Volunteering Sucks!


A friend of mine has brought to my attention a craze that, apparently, has begun sweeping the public school system. It is called "forced volunteerism."

Yes, initially, I too thought that was an oxymoron. Volunteering is something one does willingly and out of the kindness of their hearts.

In some areas of the country, though, volunteering goes hand-in-hand with graduating (or graduating with a certain honor). If you want that diploma, or walk across the stage with that National Honor Society thing around your neck that you busted your ass studying to earn the right to wear, you have to wipe the drool from the wrinkled faces of elderly nursing home residents and serve slop to alcoholic, drug abusing, homeless men who claim they were in 'Nam (but were only fifteen when the war ended).

I briefly attended a Catholic Church with my parents and one of the requirements to pass to the next Confirmation class (an elementary curriculum of religion taught to high schoolers) was volunteer work. I spent a number of hours assuring a senile old woman that doctors had not injected cancer into her brain. Aside from forming the opinion that all old people should be set adrift on ice floes, what did I learn from my experience with forced labor?

Not a damn thing! Soon after I completed the mandatory number of volunteer hours, I dropped out of Catholic Church completely (not because of that, but because I just couldn't get into the whole Catholic thing). Besides, St.Matthews Catholic church in Arlington is a breeding ground for drugs, theft and the occasional brutal slaying of a teenager with $100 shoes.

Anyway, public schools should not be granted the right to turn students into free labor. What a student does outside of school is their business and school administrators should not be able to tell students what to do with their time.

It also ruins the spirit of volunteerism. (Whatever the hell that spirit may be. The spirit of volunteerism alludes me.) Administrators claim they want to teach students how terrific it is to help others, but how can they learn that lesson if they are not given the opportunity to make their own choices?

A recent survey showed a majority of teens do volunteer work. (God bless 'em because I cannot see the allure of it.) Teens are freely choosing to spend their time helping their fellow man. If the teens who are not choosing to volunteer are forced to participate, they will never see the purpose of it. They will resent the experience much as I did and then turn out like me--pissed off at everything.

And, besides, I pay taxes. (Isn't that what it always comes down to?) Why the hell should my tax dollars go towards forcing kids to spend less time studying? American kids are already mildly retarded. This friend of mine, Josh, has a sister in 10th grade and she barely has an understanding of simple math. I watched him attempt to help her with her algebra homework and he had to continually remind her that, yes, it is important to pay attention to the positive and negative signs in front of the numbers when adding. I refrained from interjecting and discussing the significance of positive and negative numbers in multiplication because I assumed her brain would explode.

Don't the Japanese teach that when their kids are still in diapers? Isn't that basic stuff? Why are we waiting so long to teach America's youth simple concepts? (Okay, maybe some school systems are decent. I'm just talking about firsthand experience with the Arlington Independent School District.)

Better yet, why are we making volunteerism so important that a high school diploma hinges on it? We allow functional illiterates to don a cap and gown each year, but a student with a 4.0 GPA isn't qualified to graduate because they don't give a damn about their fellow man? Hmmm, maybe Canada, even with its uptight citizens, is starting to look good . . . Ok, yeah, that was a stretch.

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Email: arbitum.bibindo@usa.net