I remember my Senior High School Contemporary Issues class sparingly. Most of the time I spent there could be more or less classified as unproductive and unmemorable. But the stronger memories I do have are of unremitting ignorance and lack of care from the other students in my age demographic. The Contemporary Issues curriculum, which seemed more direct when it was called Current Events, dealt with a range of political and sociological topics that have been going on in the World. Topics like: The War in Iraq; Racism; Sexism; Darfur; Global Climate Change; U.S. Politics; Health Issues; etc,. The reason I cannot seem to remember too much of what was being said by the others was mostly because they said nothing - spewing arrogant, uninformed opinions about the very little they are apparent about the world around them. It was never the fault of my teachers, if that may be the conclusion you're drawing. They were fine, intelligent teachers, but they were just stuck with a bulk of students who really weren't on the same level as them.
It was the first class of the day, starting at 8 AM. Most of the students strolled in to class like normal, but a large amount of them showed up late, or loud, as if it would not have made a difference, treating every day like the last few weeks of our Senior year. A lot talked about whatever sports were going on the day before, usually ranging that into class conversation. The reason I'm pointing out these details is because this might be the general attitude of the average American teenager. They just don't care. No matter how loud they might make their voice, and no matter what opinion they might throw at you, they care about themselves, their interests, and their relationships, more than anything else.
The one argument that sticks out most, was during a discussion between the sociological differences between Men and Women. This is one of the few divisions that got a little volatile during the year. It started from the basic question of "Who do you think has an easier life in this country?" Most of the women and a few of the men in the class (including myself) thought men had it easier. But a few men disagreed, citing their opinions of why they thought women had it easier. Now, many of the discussion we had served up terrible banter, but this had to contain the absolute worst.
Men shouting: "Women can use sex to get whatever they want."
To the other side saying: "Men already control the world."
- At this point, those are bad, but passable. But the thing is, when one side used a dumber argument, the other side got dumber to combat it.
Men: "Women don't have to work"
Other side: "All men oppress women."
Men: "Women have periods."
At that point I could not listen anymore. I had said nothing the entire time until, at that moment, I sat up and shouted, "What the fuck are you guys talking about?!"
My teacher didn't get mad at me for cursing, because she was agreeing with me.
I continued, "No one is saying anything! You're all just talking about bullshit! Periods?! That's not an argument." Then, naturally, someone who agreed with me got mad at me for "being smarter than everyone else."
The argument tailed off and went no where. But now that I think about it, pretty much every idea, proposal, or opinion mouthed off between 8 AM and 8:45 AM was the almost the same. An eighteen year-old kid proposing how to end the wars in the Middle-East. A failing student talking about how to fix government policies. And even to the point of anti-gay remarks from a few others. I remember all of that, and how out of the eighteen students in that class, only six including myself went on to college.
And out of the 500-some students in my class, only about 100 went onto college. They say it was more than 100, but I do not because community college is not the same as a university. I think of those kids and the streak of mislead remarks I've heard over my four years in Egg Harbor Township High School. How sports mattered more than anything else. How every other song and movie that came out was the "best one ever." And how Scary Movie 5 looked funny.