July 15, 2008

Work Like a Dog

Filed under: 100 Days of Summer,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 11:32 pm

1. Make students work like dogs
2. Make students work like dogs even more
3. Make students work like dogs still more
4. ????
5. PROFIT!!!!!

So when I was at work earlier, was after hours but a few of us still there, my coworker (he’s Chinese, which I mention because it’ll be relevant in a sec) got to chatting with me and other coworker (Indian) and talked about all the activities his kids usually do over the summers. Usually they were stuck into all kinds of summer camps and whatnot. Basically, their summers are just as if not more busy than the school year. Coworker went on talking happily about it, even saying that if they weren’t, they’d just be indoors sitting in front of the TV or a video game. He went on to mention that this year he might not do the summer camps but instead get them into some kind of tutoring for math and English. At this point, I asked how old his kids were, and he said they’re 9 and 11. I didn’t ask whether their grades were subpar or anything to have merited the tutoring, but from how the conversation continued, I figured otherwise. Tutoring was not for improvement of grades. It was to keep up studying momentum, to keep the flow of studying and homework going. Hell, not even to necessarily speed up the kids’ progress in the subjects. Just to keep them doing it in general.

After they each mentioned how their summers were in their respective childhoods and respective countries, with my Indian coworker saying she had one month off in the summer, a week off for some big holiday in October, and another week off at Christmas, and the Chinese one saying they got a month or so off but only because it was too expensive to worry about air conditioning the schools in the summer (no idea what the truth of that is, but well beside the point), that I decided to speak up, ever so benignly. Obviously I wanted to speak up several times during all this, but decided against it as it was one of those times where you do your cause more good by staying quiet and listening to what the others are saying, to understand the mindset and all better, than hearing your own self talk about something that’ll fall on deaf ears anyway. I was like “it’s such a shame these kids have to be worked like dogs so much instead of just having fun and enjoying themselves on their time off.” I didn’t mean to be offensive, but didn’t worry about that, as I was thinking that if I didn’t offend… good, and if I did… good. LOL.

Didn’t seem offended, but he felt the need to assure me he wasn’t “slave driving” his kids as much as it might sound, that they were still given time to watch TV and play games and relax and all, just that there were other obligations in there. He went on to mention how India, China, Korea, and other places were very set on keeping their kids studying always and working always because of the highly competitive worldwide work force and labor.

And that’s when it hit me. It’s something we all already know, but just one of those times where the true reality of something you already know sets in on you, and you feel its meaning.

Students are worked like dogs because it’s profitable. Children playing and laughing and being carefree might be something adults think they enjoy and may imply to each other that’s the ideal as to not look like heartless monsters, but the fact is, children having fun does no good for anyone (except the children themselves, of course, but nobody truly gives two shits about that). To most, it’s annoying and unproductive. Unless, of course, that happiness can be somehow exploited into being productive via toy sales and such. I used to see ads on TV encouraging allowing children to have play time and have fun and all… sponsored by the American Toy Association of course.

Other than that, they are kept always doing homework, always studying, and if they aren’t, they are doing some extracurricular activities they may not even be interested in in order to boost their resumes (what every 7yo child needs, an impressive resume!). Basically, in a world where “childhood” is trying to be extended as long as possible, it is simultaneously to be destroyed as soon as possible.

Not to mention the insistent message to the youth that they must become the best of the best, that if they aren’t lawyers, doctors, professors, leaders, CEOs, or any other highly respected and/or highly paid workers, then they are failures. Why? They know most of their students won’t be one of these “great” careers. But instead they can work them to death making them think they must be so “great”.

School isn’t for actual education, as we all know. It can be, as this varies from student to student, but the real reason is to train good worker bees. I mean, why do you go to college? For an education, sure, but an education with the intended end result of a good career. That’s why in many cases, it doesn’t even matter what you majored in so long as you graduated, since that means you did the work, you worked yourself long and hard because your superiors gave the word. With the extra emphasis on the dire need that students be the best at everything, they are told they must go to college or die, then there’s at least four extra years of back breaking work as well as steadily raising the age of entering the work force.

Why learn so many different subjects when you won’t need most of them? Well, aside from perhaps needing it later, being able to work like a dog successfully in a variety of different subjects only creates an even better worker, more versatile. Will you remember what you learn? Hell no. But that’s beside the point anyway. Learning information beyond the immediate class and any for which it is prerequisite is hardly the idea.

There’s so many different ways to go with this, but what it comes down to is what we’re all really up against here. We’re up against inertia, complacency, and far above all, selfishness. And by selfishness, I don’t just mean anti-youth bigotry. I mean what, in a variety of ways, the powers that be have to gain by keeping kids inferior and worked like dogs. A society where students have more educational choice and only go to school if they want to sounds wonderful to us, but to our economy, it’s a nightmare.

So the question we have to ask is not what good a freer education is for students altogether, but what good is does for all of society, all of the country. What good is it for the powers that be? Why should they want things changed? The good of the students? They don’t give a shit about that. What’s in it for THEM? It’s an even harder question because we’re not talking about one solid force here but the collective force of millions of leaders and executives and consumers, each with ever so slightly varying views on the subject, each with different specific interests, and very few with even the slightest inkling of there being a problem at all.

What I gathered from my coworker is that not only did he want his kids getting involved in all this stuff, but in a sense, he didn’t have much choice.

This has been Day 53 of the 100 Days of Summer, Round 8.


  1. Asian societies put a strong emphasis on scholastic achievement, too.

    Comment by Agnapostate — July 16, 2008 @ 2:29 am

  2. Parents should not be allowed to nonconsentually donate their child’s organs.

    Comment by Junulo — July 21, 2008 @ 4:49 pm

  3. I clicked a link in your NYRA sig and found this. I like! 🙂

    Comment by SoulRiser — July 21, 2008 @ 4:53 pm

  4. One disagreement: you actually learn things at college, at least if you go into a science. College homework is usually not mandatory and apropos to the subject being learned. You choose the topic you want to learn, and you learn things that you can’t learn anywhere else. Maybe it’s different if you study a humanity or art, but I wouldn’t know. I just know that my Physics classes are actually necessary to work at Fermilab or LHC, rather than just work filler.

    Comment by Jessica — July 27, 2008 @ 5:55 pm

  5. Yeah, I’ll give you that. I majored in biology and that is for the most part true.

    Comment by Katrina — July 27, 2008 @ 8:17 pm

  6. I would be dubious about the claim that college work is not “mandatory.” In a heavily stratified society in which the working class inhabits the lower rungs of society, college work is “mandatory” if one wishes to have any sort of meaningful and financially stable life.

    Comment by Agnapostate — October 2, 2008 @ 10:10 pm

  7. […] this is something I’ve talked about before. But even beyond what I wrote there, it goes so much […]

    Pingback by Sure, Why Not? » Education Policy — August 27, 2012 @ 10:21 pm

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