Systematic Stupidity

I’m off for the next few days meeting stupidity head-on in the guise of the much maligned, often misunderstood local superintendent of education. He has decreed it impermissible for my son to play on the public high school golf team. My son attends a private school that lacks a team. Hence, I must investigate to determine if Mr. Superintendent has a valid reason or if he’s indeed a stuper (you must know by now, this is short for an unforgettably stupid person). Ah, the things I do for my children and my research (both of which I adore equally).

Meanwhile, I leave you here today with a tale from my formative years. Even as a youth, I believe I displayed the makings of a stupidity expert. Hopefully, you’ll agree.

At age nine, I was an ambitious scholar. Unfortunately, I was also a victim of professional stupidity committed by Mr. Sussman, my fourth grade teacher.

At the very start of the school year, the Suss carefully assessed the abilities of his twenty-nine students in a unique way. Not by using a battery of tests. Review of past work was irrelevant. No questions were asked; no students were interviewed. Mr. S believed the best method for evaluating student competency was a simple one: judge by appearances.

The Suss classified students in this manner:

  • Those that hailed from Japanese descent were obviously bright. They would be placed in the “A” group;
  • Those exhibiting Caucasian features and who appeared “normal” would also be classified in the sought after “A” group. To fall into the “normal” category, children could not be overweight, had to sport combed hair,  be capable of sitting still for a minimum of six seconds, and they could not be the product of a father named Bubba or Bobby Ray.
  • Everyone else fell into category “D” with nothing in between.

This classification system resembled that of third world countries. There was no middle class; just a small, but powerful and solid elite, epitomizing the leaders. Everyone else landed with a heavy thud at the bottom.

I am a brunette with a light olive complexion. I am not Japanese and, in Suss’ razor sharp assessment, there was a chance I wasn’t Caucasian. In all fairness to the Suss, this took place in the seventies when many Southern California schools had their share of children of Latin descent who had trouble learning the language and consequently, a challenging start in learning. Suss figured I had emerged from south of the border, though this was not the case. I was a prime candidate for category “D” which was where he placed me.

I may have only been nine, but I was outraged as my Japanese friends initially looked on in disbelief at my displacement, then snickered and pointed. I could have squeezed all the juice out of a lemon in my bare hand that day.

I considered explaining to Suss that I was smarter than I looked. I needed to kick him on the shin to get his full attention. But alas, I wore soft tennis shoes on that day. Instead, I patiently waited my turn to prove myself.

The day after his arbitrary, capricious and inane classification, we were divided into reading groups. The crème de la crème read Treasure Island aloud for the Suss while we, in the dubious and intellectually impoverished group, read something like See Spot Run. I waited my turn practically gagging myself to keep from shouting out.

I must mention why this was so maddening. At home I read Black Beauty and The Secret Garden. To be reduced to stories I’d conquered ages ago was terribly frustrating to my nine-year-old mind.

When my turn came, I was gratified to read the entire book in five seconds flat. Needless to say, Suss suggested I join the other group. I shot him looks that could have burned holes through his spectacles had I tried a wee bit harder.

As I passed by him, I noticed his baffled expression. Probably trying to figure out how he possibly could have made that tiny error. (Insert glass-shattering shreik here, but don’t forget to plug your ears first, dear readers).

Every profession has its share of mistakes. People who somehow attain a position despite lack of skill, proper knowledge or training. Perhaps another stuper opened the way. This is likely, as you know, since the stuper population is at an all time high.

I heard Mr. S is no longer teaching; he’s now a school superintendent.

Think for yourself.


5 Responses to “Systematic Stupidity”

  1. Katie says:

    OMG, this has got to be one of the funniest blogs I have read in a long time. Thanks for putting a smile on my face before bedtime. I came about your blog from Daria Black’s blog. Please let me know when you write your book on Stupidity. I would love to read it. LOL


  2. Agnes Mildew says:

    I hope you thwart the stuper you face – confound him with this insult: Vin iam faciam ut stultividum esse tu te fateare?…which translates as “Shall I force you to admit to yourself that you have all the foresight of a fat-head?”
    Latin insults are excellent…especially as stupers will mistakenly think you are married to the Mob and do anything for you.

  3. Too many of them become “educators”, good luck regarding your son, but I think your Mr. Suss story says it all.

    BTW there is a school close to me that is celebrating some charactor traits it values in its students. One of them is “caringness”. It is plastered everywhere. This is not a word. Need I say more on the state of our “educators”?

  4. Julianne says:

    Stupers in high places–Scary stuff.

  5. Mary says:

    I think my school district hired all the people from Mr. Sussman’s category “D” as administrators.

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