Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Education Confrontation Part 1

Yesterday my wife and I took our son to a pre-kindergarten information / evaluation session at the school he will probably be attending next fall. I promised my wife beforehand that I'd try to behave, and I'm pleased to report that for the most part I did.

The promise was necessary because I have, shall we say, serious reservations about the public educational system, and I'm not shy about voicing them. Which is to say that I think it's a complete disaster that needs to be bulldozed and started afresh if there's to be any hope for future generations. I could, and very well may, write much more about this, but that'll serve to convey the idea for now.

As we walked up the path to the school, I could feel my stomach tightening into knots. I realized that I'd almost rather sign my boy over to a seminary dedicated solely to indoctrinating him into the cults of secular humanism and socialism than this. Then I realized that there's no "rather" and no analogy about it: that's exactly what I am doing to him.

Fighting back the sickness I felt, we joined the small crowd of other parents and children standing by the school entrance. The scheduled starting time, 12:00 noon, came and went. I said to my wife, "Apparently punctuality isn't an issue at this school. If it's OK for them to start this session late, then it better be OK for our son to show up five minutes late for class every day." This was the first of many times throughout the day that she shushed me. I said I behaved myself, not that I had a personalityectomy that morning.

Before long, somebody (all bureaucrats look alike to me) came out of the school and suggested that we could go in to the office and take care of some of the administrative registration work while we waited. A few of us did.

My family were the last to finish up in the office. When we went back outside, we found that everyone else had gotten onto a nearby school bus and were receiving a presentation from the driver. We walked over to the bus and I rapped on the door. The driver opened it, and as we passed by her I said, "Thanks for waiting for us." Another shush from the Missus.

The only thing I took from the bus session was that school buses still don't have seat belts. I had thought that the school boards were all sued into compliance on that issue long ago, but apparently the one here got missed. That must mean that I don't need to put seat belts on children in my car either, right?

This brings me to a side tangent: I hate penny-ante bureaucracy for several reasons. One is the woefully incorrect assumption by power-drunk bureaucrats that they are somehow above the rules, regulations and petty morals that apply to everyone else. See, either seat belts improve safety and should be mandated, or not. There's no way that anyone can say (while maintaining any credibility or moral authority whatsoever) that I should be required to make children in my car wear seat belts (which I would anyway, law or no law - the legal coercion is what's at issue here) but it's fine for kids to be bouncing around loose on board a school bus. The second someone tries to justify this hypocrisy, no matter what desperate rationalizations they bring to the table, they go straight into my "Silly Person - To Be Ignored And / Or Mocked" file. It's pretty extensive, but still there is room.

Back to the bus. The session concluded, and I bit back the urge to respond to the call for questions by asking the driver to go back over the part we missed because of her starting without us. (She knew full well we were there, as did the bureaucrat who told her to go ahead and start while we were still - at the suggestion of the same or a similar bureaucrat - inside filling out useless paperwork.)

We went inside and handed our son over to some nice people in a gymnasium. My understanding is that they were to put him through his paces like a trained poodle while we were distracted elsewhere, to see what labels they can slap on him to get more money from the government. Luckily, we've trained him better than to cooperate with such shenanigans. I don't know exactly what they did (or tried to do) with him, though - more about that to come.

My wife and I sat in a classroom listening first to the school principal. She seemed very nice, reasonably intelligent, and fairly harmless overall. This makes my task of undermining her at every point of conflict more difficult. I hate having my enemies humanized. It's much easier to shred a faceless foe.

The presentations to the parents went far more smoothly than I had expected. The first problem I noted was that this school seems to think it's acceptable to send homework home with five-year-olds. Nope. My employer doesn't get to send homework home with me. If the job doesn't get done in the time they already pay me for, then either (A) I'm not pulling my weight and I get fired, or (B) they (not I) have a resource management problem. Since I very rarely get fired, (B) would be my gut instinct.

So, I doubt that I'll ever check my son's homework, or care if the school sends a note home about it not being done. (That note I'd just ignore. There are others I expect that, if sent, I'll return to them in such a way that they'll need a skilled proctologist to retrieve.)

Lesson for educational bureaucrats (and this is another reason why I hate the school system): you do not own the students. They are not your indentured servants. You have no claim on their time outside school hours. Get that through your tiny-but-remarkably-impenetrable skulls.

A case could be made for allowing homework at the high school level. University students do most of their serious work outside class hours, and so some homework while in high school may serve to prepare students for what lies ahead. However, that means it's only useful for those students who are going on to post-secondary education. There's no reason for the future career fry cooks to spend their own time finishing up what the teacher didn't plan well enough to cover during class time. (And the "homework" in university is an entirely separate proposition, because university is non-compulsory and paid for largely by the students. If you don't want to do independent academic work, don't go to university. The public K-12 school system has no comparable opt-out mechanism.)

The principal then gave an overview of a normal day in her school's kindergarten. They start off with the national anthem, of course, but she made a special point of going over the fact that students can be excused (I'm not sure whether they leave the room or just don't stand up) if they (or more accurately, their parents) wish.

I strongly suspect she made this emphasis because there was a kerfuffle last year over a New Brunswick student refusing to stand for the anthem. I'm not sure where all the chips from that incident ultimately fell, but I know that a whole lot of people were shocked to learn that "freedom" means more than just "freedom to conform", and there is no law, rule, or regulation requiring students to stand for the anthem. I'm glad there isn't, as you may have inferred from the swipe in the previous sentence. For the word "freedom" to be meaningful, it must include the right - the freedom - to disagree with you or me. Wherever there is freedom, there will always be people who exercise their freedom in ways of which others disapprove.

That being said, I always stand for the anthem, and my son has been taught to do the same. As his father, I have the right to mandate his behaviour to that degree. The state does not. I'm deeply concerned with the limits of state authority, even when I agree with their position.

The principal then told us something that really surprised me: they still recite the Lord's Prayer each morning. The same opt-out rule is in effect (again, as it should be).

The Lord's Prayer will certainly be nothing new to my son. I've taught it to him (although I don't think he's quite got it memorized) as I do my best to teach him the Scriptures and the ways of God. However, I'm not thrilled that it will be recited in his school each morning, for a few reasons.

First up, daily recitation of the Lord's Prayer risks making it something that's recited by rote without thinking about its meaning. This is, I freely confess, a problem for me as well. Many times I have recited it, thought, "There, that's prayer out of the way", and gone on my sinful way without a moment's reflection. I firmly believe, in the Protestant manner, that individualized prayer is far more meaningful. Making the Lord's Prayer a daily element of the school day may trivialize it.

Second, I'm a bit of an odd Evangelical in that I don't care much about school prayer. Students should be free to pray independently and non-disruptively, but I don't need or want it mandated by the state. My son will be taught prayer at home, not at school. The less input the state has into his spiritual formation, the better.

Third, it's empty lip service. By getting the students to recite some hollow words they aren't encouraged to think about, the school board gains a thin veneer of (illegitimate) defense against Christian criticism. The public school system as a whole certainly does teach a religion, and demand orthodoxy from its charges, as fervently as any parochial school or seminary: secular humanism (which most definitely is a comprehensive belief system - i.e., religion - regardless of any feeble claims to the contrary).

By throwing the bone of sticking the Lord's Prayer into the morning chaos, the state gains the ability to attempt to negate all accusations of anti-Christian teachings by whining, "But we say the Lord's Prayer every day! How can we be anti-Christian?" This gives them licence to preach as much secular humanism and involuntary socialism (more on that distinction another day, perhaps) as they like. The sad part is, this will work on a great many people. Bloggers and newspaper editors will say "There's no pleasing those nutty fundamentalists", and excuse the many other blatant sins being crammed down the throats of our children.

Fourth and finally, I don't want the state teaching religion to children. Not Christianity, not secular humanism, not Islam, not Flying Spaghetti Monsterism. Even if I were hoping for theocracy, which I'm definitely not, I would never trust the state to teach Christianity well, since they don't seem to be able to teach anything else well. As it stands, a frightening percentage of high school graduates are functionally illiterate. That only messes up the rest of their life. I wouldn't for a second trust the state to teach faith, where people could wind up eternally lost because of the incompetence of their teachers. Think about how many people you know personally who never read novels anymore because an insufferably arrogant English teacher put them off reading for the rest of their life. Now imagine people being repelled from Jesus the same way.

It was around this time (according to the notes I took) that I noticed the screen on which the principal was displaying her Powerpoint presentations - a wall-mounted, big-screen "smartboard" which served as a touch-sensitive monitor. She was advancing her slides by touching the corner of the screen, rather than using the connected PC directly. Very nice, very expensive technology. She said there is one of those boards in each classroom. I'm not sure whether she meant in the entire school, or just in the kindergarten classrooms, since they were the focus of the presentation. That aforementioned attached PC was ancient, as were all the computers I saw during our trip. I'm guessing most were early Pentium (probably under 1 GHz).

Then she talked about reading development. The school district uses a series of books that have each been designed to be at a specific level. Those levels are designated with the letters A through (at least) N, with A being the easiest to read and getting progressively more complicated from there. Their goal is that by the end of the kindergarten year, the kids will be able to read the A level books.

They passed around sample books, and the A level book had a page with a picture of a large cone of red ice cream, and the words "This is red ice cream." The principal stressed that the child may, at the A level, use the picture as a cue. In other words, at the A level they aren't going for actual reading so much as word/image association (which is a perfectly acceptable precursor to actual reading for those children who need it).

My wife and I found this pretty funny as a goal; our son could read more difficult passages than that well before his second birthday. We never pushed him at all. No flash card drills ever took place in our home. We just provided lots of books and toys with letters on them, set an example (his Mom and I both read constantly, including in front of him), and got out of his way.

When he was around 18 months old, he got a Fridge Phonics set - just the basic set, single capital letters only. The inside of our front door is metal, and a great spot to set up magnetic toys. He immediately went completely nuts for the Fridge Phonics and within a couple of weeks knew all the letters with their associated sounds, and was trying to spell every word he heard. Driving anywhere with him during that period was cute but a bit tedious, as he shouted out every letter (and very soon every word) he saw on road signs from the time we left the house until the time we got back.

By his second birthday he was reading lots of words, and by his third birthday he was reading pretty much anything he saw. We've been used to it for a long time, but it's still fun to watch strangers be surprised by it when he starts casually reading everything in sight when we go somewhere.

So, the A level books are clearly going to be no challenge whatsoever for him. We looked over the entire line that were available in the classroom, and the N books (highest level they had) might give him a bit of trouble. I doubt it, though. I only foresee him having to find out what a few new vocabulary words mean, and after he's told once, he'll have no further problems. That would be true for most ostensibly literate adults as well. Needing to occasionally look up the definition of an unfamiliar word is no indication of deficiency in reading ability.

On that topic, I recently purchased an illustrated dictionary for my son. Again, no pushing; I just thought he'd enjoy it. I was right. He immediately sat down with it and began browsing, fascinated. Now he learns a new word each day and we mark it on the calendar (this was as much his idea as ours). He learns the word, its pronunciation, its part of speech (he's fascinated by adjectives in particular for some reason - he frequently makes up original sentences and quizzes any nearby adult on which word in the sentence is an adjective), and how to use it in a sentence.

To make a long story short, I'm not particularly concerned about him being able to handle the academic demands of kindergarten.

There was plenty of blah-blah-blah that I'm not bothering with here. The next thing that stood out for me was the principal's statement that the hardest part of a kindergarten teacher's day is the end. Trying to get all the children onto the correct buses is apparently quite a logistic challenge. (My son shouldn't be a problem for them - the current plan is that my wife will drop him off each morning and pick him up at the end of each day.)

I see the principal's point, but she went too far and lost my sympathy. She talked about understanding that what with shift work, afterschool care programs that don't run every day, etc., a child may not go to the same place every day after school. However, that makes things much more complicated for the school staff. I understood, and agreed with her request that, if at all possible, a child's routine be left unchanged from day to day.

That is, I agreed the first time she said it.

The second time, I was OK with it, but thought, "Umm, you already said that."

By the fifth or so time that she whined through how it makes her job sooooo much harder when students take different buses occasionally, I had lost all sympathy. Like most bureaucrats, she has clearly lost track of who her clients are (in this case, the students and their parents) and that her role - her job, which she is paid to perform - is to serve them. I'll spell this point out as simply as possible for the benefit of her and any other like-minded individuals:

It is not my job to make your job easier.

As a general rule I won't go out of my way to make anyone's job - or day, or life, for that matter - any harder without a very good reason (making a point that clearly needs to be made to someone qualifies as a very good reason. Education, unlike most of what goes on in public schools, is important.). I will in fact usually go well out of my way to help whenever possible. But the moment that someone demands or expresses a sense of entitlement to my accommodation, which would otherwise have been freely offered, the situation becomes a game with the whiner as my opponent.

The principal's repeated complaints, which were all about her own convenience and not one bit about the desirability of stability in a child's routine or risk of error, made me wish that my son would be taking the bus, so that I could send a note each day changing his dropoff destination, with "P.S.: Deal with it" appended.

This is going to go on for a while yet. I'm stopping here, in the interest of getting something posted today and getting to bed at a reasonable hour tonight. Part 2 to follow soon (hopefully tomorrow, but no promises).

Coming up in Part 2 - Self-Esteem, The End of the Food Police, and Holding Your Kids Incommunicado!

Enough rambling. Here's a picture of a foot.


Anonymous said...

As someone who has been a college professor and was raised in a family of teachers, I'd just like to say that while I visited this blog expecting to read your "Walking Dead" review, what I got was an entirely different sort of brain-dead zombie, and further proof some people shouldn't breed. You are utterly unwilling to help the teachers educate your child, to the extent of ignoring homework (which by the way, always has been sent home; I had some in kindergarten as well, back in 1974) and undermining the teachers and faculty. Well done, pal. Your kid will likely be a juvenile delinquent whose dad thinks teachers can do nothing right, and whose bad behavior undercuts the other students who try to learn. You seem like a mouthy jerk and a poster child for birth control. While I'm a libertarian who believes in smaller government and less rules, believe me, I will point to your essay as to why some parents should face criminal charges for neglect when they actively ignore or undermine the schools they send their kids to by their own choice. Do us all a favor, and home-school the kid so you can convince him the Earth is 6,000 years old and dinosaur bones are a trick the Devil played to make us believe in evolution. You sicken me. I see jerks like you make caring teachers like my Mom and Dad work far too hard to educate kids whom you don't even care enough about to assist when they need to learn. You have a role, too, in your child's education, and ignoring his homework is child abuse, pure and simple. You should be arrested, your wife should leave you, and you should lose custody of your child. Do us a favor: Don't breed again.

RebelAngel said...

Golly, it takes a monumental amount of bravery to post a comment railing on a blogger without leaving your name. Wow!

I come from a family of educators as well, PUBLIC SCHOOL educators in states which pride themselves on their school systems, they told me when I was pregnant to start saving then for private school or plan to home school.

To pigeon-hole all home schoolers as religious wackos is as ridiculous as it is to say that all public school kids are receiving sub-standard education. It is a false statement, but with enough evidence to back it up pretty well.

Parents who believe their kids can do no wrong ARE a plague upon the lives of well-meaning, over-worked teachers. If you read this blog for more than zombie reviews you would see a pretty down-to-Earth guy who knows the personality of his own son. (A comment like "dangerous with Silly String" comes to mind.)

Educators often have to pay for school supplies out of their own pockets. They have to take a lot of work home after hours. Their jobs are difficult and under-appreciated. Putting kids on buses really is a minor task that an elementary school principal should be able to manage without whining REPEATEDLY to parents. if it is not, then I shudder to imagine how she will handle the tough parts of being an educator.

And if "your Mom and Dad" can't do any better than an internet coward who tells someone not to breed because he related his opinions on his own blog, then please, let me know where they teach/taught, so I know which classrooms to avoid.

Mark Andersen said...

The only reason I left the blog response anonymously is because Google wouldn't let me choose one of the other options. My real name is Mark Andersen, and I have two master's degrees — English Literature, where I wrote on Hawthorne's use of Catholic symbol for my thesis; and telecommunications, where I discussed the electronic "viral" marketing of candidates to Generation Y. I also have a law degree - top quarter of my class - passed the bar on first try, and I've been admitted to more honor societies than I can remember. I produce a downtown music festival, have organized my class reunions, and have held elected office and edited a newspaper. All of this was due to a couple factors: caring, concerned parents and excellent teachers. I'm based in Central Indiana — Terre Haute. Also, is anonymous any better than "Rebelangel" you huge wuss? I think a pseudonym is as pathetic. Aagain, your ignorant, selfish treatment of teachers and educators sickens me. Don't breed again. Spare the world more of your nonsense.

HomeSchooler said...

Mr. Andersen,

Although I find your position and opinions valid, I find your manner of expressing them deplorable.

And unless you come from the same province and the same district as Zirbert, you can have no comprehension of how complex the issues of New Brunswick public education are. We stand on the cusp of radical educational changes. ( There is huge debate about the homework issue. ( Currently, it is quite common to hear of children in grade one having over an hour of homework a night. I know my cousin does, and she's a very bright little girl.

Furthermore, I have a lot of very close ties in the educational system. There are plenty of things that "I don't hear" because I'm not "supposed" to. Like psychologists, doctors and lawyers, teachers see and know a lot, but they are not at liberty to say anything to anyone outside the "system." As a member of the clergy, however, they know that I am bound by a similar requirement of confidentiality, and so I have been honoured by being allowed to "listen in." Quite frankly, I've seen men and women who do their best to educate a too-large group of students whose intellectual diversity makes it virtually impossible to keep them interested and engaged with the lesson at hand.

Teachers here are frightfully overworked, sadly underpaid, and usually very stressed out due to the pressures put on them by parents, the school district, the department of education, and their over-full classrooms. As if that were not enough, classrooms often deal with mayhem due to the "inclusion" and "no child left behind" policies.

Don't get me wrong, I think it extremely important that children learn to be friends with and accept those who are handicapped or disabled in some way, but while that interaction is important, when it interferes with the learning process, and it disturbs greatly during classtime, resulting in lower grades and difficulty learning for children easily distracted, I draw the line. Education should be primarily about scholarly education, not social "education," which really is the reason why we send our children to schools rather than socials.

As for "no child left behind," I think that has failed miserably. What results is that highly intelligent children face a system that is "some children kept behind," and those who have difficulty learning face a system that is "some children forced forward." Often teachers find themselves forced to teach to the lowest common denominator, meanwhile the intelligent and very bored children have plenty of time to come up with smart-aleck remarks and have plenty of time to catch up on their note-writing and passing, or worse.

Most of the time I get the impression that teachers do their very best under miserable circumstances. If you will please note, Zirbert is unleashing his frustration primarily, and almost exclusively, against the bureaucracy and the system that has been set up so that children like his fall, very quickly, through the cracks. He knows his son isn't perfect, and I know that if his son gets in trouble at school, he will also get in trouble at home. But he does not wish for himself, or his son, to be run roughshod over by a system of education that tries very hard to teach children what to think, rather than how to think. And what is particularly ironic, is that most teachers I know would agree with him! They, too, feel like they are stuck in a system that drags them along in its grasp and forces them to teach children "how-to-pass-standardization-tests" rather than "how-to-write-direct-and-perform-a-play-about-the-life-of-early-Maritime-settlers."

I think that the education system would change tremendously if those at the bottom became those at the top. Let's have a teacher for the minister of education - a teacher with a long history of working in and fighting with the system, give her/him a seasoned teacher's aid as a deputy minister, kick out any district folks who have spent little-to-no time in the classroom (educational theory is all well and good, but without adding the all-important dose of reality that comes with applying that theory in a classroom with a bunch of children hyped up on caffeine, it doesn't mean anything) and replace them with experienced teachers, principals, and a couple of cafeteria workers and janitors for good measure (because they see a lot that teachers never do) and then we'll have a school system that would be envied the world over!

And, Mr. Andersen, to make such foolish and inflammatory, not to mention unkind, remarks such as "Don't breed again," is insulting, to say the least, and immediately belies your claim of "great" education and multiple degrees. In addressing Zirbert and RebelAngel in such a way, and to imply that you have a right to do so by virtue of your extensive education, is rather sad, and it certainly fails to impress. If I desired to, I could rattle off a list of degrees and fields I have studied in, and a list of professors with whom I have studied that would awe anyone in my field, but that does not give me the right to attack anyone in such a personal and malevolent manner, even if I disagreed wholeheartedly.

Usually, the more education a person has, the more they realise they don't know. I have worked with men and women who were positively brilliant, and without fail they do not consider insulting a person a valid method of debate.

You probably can figure out, from my internet sobriquet, that I have taken a tremendous amount of time, effort, and research to decide how best to educate my daughter, and ultimately decided on homeschooling. I am very blessed to be in a situation where that is possible. Not all are. And I wish to second RebelAngel's statement, "To pigeon-hole all home schoolers as religious wackos is as ridiculous as it is to say that all public school kids are receiving sub-standard education." I may be a pastor, as is my husband, but the reasons we chose to homeschool had little to nothing to do with our faith. In fact, we are using the "secular" Montessori method, with no attempts to twist it into some form of a "Christian" version of Montessori.

To speak so blythely of Zirbert teaching his son, "so you can convince him the Earth is 6,000 years old and dinosaur bones are a trick the Devil played to make us believe in evolution," is ridiculous! The Hebrew Bible scholar in me revolts! It would take little digging to discover that "conservative" Christian scholars have no consensus as to the "true" age of the earth. There are almost as many opinions as their are scholars. Furthermore, the vast majority of them put little importance to such a question. The Bible is a book of faith, meant most certianly to be studied and evaluated, but it is not to be mistaken for a scientific text. (Just as scientific texts ought not be taken as religious truth). My husband's PhD dissertation was examining the intersection of theology and science with regards to creation, and it is a fascinating study, indeed. But in order to write such a monograph, you cannot look at a subject from only one perspective; he had to know and understand the reasoning behind the theory of evolution in order to properly weigh its merits and its limitations.

Both my husband and I are very conscious of the importance of education and educational methods, as both of us were planning on becoming professors when we first met during grad school. Originally we had planned on putting any children we had in a private school, preferably secular as neither of us felt that school was the place for faith development teaching, which is different that religious education, the first being based on devotion and faith in a personal way, and the second intending to educate and train through the study of theology, Biblical exegesis, and Biblical languages. The study of religious text and thought can lead into and be applied to personal faith, but that is not their sole purpose.

We both have known those who have been "educated" in so-called "Christian" schools or homeschools where this was not the case. Though they graduated with a wealth of "knowledge" about the Bible, they have never learned to engage a text critically (meaning, in this case, analytically, not disapprovingly); they have been taught what to think, rather than how to think. For example, I know personally several former Christian school students who graduated having never studied Shakespeare, which would put them at a terrible disadvantage should they have gone into English literature; or evolution, which they would have needed to understand thoroughly (regardless of whether or not they agree with it) if they had gone into the sciences.

But this is not always the case. Don't paint all of us who choose educational alternatives with such a broad brush, and try to remember what you learned as you were getting your degrees: research, objectivity insofar as you are able, listen respectfully to alternative points of view, admit your own bias, more research!

I have rambled even more that usual. I need to go prepare my lesson plans for tomorrow!

RebelAngel said...

Well, the use of a pseudonym...I must admit I have never been railed on for that. I guess I did sort of consider it to be a step higher than "anonymous" as I did have to sign up for the darn thing, and provide an email address. I apologize.
Which name would you prefer?
Mark Twain, George Elliot, Silence Dogoode, Malcolm X, John Wayne, Ja Rule...

I chose Rebel as a tip to my alma mater. The Angel part was a tip to an old nickname. Maybe mine, maybe Shelly Fabaret's highschool boyfriend's...

So, I withdraw my pointing out of the fact that you didn't use your own name when you made personal remarks about a man (I assume from his writing, since he doesn't use his name, it may be a bluff. But that is his right.) on HIS OWN BLOG.

Why are we not writing the principal of his local school and telling HER not to breed since she cannot figure out how to get her students on the correct buses? Because she is tired and overworked? (Sorry, no. Not good enough.)
Because that would be RUDE? (YES)

And you stirred up the storm here with your disparaging remarks about home schoolers. Where did THAT come from? Especially from a "LIBERTARIAN."

Exactly how do parents asking teachers to do their jobs sicken you? That is something I would like to know. You are physically made ill by the thought of Zirbert Jr not doing his homework? Perhaps you read this blog too much then.

I have seen child abuse, Mr Andersen, and believe me, not having to do your homework is NOT IT.

Verbal abuse, though, I can read any time I like, by clicking to read the comments you have left.

"You should be arrested, your wife should leave you, and you should lose custody of your child. Do us a favor: Don't breed again."

If public school education is what made you so rude, then I do hope Mr Zirbert chooses to home school. But I have the feeling that isn't it. And, if your parents did serve their community so well as teachers, I hope they don't read your comments. Teachers really don't like whiny principals either.

K. W.

Zirbert said...

I'm just going to chime in here with a note for anyone who may have wound up on this page by running Mark Andersen's name through a search engine as part of a background check for some reason. People do that all the time these days, and it's a good idea, when evaluating someone as a job candidate, volunteer worker, potential date, whatever.

For the record, there is absolutely no reason to believe the claim that the original ten-pounds-of-crazy-in-a-five-pound-bag anonymous comment above was written by Mark Andersen from the area of Terre Haute, Indiania. In fact, it's downright dubious. If there even is such a person, it's highly unlikely that he would be stupid enough to post a hateful, childish, dishonest rant on someone else's website, then come back to provide his name, location, and really, really pretentious resume.

It's far more likely that the writer of the comment allegedly from Mark Andersen is actually someone who wants to damage Mark Andersen's reputation by posting such lunacy and hoping people will believe that Mr. Andersen is a sociopath.

It's important to note here that there's not even any reason whatsoever to believe that the same person wrote both the first anonymous tirade and the "Mark Andersen" comment. In fact, there's evidence to the contrary: the claim that Google "wouldn't let (him) choose one of the other options." Maybe Google had some sort of outage that I didn't hear about, but it's more likely simply a lie.

I also doubt that either comment was actually written by an English Literature major. The first displayed a spectacular lack of reading comprehension, and the second... well, how many English Literature majors would refer to someone as a "wuss"? I'll grant that it's a step above "poopyhead", but not a very large one.

So, potential employers / colleagues / whatever of Mark Andersen of the Terre Haute area - feel free to consider these posts a crude impersonation. If you mention them to Mr. Andersen and he admits to and stands by them... well, I think any rational human being will know what to do then. Run. Run fast, run far, and don't look back.

As a final note, if I receive any credible requests that I believe to be from the real Mark Andersen asking me to delete the second comment, bearing his name, I will do so. I will not delete the post based solely on my suspicions, but neither would I knowingly allow a forger's libel to remain readily available.


Anonymous said...

Mr. Anderson, For being the educated man you claim to be, you have not mastered the english language. You should consider returning to some college to learn how to spell. Proves my point that there are some highly educated people whom aren't very smart. Also may be the reason the Education System I work in is broken and the very educated people seem unable/unwilling to fix it.