March 07, 2005

Gunn High School shuts down after-school robot program

Gunn High School shuts down after-school robot program via Engadget

Interesting story about a robotics program as an after-school program. Let me point out one thought, though: this sort of problem is hardly unique to robotics. Often, school programs fall apart due to teacher apathy, student apathy, or student conflict.

In high school, I was on an award-winning school paper. Columbia Scholastic Press awards for several years running, pride of the school, got at least one group per year protesting the school, often got the local daily and alternate weekly to cover them. We were good, no question.

One year, it was all together. Next, it fell apart -- although I wasn't around by then. I'd quit over a... dammit, I want to say trifle, but it wasn't to me at the time. I was on the school paper to do a comic strip, and everyone knew it. My strip proposal was rejected, on the last day of the school year, with half the staff gone, and after the bell rang. I announced then and there I was quitting.

The teacher who'd put together the paper quit either late in the year or over the summer. By the next year, we had a new teacher, who let the rest of the class put me in a hot seat, literally. First day of school, I was hauled into a long room, with everyone seated all around the door I came in. I had to stand with my back to the door, while a star chamber of kids told me I'd have to basically start from scratch and redo what I'd worked on the prior year. This is the kids, mind you; the teacher refused to comment. When I said I wasn't interested in this farce, the teacher wrote me the pass to get out of the class without any comment.

When the idiots insist you bow to a sacred cow, walking out is the second best thing to do. (Destroying the cow is the first.)

A lot of other things happened after that. Over the year, kids left like flies. Nothing like a good issue was printed that year. Eventually the paper was shut down, as the advertising editor had forgotten to collect money. So, everything was sold off, and the school had no more paper.

These things happen. Kids, especially geeks, are very bad at interacting; they're sensitive, react poorly to rejection, and are even more isolated in their own "personal world" than regular high schoolers. So having interaction problems is a natural; in fact, I'm surprised it's not worse. The best I can say is, that's where to make the mistakes. It's sad, it's downright horrid; but it happens, more often than you'd think.

Posted by Ted Stevko at March 7, 2005 11:02 PM