Written by evan keliher

Thursday, 18 February 2010


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image for Grandpa Ganja's High School Survival Guide Ch. 1

The following is from my book Grandpa Ganja's High School Survival Guide. I propose to publish the entire book a chapter or two at a time. I'll stop if enough readers tell me to.

1. The Teachers
2. Exams (See Grades)
3. Grades
4. Cheating
5. Counselors
6. Teachers, Wanton
7. Classroom Seating
8. Clubs
9. Gym
10. Truancy
11. Holdups
12. Johns
13. Summer School
14. Sex Education
15. Homework
16. The Curriculum-An Overview
17. Weapons in School
18. Substitute Teachers
19. Prayer in School
20. Principals
21. Class Conduct
22. Hall Passes
23. Dating
24. Parent Conferences
25. Fire Drills
26. Lying
27. Parking
28. Extortion
29. Class Schedules
30. Candy Sales-Be an Entrepreneur
31. Cafeteria
32. Apple Polishers
33. Drugs
34. Hall Lockers
35. Senior Trips
36. The Prom
37. After Graduation-What?
38. Epilogue


As we all know, there are thousands of books out there telling you how to fix your own plumbing, get ahead in business, buy a used car, get laid, grow better house plants, and so on. These books are very useful, especially if you happen to have bad plumbing, need a promotion, are looking for a good used car, suffer from unrequited love, or have a lot of dead house plants on your hands. Useful as they are, though, most of them are written for older people who have jobs, plumbing and houses. What value are these books to the average high school student in America?

It's clear that what's needed is a book aimed at those of you who are still teenagers struggling with what everybody acknowledges is the most trying and difficult time in a person's life, i.e., the four (or more!) years a kid spends in an American high school.

You guys need a book that deals with the reality of being a teenager in high school today, a book that pulls no punches and doesn't beat around the well-known bush with a lot of bullshit designed to hoodwink you into believing the kind of pap usually provided by people who have a vested interest in deceiving you. In other words, you need this book.

It happens that there is no more qualified person in the country to write such a book than this author. I retired from Cody High School after spending more than thirty years teaching in this and other high schools in the city of Detroit where education is at its most challenging.

While I've seen school at its worst and dealt with every form of madness imaginable, I must admit that I've had little experience with so-called good schools where real students attend classes regularly and do their homework religiously and have unblemished complexions.

Accordingly, this book is necessarily written from a point of view provided by working with armed and dangerous students, seriously befuddled teachers, half-witted and usually incompetent administrators, unstable parents, and a central board of education inhabited entirely by lunatics and fatuous dopes.

The opinions are my own, the advice practical, the incidents real. If you're in high school now or are planning to go to high school anytime soon, or if you have kids in high school and want the inside dope on what's going on there, this book is for you. It may well mean the difference between surviving the whole experience in one piece and being crushed under the churning feet of the varsity football squad because you didn't know enough to get the hell out of the way.

Let's have at it then.


The Teachers

It helps to know the enemy. Forewarned is forearmed, as they say. Find out what makes them tick, how they think, where they're coming from, and you'll have that crucial edge needed to survive in the harsh world of high school.

Okay, where do teachers come from? They come from the middle class, that's where, and they're dripping with middle-class values. Teachers are against almost everything you think is fun, mostly because it's a lot of stuff they're no longer interested in themselves or because it's stuff they can no longer do.

For example, they're against beer drinking, cutting classes, dope smoking, getting laid, loitering, original hairstyles, slang, and all those things that take the dreariness out of life and make the whole business more tolerable. And they're determined that you won't do any of these things, either, at least not if they have anything to say about it.

The real problem is, of course, that most teachers are old-timers, people of another generation who never do see eye to eye with teenagers. This is especially true nowadays since most of the younger teachers were fired in the last several years when tax money disappeared in bunches and they started laying everybody off. Only old duffers kept their jobs and old people tend to be conservative and cynical because they've seen the world as it really is while young people are hopeful and optimistic because they haven't. You will have a lot of trouble between generations because the gap is real.

Anyway, nature has decreed the rivalry and you're stuck with it. Your only chance is to outsmart them, and to do that you'll need to use your head for something besides a hat rack-a feat not easily accomplished by most people.

We'll begin by taking a closer look at the aforementioned old-timers, a group conveniently divided into (a) senile old bats and (b) sharp, eagle-eyed old pros who ask no quarter and give none. It's easy to tell them apart: one is sane and the other obviously isn't.

The senile old bats include teachers of assorted races, creeds, and sexes, and are not restricted to female old bats even though they outnumber the men because there are more women teachers generally. Most of them have been teaching since World War II. Some of them were half mad from the start while others were driven mad by the system-the very same system that's driving you mad, I might add.

If you're looking for the easy way out, sign up for the classes taught by the senile old bats. You won't have to do any work in their classes because they'll never ask you to. They spend twenty minutes taking attendance and trying to establish some order (something they never succeed in doing) and the rest of the period mucking about with some formless lesson designed to kill the remaining time. As senile old bats are delighted when you do any work at all, it's easy to hand in a few copied assignments and a used book report and end up with an A or B.

You won't learn a thing in these classes, of course, but you won't do anything, either. A lot of jocks and bikers show up with the senile old bats, and all of the thugs and hooky players, too. The only problem you will have is trying to get a seat in these classes, as they fill up early.

A further consideration, of course, is that you'll spend the entire semester surrounded by some of the lowest IQs in Christendom and suffer nausea trying to breathe air polluted by the presence of bikers, a group widely known for being unfamiliar with soap.

The second group of old-timers, the sharp, eagle-eyed old pros, are a different story altogether. These old bats have been around as long as their senile colleagues, but the resemblance ends there. These dudes are old-timers who've kept their wits about them and actually gotten sharper over the years. You all know who they are; their reputations precede them. Everybody wants to avoid their classes if at all possible because these teachers will fail your ass and you know it. Many a kid has suffered the humiliation of being ordered off the stage at graduation time when one of these guys showed up with the last minute results of his final exam.

The old pros were good teachers when they were younger and they still are. They're tough disciplinarians, they don't put up with any crap. If you wrong them they'll pursue you to the ends of the Earth to see justice done. They run their classes with an iron fist and scowl a lot. They demand that you work like hell and they'll flunk you every time if you don't.

If you're actually interested in learning something, these are the teachers to take. And don't worry, there's always plenty of room in their classes.

©Evan Keliher

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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