23.12.08

ECRS (That's Eckers)

So, tomorrow being Christmas Eve and me taking a four-hour bus ride to be with my host mom's grandchildren, I thought I might not have time to post. And, since I am committed to posting, I'm doing it today!

I thought I'd take some time and, since I talked about Virtual School two posts ago, tell you a little bit about ECuadorian Regular School (ECRS). I have X classes, where X is a number larger than Y, where Y is the number of classes I had in the United States, which is seven. I will list them in order.

Artistic Anatomy: I don't like this class. My teacher is a man (YAisI), whose name I don't remember. He's very very full of himself, in that he knows exactly the best way everything should be, and you have to defer to his judgement, regardless of whether his judgement conflicts with what he told you the last time you showed him your drawing. Basically, he shows us a picture of a bone, a pelvis, a hand, a foot, etc., and we have to draw it. But we have to draw it in the exact manner in which he says, regardless of whether his instructions conflict with the picture of the bone you have in front of you. Then he tells you to do things after you've already spent a long time doing them the opposite way, because that's what he told you. Like one time, I was drawing the skull, and he says, Great, go over it in pen. So I go over it in pen, and bring it back, and he says, Oh, the shape's wrong. Fix it. I can't, I just went over it in pen, like you told me to. Fine, do you want to do it over? Do over the picture of the skull I've been working on for the past three days because I can't fix something because you told me to go over it in pen? Yes. No. 10/20. I hate you. And he's so forceful in everything he says, but he's wrong half the time. He told us about how the first vertebra that connects our spine to our skull is called "Atlas," after Atlas, the guy from Greek mythology, which I can understand. However, he tells us that it's called thus because Atlas held up the Earth, causing earthquakes when he sneezed. I'm like, No, you're wrong. I didn't say that, of course. I learned my lesson from Literature class.

'This is kinda heavy.' -- Atlas
Literature: This class is in between on the Hate-Love scale. Some of the things are okay, some aren't. My teacher's a woman, whose name I don't remember either. In this class, we started out talking about the different genrés of Literature, lyrical, epic, so on and so forth, which was okay. Then we talked about El Cantar de Mío Cid, the first work of literature written in Spanish. It's like the way The Canterbury Tales is for us. We didn't actually read Mío Cid, because it's really really long, but we talked about it. What I don't like is the way, when something displeases her, she needs to take up a whole class telling us how displeased she is. She spent a whole class once telling us about how much better the other 4th course is than us because they made posters for a project when posters weren't required. Keep in mind that we've only had this class maybe eight times all year. Yeah. Luckily, most of the anger is directed at people she thinks can understand her, so usually I just sit there while she rants. Except this one time, when she was talking about the Greeks. The school here is even more Europhillic than my school back in the States, even the World History class that was two seconds of Egypt, two seconds of China, and the rest about Europe. So, my teacher was telling us that the Greeks invented literature, and I'm like, No. You're wrong. Except I actually said it, and tried to explain to her that there were loads of stories written long before the Greek or even European civilizations had writing. She didn't believe, and sort of mumbled into the next topic.

Sculpture: I like this class a lot. It's my favorite class. Here, the teacher tells us to make some kind of sculpture, and then we make it, and he walks around and offers suggestions, or helps if you ask for it. Which is the way art should be taught, I think. He presents ideas and then we incorporate them into the work. His name is the only one I remember, because on the first day of class he said, "I'm going to tell you right now that my name is Mr. Carlos Torres, because I've had students before that don't remember my name." All the teachers here go by "Licen," which is short for "Licenciado," which means "Teacher." Our last project was making a bas-relief of a fruit bowl. I thought mine came out pretty well. Interesting fact: I finish before everyone else, because I don't talk while I work.

Painting: I hate this class. I loathe this class. The teacher is a man much in the same vein as that of Artistic Anatomy. Usually, he just ignores me. I mean, he'll go around to every person in the room and give them suggestions, and pointedly walk around me to get to other people. Although, I actually prefer this to him "helping" me. Case in Point: I was working on my final exam, in which we had to paint a vase and a flower, and I was doing fine. He comes over and says, "You're doing it wrong," grabs my paper, erases the whole thing, and blocks it out the way he thought it should be. Of course, he did this standing at a different angle from me, Plus I suck at painting, which doesn't inspire any goodwill towards the class. But I used to suck at guitar, and I didn't hate that. I'm better now at that, by the way. Which brings me to my second point. I'm not getting any better at painting. I suck just as much at painting now as I did when I started. This class is a stupid, boring, pointless waste of my time, is what I'm getting at.

Tecnical Drawing: This class is all right in my book. I don't really get what we're supposed to do. All the rules for doing everything were made a couple of years ago, when I wasn't here, so I spent the first two months not understanding anything. In this class, the teacher (a man) puts a picture up on the board and we copy it exactly. Each picture is a line, a plane, or a letter, projected onto another plane. It is the most boring, mindless class ever, but it relies entirely on math, so I'm incredibly good at it. The homework takes literally four hours to do, though, so the class loses points on that. Overall, I am glad when this class comes up, because the teacher's nice, the classwork's easy, and no one gets yelled at.

Mathematics: If ever there was a time I felt like jumping out a window, it'd be this class. The teacher's a really nice guy, and when we started he knew I'd had way more math than he was teaching, so he tried to get me out of the class. The principal said no, because I'm there to experience the culture, and so I have all the same classes as they do. Period. So, every Thursday, I'm there, for an hour and twenty minutes, learning how to factor polynomials. First, this is tenth grade. They should be past factoring polynomials by now, but this is an art school, so I forgive that. But the teacher is teaching the subject entirely wrong. I'm not a math teacher, but my dad is, so I have some knowledge on this. The teacher taught several specific examples of "When the polynomial looks like this, you have to do this to get the right answer." There was no attempt to teach the theory behind factoring polynomials, which is how to multiply them together first. If you said to one of these kids multiply (x+2)(2x-3), they couldn't do it. So, I spend this class getting perfect grades and finishing first, which isn't all that bad when everyone else is better than me in almost every other subject.

Artistic Drawing: This is my other favorite class, and also the only other one whose teacher I remember, Mr. Lopez. Here, much like in Sculpture, the teacher tells us to draw something, gives us a model, and we draw it. Awesome. One of the things I've noticed here is that no one else besides me draws from imagination. We get an assignment to draw a landscape, and everyone rushes around trying to find newspaper clippings with pictures of a mountain. They draw them perfectly, but in the end, they're just copies. Now, the sixth course students don't have this problem, from what I've seen, so I guess they learn somewhere between now and then, but it was just strange seeing it happen every time. Which reminds me of one of the things that annoys me most about this school. All the kids here, all of them, even the ones who aren't in my class, have this inner compulsion to go around to look over people's shoulders at their work and critique them, just to make sure that their art is better than your art. This pisses me off so much. Now, when people do it, I just stare at them rudely until they go away. So far, only one person (not in my class) has asked if I mind being watched while I draw. One of the things I learned about this class is that I love doing perspective pieces. Any time we get a free assignment, now, I draw something that has to do with perspective, whether that's the main focus of the piece or not. It's really cool, and if I had a scanner, I'd upload some of my work.

History of Art: I used to hate this class. It was, and still is, in my opinion, a boring waste of time. We spent each class reading from the text book while the teacher threw in his own comments about how he missed the good ol' times when women knew their place. Plus, he was old, ugly, and smelled bad. But then we didn't have his class for two months through a freak of scheduling, and somewhere in there he broke his foot, and now he's not anymore! We have a new guy, who seems much more interesting, and at least doesn't smell like the way I think dead mice taste. We've only had him for one class, so I dunno how he'll turn out, but I figure he can't be worse than the last guy. Right? Right???

Social Sciences: This class is okay, I guess. We have a woman teacher. We don't actually do that much, but when we do stuff, the teacher compliments me really heavily because she doesn't expect anything from me. Like, I wrote a brief description of the physical features of Ecuador, and she just glowed over it, even though it wasn't entirely correct. It helps that I was the only one who actually did the assignment, though. This is also the class that forced me to learn the 22 provinces of Ecuador and their capitals, which I now know better than anyone else in my class. I always end up embarassing the other students too ("You're not even Ecuadorian, and you know them better than I do..." "Yes... Jacob: 1, the World: 0.").

Gym: I hate this class too. We have to wear a special uniform. My first day, the gym teacher made us do all this stuff on the parallel bars, and on the chin-up bars, not making the girls do anything, of course, because they're too delicate. And then he's like, Okay, now climb up that thirty-foot arch, shimmy over to the other side, and come back down. So, most of the students climbed up, went hand over hand for ten feet while dangling thirty feet up, and then came back down. I say most, because I and a few other safety-conscious (read, unathletic) students decided not to take part in this particular activity. And there's one kid, Jorge Vinueza, who's a little on the chubby side, and the gym teacher thinks it's a big laugh to call him "Gordito," or "Fatso" in English. What a jerk. I hate that class.

2-D Composition: This class is nice. The teacher's a woman who spent a year in the U.S. as a foreign exchange student, much like me here in Ecuador. She speaks English, but of course she didn't tell me that until after I spent forever trying to ask her a complicated question in Spanish. On the whole, though, she's pretty nice. We spend the class looking at different works of art and seeing how they work, the elements and principles and whatnot. Fun stuff. She did think very highly of Jackson Pollock, though, and that's a strike against her.


(OH MY GOD. IT'S SO BEAUTIFUL. AND SYMBOLIC. OF ART.)

English: This class is another mind-numbingly dull hour and twenty minutes. Since I already know English, I get to go down to the library and pass the time reading The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and translating the vocab from Spanish to English. Lately, though, the teacher's been asking me to "help" with her daughter's English homework, in which I basically work through one of the English workbooks. Sara's supposed to do the other one, but she decided she didn't feel like it, so she just spends the class reading Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I've decided that I'm just going to avoid the other foreign exchange kids as much as possible. Not all of them, but a few act like they came here on vacation, skipping school, ignoring family requests, that kind of thing, and I just don't want to be around them anymore. Not all of them, but a few.

Computation: I own this class. Mainly because I'm the only one who uses a computer on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. I got a 19/20 average. Yeah. We go to the computer class, and the teacher explains about files, and emailing, and stuff, and I try not to get caught playing Hearts. It's fun.

So, that's all for the classes. There's more stuff I could talk about, but I don't feel like it right now. Maybe for Friday.

Thanks, Tom, for commenting. And thank you, Keri, for commenting as well. As to your comment, no, I can't do that. My English teacher put a little countdown timer on the front page saying "X days, Y hours, Z minutes, α seconds until January Fifth! GET EVERYTHING DONE BY THEN OR DIE." AP Classes get special privileges, like the right to deny me of everything that is good and wholesome in my life, in the name of being on a pace of their choosing.

¡Ciao!

2 comments:

Tom said...

"Yes... Jacob: 1, the World: 0."

Do you say that there? Does it change in Spanish?

blackgirlart said...

I laughed so hard reading this. You captured a lot of MY time in school in spain and mexico! What a hoot! Keep it up, it will make a great book someday.

your mommy (daddy is snoring)