with religious upbringings and belief in entities that don't exist.
    Amerikans are big on teaching and passing on neurosis.
    They start with the Tooth Fairy, move on to the Easter Bunny, A big pumpkin, Santa Claus,
    Cupid and eventually the big one - God.
    Fits right in with everything that is happening today, being spied on 24/7 as in God is always watching you.
    And like little children, the parents do nothing when their kids are molested by TSA agents while they are being trained
    (educated) in what life will be like for them in the new Nazi Fascist Regime called Amerika.

    It's all for the good of the children so I would think your comments about school are a bit harsh.
    Let's not look at the reality of what is really happening.
    Some call that optimism instead of wanting the truth.
    • Mar 11 2013: Your point is unsupported. Children's psyches are not necessarily abused though I do agree they are brainwashed. It's not fair to look at religion as a cause of the problems because atheism and secularism can cause the same brainwashing but with the implications that life has no purpose other than living it. Religion, though I do not partake, can provide children with hope and joy if introduced and used properly (to say that there is someone or something out there that loves them fully and will forgive their mistakes). "Molested by TSA agents;" harsh to say the least but more false than true. Teachers and administrators are not government spies and many generally do care to educate, not school mind you but educate, and give people a chance. Yes education is biased; most things are. But at least it is gives children something to think about and ultimately, if school does its job, interpret for their own gain and understanding.

      What you call wanting for truth I feel is more pushing a conspiracy that has only few of it's points proven.
      • Mar 15 2013: Joseph.
        You do not consider brainwashing abuse? Why not?
        It is lying and lying turns a person against themselves, against their own instincts and senses, those very things we have complete when we are born, before they are abused by others.
        Babies and young children lack experience in how to use and gain trust in their own senses and instincts, which they are supposed to be able to trust. Turning a child against that is abuse.
        Consider: an animal that doesn't trust its own instincts will perish and will perish very soon as food for another animal.
        The human that doesn't trust its own instincts will become mentally ill and may go insane eventually.
        When you take a child's psyche and split it from itself, you are splitting the child from themselves and I consider that extreme child abuse.
        You said religion can provide children with hope but hope is another false concept among many that Americans worship. Believing in and worshiping lies (neurosis) is to be mentally ill. Why one would do such a thing is based in a society that is also sick.
        "Molested by TSA agents" is not harsh at all. That is exactly what has happened and will continue to happen. May I frisk your young children, please?" They may exhibit terrorist features that I need to thoroughly check on, without you protecting them. Imagine how that also abuses the child who undergoes it and those who witness it? They are learning what Fascism is like, what it looks like and how it will feel.
        You end with: "What you call wanting for truth I feel is more pushing a conspiracy that has only few of it's points proven."
        Quote George Bush: "We cannot wait for the final proof." Well, we got the final proof. There never were any WMD's. Never. I do not trust any thing any authority says today, unless they prove it. If you do, then I think you are a willing fool who does not want, nor value truth because of what it means and what it demands: action, change.
        With people in America, who think as you do, they are doomed. IMHO
        • Mar 16 2013: Okay. Since you clearly know all the problems, how do we fix it? What, if anything, in your pessimistic opinion can we do?
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    Mar 10 2013: Sharon, I can neither defend or deny your statement that schools are terrible places for children nor will I try. However, I do believe that it is easier to build on "good" information / habits that it would be to "unteach" bad information / habits. Say, as an example that at home you are taught that blonds have more fun and redheads like to fight, and other generalizations ... You have been taught this from your youth until you go to college, as Sharon has suggested, this is where you begin your education. How long would it take to convience you that all you have learned is wrong and now surplant it with correct information.

    When new electronics come out my grandkids pick it up almost immediately while I at a older age struggle. They have less obstructions to learning such as preconcieved notions. If I introduced English, Spanish, and French into the house and you are exposed to them at birth ... you would speak all three. However if I bring them into your home at your age of seventy it would be a hard task indeed to learn all three languages.

    By waiting until college age to begin the process we would impose a handicap that would be extremely difficult to overcome.

    Schools are neither good or bad. Schools simply provide instructors that expose you to an opportunity to learn. We each have good and bad experiences associated with schools. It is what we make of the opportunities that decide who we become and what we make of ourselves. Blaming schools or others for our woes is not a resolution. We are the masters of our fate.

    I wish you well. Bob.
  • Mar 10 2013: sir, i need to ask you a question.??