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Shool on Fire

František Gruber | 12.01.2015 17:28 | Education | Indymedia | Other Press

True story

School on Fire

They say that school is the fundamental part of our lives and success. I would like to share with you
my experience and my view of the current school system that is responsible for providing education
to schoolchildren and students, and for getting them prepared for their personal and professional
future. First, I will start with a story describing my life at university after I had expressed my own
opinion on the education system. I will also discuss other issues happening at schools today.

I will write my story untraditionally and simply and will begin with my final year at the university
which was really unbelievable. After reading this, you will maybe find out why I acted in such an
unusual way in some situations. Characters in the story are real, but they will be given nicknames
instead of their actual names. You can also skip ahead and read Chapter 9, or jump straight to the
latest chapter describing in brief how our education system works in fact and what it results in.

The story will be translated into several languages and sent all over the world through social
networks, e-mails, etc. If you like to, you can as well share it, or send it forward to other people,
because I think that this situation concerns all of us, not only the students.

The story has already been and will be sent to the media in Slovakia as well as all over the world. I
hope the media will publish this story truthfully and without any additional made-up things. Since it
will be published on the social networks and sent to e-mail boxes all over the world, people will get
a chance to compare what was written to what was actually published in the media. Later I will give
you a list of the media to which I have sent my article. This way you will be able to find out which
of them were brave enough to publish it truthfully, and which not. I would like to remind you that
the articles are written in the form of stories and that's why I don't name specific location, nor
characters' real names. However, I think it should not be a big deal for anybody to find out which
school and persons I will be actually talking about.

Chapter 1: The Big Little Joseph

I was a student of the final year at an unnamed faculty located in an unnamed Slovakian town in the
region of Šariš. The last winter term of my whole university studies had just started for me. The
beginning of the school was smooth, except that during the first weeks of the term I heard from my
friends that the supervisor of my diploma thesis had started to spread rumors about not letting me
defend my diploma thesis. This meant an additional academic year at the university for me. At first,
I told myself that this must have been a really bad joke since I had only seven months to submit the
thesis. By chance I met my supervisor in the hallway and I respectfully greeted him. He responded
with a supercilious sneer. A year ago, before he got his PhD degree, I used to call him by his first
name but after that, our relationship got very formal and serious. At that time, his behavior made
me smile.
I was told that all of us, who were consulting our thesis with him, were supposed to stop by at his
office. So I came over to talk to him to find out what in particular our thesis should have consist of.
He told me to find an establishment where I would be working on the practical part of my thesis and
by the end of October I was supposed to submit the first theoretical chapters, approx. 20 pages.
Soon, I found one where I was allowed to do the practical part. I sent him my theoretical part, even
though I was surprised about the fact that anybody else would not have to submit anything. In a
couple of days I got an e-mail from him saying: “Do you really think I will let you pass with this? It
is all for FX so far!” So I was working hard on correcting this part and then I resent it to him maybe
two more times, yet still got the same response. I kept seeing him at his office to get some advice on
the practical part, as well. I asked him how I should have drawn up this part of the thesis but our
opinions on what the thesis should have included were completely contradictory. I wanted it to be
practically useful whilst he expected it to be highly theoretical. I also asked him whether he could
give me some other advise and he didn't say anything. Moreover, every time I was leaving, he didn't
forget to remind me: “I won't let you pass!”

One evening, when I needed to let off some steam and hang out with friends, I saw my supervisor at
the entrance door chatting to other doctoral students from our school. Once he spotted me, he
pointed at me saying: “I won't let you pass!”. I had heard those words so many times! The other day
he was even talking about it pointing at me in the bar. At that moment, I look at him and told him to
stop and finally think about what he was actually doing to me. All of a sudden, he calmed down and
I came over saying: “Okay, I might have overreacted but seriously, stop it!” A few days after this
happened, I came to his office again to let him know that I knew what I was going to do in the
company and that I would be consulting everything about it with my brother. I had no other chance
than to find somebody I could get some advice from, since my supervisor was not really able to do
so. So I decided to ask my brother to help me as he was familiar enough with the matter, and for a
couple of years he had been coordinating various international projects related to the topic of my

Once I told him what exactly I wanted to research in my practical part, I saw he was not capable
to give me any advice. I asked him whether he wanted to discuss the matter with my brother to get a
better idea of what I wished to do in my thesis. Even though he didn't want to, I gave a call to my
brother and passed the cell phone to him. They were talking for 20 minutes. Later, I learned from
my brother that my supervisor had told him that by the end of Christmas holidays we were
supposed to submit 96% of our theses. He even said that except for me, all of his students had
already done so. Besides that, my brother also added that all the time he had been talking about
some theoretical stuff but had no actual practical experience. I just smiled and called a couple of my
schoolmates to find out if they had actually submitted their theses. Of course, nobody had done so
yet. After a few weeks, I changed the company where I was supposed to be working on my practical
part. I wanted to see my supervisor again and showed him how I was doing with my thesis.
However, I came to hear from my schoolmate that he was saying to everybody in dorms about not
letting me get the degree and that he could do whatever he wanted at school. When I heard this, at
first I didn't know what to do. Then I got the idea to see and talk to subdean nicknamed George the
Traitor. I told him pretty much everything about what my supervisor had acted like and then he
asked me: “Have you boxed his ears?” I replied: “No, I just tried to talk to him and make him stop
doing it.” The only thing the subdean said was that he would have a talk with him.

Chapter 2: The Big Knot

The Deputy Head of the Department

During the first semester at university, we had a course with the deputy head of department that was
supposed to include lectures as well as seminars. I didn't attend the lectures because our teacher was
staring at a computer monitor all the time and students were rewriting notes. This kind of lectures
didn't make any sense to me and I found them a waste of time. I preferred attending the seminars so
I could see how to practically solve exercises. The problem was that each time I came to have the
class, I found out we were not going to have any. Usually in the end of December, we were
supposed to take pre-exams to ensure certain amount of credits so we could take the actual exam
during the exam period. Our teacher split the pre-exam into two partial ones and drew up the tests in
a way that we were actually forced to learn his materials by heart so we could pass. However, I can't
learn stuff this way, so I failed the first pre-exams, together with many other students. All the
students who had not passed it were required to calculate an extra example in his office. I was not
able to attend. Later I came to know that they had spent there pretty much half a day unless they had
not figure it out. When they had asked him to help them, he said: “It's you who ought to know it, I
can't help you!”. To check the examples he had to have a look at his computer first, and then
replied: “Your outcome is different from the one on my computer.”
At first, he didn't even want to allow me to take the pre-exam and wanted me to sign up for his
subject one more time next year. He told me that I was not allowed to get an extra term for preexam.
I was forced to visit the head of our department as he was the the only person able to grant
the extra exams in case you fail or can't attend the first term. With his help, I was granted the extra
one. In a couple of days, I came to take both pre-exams. The teacher was revising them by starring
at the computer and finally said: “The last example is not correct, you will have to do it one more
time.” I started to re-calculate it and all of a sudden he left his office. The other teacher told me:
“There was a student spending a few hours here the other day. I had to give him a glass of water,
otherwise he would have fainted.” Later I heard how proud he was about wringing it all out of his
students so they almost passed out. When I asked him how to calculate it, he was not able to tell me
anything without his computer and since he didn't actually know it at all, I wasn't given any advice
from him. Finally I figured it out and he told me: “Now I am happy that you already know it!”.
How is it even possible that a person who is supposed to teach is not able to solve examples, yet
requires students to know it? At first, I had felt sorry for him as he probably suffered from the short
man complex, and couldn't come to terms with it, and tried to prove that he had all the power over
his students. However, over time, he lost all my respect for him.

Chapter 3: Mr. Big Seed

Even though I didn't have any course taught by this doctoral student, I think that he deserves his
own chapter in my story, too. You will see the reason later. When I was taking the written exam in
the subject taught by the Big Knot, Mr. Big Seed was watching us so we couldn't be cheating
during the test. I pulled out my cell phone to use it as a calculator and turned back for a moment. He
spotted me, and began yelling at me to sit over, otherwise I won't be allowed to take the exam. He
kept shouting and I had to sit down in the last desk. He came to me, stood not far from me and since
he spent the whole time staring at me, I asked him: “While you are here, could you give some
advice about this example?”. Once he heard this, he took my exam paper and tore it.

Chapter 4: The Very Important Professor Findigo

It was supposed to be an usual subject finished by passing the pre-exam by the end of the summer
term. However, our teacher had changed his mind and wanted the course to be finished by the real
exam which we had to online sign up for. At first, we were asked to take the pre-exam and needed
to get 11 points in order to be allowed to take the actual exam. There were over 100 students signed
up for the first term of exam. Approx. 15 students passed the exam. There were many students who
were pretty sure they had passed, so they decided to see him. But all of them were told: “ You didn't
say pretty much anything on your answer sheet. I can see you didn't get the the matter, how can I let
somebody who lacks knowledge pass this course!?”. I miss the first term of exam due to some other
tests, so I signed up for the second term. Mr. Very Important Professor Findigo took another two
doctoral students with him to watch us during the exam. As I hadn't had any time to study for the
test because of the other exams as well as writing my diploma thesis, I was checking the notes on
my cell phone. All of a sudden the teacher came to me and told me to give him my cheat sheet, but I
told him I didn't have any and that if he wanted to, he could search me. I only had my cell phone
with me, no real paper cheat sheet. After that, he asked one of the doctoral students to watch me till
the end of exam. He was standing there staring at me. I began to make fun of him and asked him
whether he liked me as he was watching me so carefully. He replied that I hadn't written anything
by that time he was standing there, and I told him that it was totally my business. After a while, as it
made no sense to just keep sitting there, I submitted my exam paper anyway.

Chapter 5: The Preliminary Thesis Defence

I am not quite sure if there is something similar to this at any other university, yet it is compulsory
for us to undergo a preliminary diploma and bachelor thesis defence. Basically, it is the defence of
our diploma theses in front of the examination commission consisting of the university teachers.
Our department wanted to help us with our theses so much that they had even prepared actually two
stages of the preliminary defence. The first one took place at the end of January. At that time, we
were required to be pretty much done with the theoretical part plus have finished most of our
practical part, as well.
Pre-defence had started. At first, I was watching my schoolmates' presentations. The examination
commission were asking the questions which nobody else knew the answers to. Later it was my
turn. After presenting my own thesis, it was time for me to be asked questions. At the beginning,
they didn't like my very short and brief presentation. My supervisor told the other teachers: “You
know, he was refused by a company, so he had to look for another one, therefore he hasn't finished
the practical part yet.” I looked at him not saying anything. The truth, however, was that I had been
forced to find another company and had changed the practical part just because of him since he was
not familiar at all with what I had actually wanted to do. After the presentation I was asked a few
more questions and then my supervisor announced I passed on. A couple of students had to repeat
their pre-defence two weeks later and some of them learned the results later from the Internet as
they had not been told right after their presentation.
Another pre-defence took place in the end of February and we were told to be ready with 96% of
our theses. On the proposal of our subdean George the Traitor, they had planned to change outline
of the theses like week before the pre-defence. However, they had not been able to come to an
mutual agreement, so we were asked to work on our theses as directed by our supervisors. I didn't
visit mine, as I found it absolutely useful and annoying. While we were waiting in the hallway, my
supervisor passed by smiling all over his face. I sensed he had some other plans with me. We
walked into the classroom and began to present our theses. When there was my turn, the Big Little
Joseph stood up and left. He came back in a while, together with the head of our department and a
couple of other teachers. After I finished with my own presentation, my supervisor told me:
“Actually, I don't even know what exactly you are working on. You haven't been consulting
anything with me so far and this is supposed to be the practical part, you have nothing here to be
discussed!” All I wanted to do was to tell them the truth about why I haven't actually been
consulting my thesis with my supervisor, but I was in a good mood so I didn't want to fight with
them. The other teachers also started to reproached me for having very little material included in
this part of the thesis and for giving a very brief and short presentation. My reply was simple: “The
goal of my presentation was to explain in brief what I will be working on in my diploma thesis.
After all, beauty is in simplicity.”
One of the teachers started to ask me questions which only he knew the answers to. I told him that I
did not focus on what he was asking me. At the end, my supervisor pronounced a verdict: “We will
see you in two weeks.” I replied: “In two weeks? Okay, I'll come!”

Chapter 6: The Lecture 'From University to Work'

From a poster and the Internet I learned about a lecture that was supposed to give us some practical
advice for career, work and life. Mr. Martin who was a member of the project for returning talented
people back to Slovakia attended the lecture as well as another guy and three other ladies – all of
them from a personnel agency, I guess. I and my roommate decided to come over to hear them.
Right after we arrived, I met our subdean George the Traitor organizing the lecture. When he
spotted me, he got a bit nervous and asked me if I was going to see the lecture. “Yes, that's why I
am here!”, I told him. After we entered the classroom, we saw only like 15 other people together
with Mr. subdean. When the lecturers came in the room, they were very surprised about the low
participation. They didn't even need to use microphones. Moreover, besides our subdean as the
organizer of the event, no other teacher attended the lecture. After lecturers' introduction, they
announced that we had a big chance to win the prize in the drawing. We were also told that the
other day they had given the lectures in some other town with participation of almost 300 students.
Since there were only a couple of us, our chances of winning were higher that day.
The first speaker was Mr. Martin who was talking about his own professional progress, about his
studies at university in the USA, and he also gave us some practical advice which had helped him in
his career. At the end of his speech, there was given space to answer some questions. We could
heard those usual question about how many foreign languages he could speak etc., but later my
roommate spoke up: “Do you think that the key factor for your success was the university you
graduated from?” He claimed: “I think the main factor were those practical rules which I always
tried to follow in my life.”
And I was wondering aloud: “So you don't need a degree to be successful?” He replied with words:
“I believe the right principles that you set in your life are more important.” He also mentioned that
he was trying to change the education system in Slovakia as Mr. Martin was in the project for
returning talented people back to Slovakia. That was the moment when I started to talk about my
own opinion on the current school system. I came to the university to study the major focusing on
production management. However, the majority of our courses don't have anything to do with this
field of study and even if there are any that would be useful for a common practice, they mostly
consists of the out-of-date theoretical material. And unfortunately, we are forced to learn them by
heart, word by word, and if we say it by our own words, our teachers automatically think we didn't
get the stuff.
Knowledge gained this way is usually forgotten very quickly and when we start working in a real
company, suddenly we realize that we don't remember anything due to getting no former practical
preparation. It feels like we have to learn everything from the very beginning again. Honestly, I
believe that many people working in the real professional environment for many years can tell
students how greatly theoretical knowledge and university degree indeed vary from the experience
gained practically.
I think I actually do understand the point of view of some companies. They'd rather hire people with
experience than fresh graduates. They prefer well prepared employees to university graduates full of
theoretical information and no skills. I summed up all my ideas into a single one – five years of
studying at the university didn't give me any practical understanding and experience beneficial for
my future profession, business or even just daily life. I kept talking about the fact that the general
education can be gained in some other way than by learning stuff that is nothing to do with our
actual major. For me, this is not the general education. University should get us prepared for the
specific field of our studies, so we will be able to fully start working after graduation, and not to get
registered at the local labour office due to disinterest of companies in the fresh university graduates
with no experience. In my opinion, there must be something wrong with the current education
system here.
Mr. subdean George the Traitor stood up and left the room, but we kept talking about some teachers'
skills and other stuff. A lot of teachers have no practical experience and they know only the
theoretical side of the things they try to teach us. Personally, I think some of them have years of
experience and solid knowledge, but the problem is they have to stick with the current curriculum
according to the compulsory education system which in fact does not allow them arbitrarily to
change anything.
All at once, our subdean began to talk about giving students a chance to evaluate their teachers on
the university website. However, anybody didn't know anything about that, and I actually haven't
found it until now. Also, I can see no point for us, students, in doing so. Honestly, I think that even
if a teacher earned weak rating, there would be nothing done about it. Later, while he was trying
hard to defend the results of the faculty, all of us just made fun of it.
Mr. Martin asked me: “Are you actually doing anything to change this system? Everybody is used
to only talk about it, but that doesn't change anything.” You can ask our subdean. I would like to
invite a couple of executives from various companies to visit our school and assess whether the
knowledge gained at this university are indeed practically useful. At the end of the lecture, subdean
George the Traitor said: “Not long ago, chief executive from a certain company was supposed to
visit our school, he didn't manage to come over, though. It was published on the university website,
too.” And Mr. Martin responded: “See, you got a chance to invite him!”, and I told him with a smile
on my face: “Yeah, I will invite him, and won't be able to finish this school! Well, one way or
another, I'm expecting it anyway.” It was almost the end of the lecture when the prize drawing was
taking place. The winner was happy and then a random lady spoke up: “Don't be jealous, he will
have to pay tax on it!”

Chapter 7: Last Weeks of School

Part 1

The final weeks of school were quite exhausting for me and other students. All day I was running
around from taking one exam to another. I didn't have any time to get some rest. I didn't even have
enough time to finish some of those tests because I was also urged to complete and submit my
diploma thesis. I didn't have time either to study for the exams or to write my thesis. There were
days when I used to have three to four tests per day.
At the end of March, I got the last chance for the preliminary defence. Of course, I was the only
one. There were many other students, but this time I was the first one to present my thesis. After a
short introduction, the examination commission began to ask questions. One of the schemes in my
thesis consisted of the design of a fork lift truck. They asked me which method I used to choose the
one in my scheme. I told them I had followed the parameters of the fork lift truck. They responded I
should have done it according to some theoretical methods. I just smiled at them and asked if they
really thought that in real conditions somebody would use those theoretical methods. Companies
need to solve problems quickly – they would simply look for the most suitable fork lift truck, put it
into practice right away and don't try to use any time-consuming methods to find the proper fork
lift. After my explanation, they still had some other questions and in the end, Big Little Joseph
asked me: “Who's your supervisor?” I replied it was him. “But you are not coming at all to discuss
anything with me! Could you tell me why?” I asked him if he wanted me to say the truth and he told
me to do so. Another teacher also spoke up and said she would have been interested in hearing what
I wanted to say. I asked him one more time if he really wanted me to say the truth. And once again
he told me to do so. In front of the examination commission, I started to talk about his threats, that
he had kept saying about not letting me pass and some other stuff I've been already written about.
He tried to defend himself which made me so angry that I asked him if all he could do is lying. I
pulled out my cell phone and asked him if he wanted me to give a call to my brother, if I should
have call for all witnesses to prove that everything I had said was true. I told him: “Do you know
why I didn't discuss anything with you? Because you keep annoying me so much!” His colleague
said she would not be listening to this and added: “You two fight it out or figure it out in some other
way, and don't be telling us all this!” I told her I had said only the truth. I was so angry that one of
my classmates came over and tried to calm me down. I turned back, took my jacket and asked them
if they had any other questions, I would have loved to answer them. When I was leaving, I told Big
Little Joseph to go fuck himself. I went to the dorms, and in an hour I was supposed to have another
test but as usual, I didn't have time to study for it and after all this I didn't feel like to do so either.
When I came in the classroom, everybody knew what had happened during the defence.

Part 2

In a few days I went to talk to Mr. subdean. I came there, sat down and in a while he picked up his
phone and said: “Yes, he's here, he's just showed up.”
Even now, I am still wondering who was the person on the other side of the phone. We began to
discuss my thesis. He was only bothered by such details as grammatical errors, incorrect wording,
editing, etc. He was saying something totally different from what he had told me last time. I was
taking notes, even though I disagreed with a lot of stuff he was saying. After we finished, I told
him: “I really hope you are not angry about what I said at the lecture. I meant it generally, our
education system as a whole, not only our faculty.” He replied: “No, why should I be?” I explained
to him that I had come to the lecture straight from a certain pre-exam which I didn't pass. The only
reason I failed was the lambda Greek letter which I had not been able to write. I still can't get the
point – I was studying Production Management and I failed the course because I couldn't write the
Greek letter. I just don't want to learn stuff like that because I know that I will never use it in this
field or even in daily life. Why do I need to know this? If I ever need it, I know exactly where to
look for it. I am not willing to and I am actually not able to learn useless things because I know its
something I won't use anymore. There exists this rule called Pareto principle stating that roughly
80% of the results come from 20% of the activities. Pareto principle can be simply used in our lives
as well as in education; only thing we need to know is which of the knowledge correspond to those
20% responsible for our actual results, and then trying to limit those 80% of the knowledge which
is in fact useless. The problem is that we need those 20% of knowledge from courses relevant to our
field of study, not from all the useless courses that have nothing to do with our major. There is a
great amount of these pointless information students have to learn at universities. Then we kept
talking about the diploma theses in general. I expressed my own opinion on this issue saying that
pretty much all of them, either diploma or bachelor theses, are based on the theoretical knowledge
rather than the practical ones. I asked him what the point is in writing the inapplicable thesis. “You
are right, still I'm not competent to change it. All I can do about it is keep writing mails to the
Ministry of Education.”, he told me. But I disagree: “But someone has to start! And as you are the
subdean for the education activities and information technology, you should have the power to
change things. Or at least, to make sure that teachers can't do whatever they want at the school. For
instance, Professor Findigo – how is it even possible he can change already set rules for finishing a
course. We were supposed to finish his subject by passing pre-exam, and he arbitrarily changed it,
so we have to take the exam now. Moreover, every other student failed the exam due to his totally
absurd and unjustified reasons.” He had a look at some papers a said: “Well, you really are
supposed to finish the course with passing the pre-exam, you are right.”

Part 3

After I left Mr. subdean's office, I went straight to take a test from the subject taught by Professor
Findigo. To put it in a nutshell, I was being watched by a doctoral student during the whole exam,
agan. He was staring at me so I started to make fun of him. Finally I submitted my answer sheet to
Professor Findigo and he didn't accept it because there was no stamp on the paper. After that, I went
to take another exam.
I came there like 10 minutes earlier yet the classroom had already been full. At the door, another
mass of students were squeezing so they could catch a good cheating spot after the students in the
room would finish the test. When all of a sudden the door to the classroom opened, you should have
seen how all the people started to squeeze even more and scream and almost trampled themselves
down only to be able to cheat during the test. I was wondering what people, and actually university
students, are willing to do just to pass a single pre-exam.

Part 4

It was the last week and I still had four courses to finish. Moreover, I also needed to keep writing
my thesis. I decided to take up my thesis first. I was working on it throughout the whole Easter
holidays and I was finally almost done with it.
I wanted to do it properly because only one more week of the final year left there for me. However,
I still didn't see some of my grades submitted in the academic online system so I decided to discuss
this matter with the particular teachers. I came over to talk to a lady whom I had taken one of my
pre-exam with. She used to share her office with the deputy head of our department. I asked her
why she still had not submitted the grade for my diploma thesis since I had sent her the entirely redone
thesis. She replied: “I can't give you the assessment. The head of department is the only one
who can do it!” After that, I also asked the deputy head of department, The Big Knot,, why I had not
received the grade from him yet. Ho told me: “Currently you have fifty-five points but you haven't
taken the test yet. You need to get 16 more points since you currently have only four.” But I tried to
defend myself: “The course is supposed to be finished by taking pre-exam only, so the points should
be counted and the grade submitted into the system.” At last, he suggested to make the whole matter
clear by discussing it with the head of department. So I came over to talk to him and he told me: “I
don't think it will be a problem, the subject is finished properly, yet it still depends on your own
supervisor whether he will grant you the grade or not.” Of course my supervisor told me to come
back and write the test as he was trying to prove that I had four missed classes: “Come to take the
exam one more time!” At that time, I really had no time at all because of another three exams still to
take and also finishing my thesis. I came to remember that I had been attending those three terms of
the compulsory preliminary defence at the same time when the classes had been going on and he
had actually asked me to provide an excuse letter. I was trying to explain to him that I had not been
able to come for his classes due to the preliminary defence. Still with smile all over his face, he kept
saying: “But there isn't any note about it at my attendance sheet!” I looked at him and left his office.

Part 5

After a while, I went to see Mr. subdean again. It didn't surprised me anymore that he was saying
something totally different about my thesis than the last time. The icing on the cake was that he told
me I should have been using the stopwatch to take measurement of the process which usually takes
weeks to be done in a real company. Just at that time, he got a call. By that time he was on the
phone, I went to grab the application paper for my diploma thesis. I was told by the secretary that
my supervisor should have had it. However, he couldn't give it to me since his colleague had not
submitted the grade until that time. I came back to Mr. subdean's office and we finished our
consultation. But I couldn't help myself and had to ask him: “Have all of you here gotten conspired
against me? The Deputy head of our department doesn't want to submit the assessment for me,
because I don't have any excuse letter. But where should I get it from? I had to attend the
preliminary thesis defence at the time of his seminars!” I also told him I didn't have any time to
study since there were still a couple of more exams left for me to take that day and the day after. I
also confessed that I didn't even feel like taking that exam because of the teacher's crazy behavior
and unjustified students' failures. By this I mean the deputy head of our department – The Big
Knot. The subdean encouraged me to place a written complaint to the dean. But I told him: “I need
to take the exam tomorrow and I won't achieve anything by writing and placing the complaint,
since I am required to submit my thesis next week. How long does it take for complaints to be
resolved?” He said that maybe a week. So I retorted: “You know what? This bureaucracy is
unbelievable, I need to figure it out right now!” Finally, I found out that our dean was on a business
trip abroad at that time, anyway.
I kept talking: “The Big Knot's colleague said that you are supposed to submit the assessment for
my diploma thesis. My supervisor, on the other hand, claimed that his office colleague should be the
one to submit it. Professor Findigo keeps sending a doctoral student to watching me. Is there some
kind of a conspiracy against me or what?” I was so angry that I asked him if he thought that all this
stress was worth it to get the degree. I can go through a lot but there were many people just about to
have a mental breakdown. Nobody has time for anything because it is expected of us to study for
and take exams at the same time as finishing our theses. I told him how I had met a lady just the
other day who also had kids and a job and no time for anything else. And then, people wonder why
some students just can't handle the situation and decide to jump out off a balcony, or attempt
suicides due to all the anxiety and stress they are under at school.

Part 6

Next day, I came to the subdean to talk about my grades and assessments. He was in his office with
subdean Pantaloon and told me to wait a minute. After a while, he came out saying: “The course with
the deputy head of the department is ok for you, he just wants you to provide the excuse letters for
missing his seminars.” This made me so very annoyed, again. For past three weeks, I almost didn't
sleep because of all the exams, tests, and writing my thesis. I said: “But I've already told him like
four times that I was attending the pre-defence. How should I explain it to him?” Subdean Pantaloon
heard it, too, but none of them said anything. He left and then came back after a while. “So what
should I do with the assessment for the thesis? Who is supposed to submit the grade for me? I am
running around the school and nobody knows!” When he sent me to his colleague again, I told him:
“I don't understand anything that is happening at this school! You see what is going on here, you
know what is wrong, and you do nothing about it?!” I said goodbye to him and he didn't say
As he told me, I came to see the subdean's colleague who was supposed to submit the thesis
assessment for me. I knocked at the door and came in. She wasn't there. I was about to go away
when I heard the Big Knot asking me when I would give him those excuse letters. I told him again
that I was at the pre-defence so I couldn't attend his classes: “Where should I get them from? I was
at the school!” He pulled out his attendance sheet with a smile all over his face: “But I don't have
any notes about it!” I couldn't help myself. I came to him, and took the sheet out of his hands and
asked him: “What kind of notes?” All of a sudden, the Big Seed spoke up. He told me to get out of
there, so I replied: “You shut up, asshole!” At that moment, he jumped up and almost ripped
my jacket. I let him push me out of the door and then he said we would see our dean. But I told him
the dean was not there. “So we'll go to visit the subdean!” I knocked at the subdean's office door. He
was still pissed off about what i had told him before. I said: “These doctoral students want to tell
you something important!” The Big Seed lied to him saying that I had physically attacked him. This
made so incredibly angry so I took my jacket off and told him: “So come on, you asshole,
come one!” I got him speechless and suddenly, both of them stepped aside toward the restroom door
opposite them. The subdean began to be yelling at me to get out of there. He called those two into
his office. After a while, they came out and went to another one. I wanted to explain everything to
the subdean, but he told me he didn't care about it at all.
I needed to calm down so I stayed in the hallway. I saw subdean George the Traitor walking in the
same office as the two doctoral students had been in. After I calmed down a bit, I went up to ask the
colleague again to submit my assessment, as the subdean told me to. When she finally came back, I
asked her: “Mr. subdean told me that you are supposed to submit the thesis assessment for me.” But
she started talking about the matter that I didn't meet requirements for being granted assessment. So
this time, I came to know that I didn't fulfill some conditions. Last time, she told me that I am
supposed to be given the grade by somebody else, not her. “What kind of requirements you mean?”,
I asked her. “I just came back from Mr. subdean and I was told that you should submit the grade for
me.” And she kept saying: “I was told something else. He asked me not to do that.” At that moment,
the Big Knot walked in the office and with a smile all over his face, he asked me: “So, did you get
those excuse letters?” He began to provoke me again. I looked at him and left.

Part 7

It was the last week and I was about to submit my diploma thesis. I still had a few exams left at that
time so I told myself I would at least try to take them. On Monday, I had my fourth one with The
Very Important Professor Findigo. When I came there, like 50 people were waiting in the hallway.
Professor Findigo came out of the office and pointed at me saying: “You won't take the test!”
Later I went to find out about the pre-exam that I had missed before, and I had taken only one test.
The teacher told me that she had already completed the course grading. At that moment, I told
myself that this was the end. But every end is the beginning of something new, isn't it?

Chapter 8: Greetings from School

I received a letter from the Dean of the faculty, Nomar. Due to several written complaints from the
teachers and doctoral students, they asked the school disciplinary committee to investigate the
allegations. In the letter, there were described my verbal and physical attacks against them as well
as email-delivered threats that were considered a disciplinary offence. A week after, I got another
one inviting me for the disciplinary hearing. The chairman of the committee was Mr. subdean
Pantaloon. As I expected, the outcome was against me. According to the committee, it was me who
committed the offence. No surprise! After all, they had to make up something to hide their
You can read my story to find out how I verbally offended them, and build your own opinion about
what actually happened. Try to ask yourself what your reaction would be if you were in my shoes.
Moreover, they even claimed that I had attacked them physically. I'd like to know who I actually
attacked physically. It was Mr. Big Little Seed who physically attacked me. Besides two other
witnesses, there was one more person who, hopefully, would be honest and say the truth. I am
actually not surprised at all by their lies, scruffiness and by placing the complaint to the disciplinary
Regarding to the threats in my e-mails, I wrote that I would reveal to the public every little thing
that was happening at the school and that I would bring the truth to light. I also stated that this was
only the beginning. The harshest word I used was to refer to Mr. Big Little Seed as 'boy'. Besides
this, I said about the Big Knot that he suffered from short man syndrome and he couldn't come to
terms with it. I have enough proof to testify against all of them, and I've also saved the e-mail
correspondence so I can use it if I have to.
The truth wins out.

Chapter 9: Other Interesting School Stories

Over the years spent studying at the school, so many interesting things happened to me and other
students. I guess I could write a book about it. Now I'll mention only those that I know details about
or I had a personal experience with. But if you asked any other students or even some teachers from
our faculty, they would tell you many more. I have no doubt that similar things are happening at
other universities, as well. At our school, everybody can do whatever they want and the
management don't care at all unless the school is on the precipice of losing government funding and
For instance, the teachers let about seventy students fail their last pre-exam, just before their final
bachelor state exams when all students were ready to take them. Most of them had even finished
and submitted their theses at that time. Later, I heard from one doctoral student that the teachers are
usually forced to do it, probably by the super-duper management of our school. And maybe by
some other, even higher-ranking people? Did they simply set certain amount of students that would not be allowed to finish their studies and graduate?
By the way, if you don't finish an academic year, you need to pay fee to continue your studies next
year. Our school requires to pay 500 euros.
We are also responsible for providing two copies of our theses. So we have to print it and bind it
twice which cost us a lot of money, as well. And let me inform you what happens to those copies
after two years of storing them at school - they are scrapped due to lack of storage space. As usual,
our money go to waste again.
I will never forget about coming to school on Saturdays to take some extra exams because I had
missed the first one by one point. Our teacher threatened us to study properly, otherwise the exam
would take place on Saturday so we couldn't go home for weekend. I also heard that this exact
teacher didn't let pass one student – some other teachers son. They probably had some personal
conflicts between each other, so he simply wanted to get revenge on his son.
This teacher's wife didn't let many students pass her course that was totally useless for the most of
fields. I don't understand why she was acting like that but the fact is this year, around 70 students
had to repeat the course and she also let fail dozens of students right before submitting their theses.
I remember how I kept coming to a teacher with my project for like two weeks or so. The project
had to be designed in the graphic program which we hadn't been taught to work with at all. We
could also make it by hand but I couldn't actually imagine doing it that way. Every single day, there
was the hallway full of students waiting for him to check their projects. He usually came from
teaching, took like two students and then left the office for the day. Even if you were lucky to get
into his office, he barely opened the project, yet he found some errors right away. I was coming over
to discuss mine every single day for two weeks. We were trying to meet him even on Saturdays, so
he could check it and in fact, send us back home to do it all over again.
We also had to take an exam with him – sketching and designing some components. At the first
term, only one or two students actually passed. At the second term of the exam, a couple of more
people passed, but again, it was pretty nerve-wracking and exhausting. There was only one more
term left for many people including me. At the last exam, we got the component which we had
never seen before. Of course, it was Saturday. We spent there the whole day, since 8am to 9.30pm,
and believe it or not, still he let fail like 20 students. Teachers like him simply need to prove their
superiority and maybe there is no other way for them to come to terms with their own disorders and
complexes. The sad part about the whole thing is they are even reveling in doing so.
There are really unbelievable things and situations going on at our school not only between doctoral
students and teachers, but also within the management.
The school management is supposed to be changed next year, so hopefully, the current employees
will be replaced by some who will truly care about the students' needs and their education. I wrote a
couple of stories that can be easily verified and a lot of former and present students of the school
can tell you many more. Even a lot of teachers could be speaking about what was and still is
happening at the school when this kind of people have the power to set their own rules and achieve
their personal goals through dishonesty, connections and unfair game.
I and other students could be listing many stories that happened to us, but I think those above are
enough to make a realistic picture about the situation in our educational institutions and the school
system in general.

Chapter 10: Turning Schools into a Huge Business

You probably won't be too surprised if I say that schools have become a very good business. I'll
mention only a few of many reasons why schools can be considered a way to great earnings. To
start with, if you decide to apply for a particular school, you have to pay for being registered. They
try to defend it by claiming that the fee includes all the paperwork and postal charges. But honestly,
who are they trying to lie to? A couple of papers can't cost all that money we have to pay for it.
Once you are accepted by the university you applied for, you have to be paying money all the time
– for some kind of recordings, paperwork, etc. Every state school is provided an annual subsidy per
student by government which is supposed to be used for quality improvement of the school. At the
beginning of each academic year, you are also required to pay the enrollment fee, and during the
final year, students pay a lot of money for finishing school, as well. If you don't manage it to finish
semester or year, or you even have to repeat it, you need to pay high fee to continue your studies in
the next academic year. You also have to get pricey books and study material. Everything must done
in electronic versions, so you need your own laptop or desktop computer. Those students who want
to study at the university that is located outside of their home town and too far to travel to on a daily
basis, those have to live in dormitories which are a bit expensive, as well. Students also have to
travel to and from the dorms, so the expenses grow further. You have to pay for your groceries,
toiletries, and other stuff. Try to count it all together and you'll get a surprisingly high number.

Schools can mediate small loans for students, but they only cover a small amount of the actual
expenses. Students are required to start paying their loans back once they finish school and have an
income. During the crisis in Slovakia and all over the world, it is not easy to find a job or some
other kind of income to pay the loan off. Do you think the money really go into improving the
quality of schools? Make your own opinion, but honestly, I doubt it. Try to read the stories and I am
pretty sure you will feel the same way as I do.
I spent a lot of time in teachers' offices writing tests and taking exams. Not too long ago, I got a
chance to hear a conversation between unnamed teachers. They were about to go to a business trip
to a nearby country. One of them was saying: “Hey, are those flight tickets already booked? And,
how will we get out of the airport? We won't take a bus, will we? We should rather take a cab.” And
then she said the amount of money that almost shocked me. She wasn't satisfied with the fact that
Romanian teachers would be staying in a better rated hotel then the one they will be staying at.
Teachers go for such business trips quite often and the higher status at school they have, the more
frequently. I only hope that not all of them waste the money that students have to pay to the school.
I believe there are still some teachers who try to hold down their spendings. If any of the teachers or
anybody from the school management have a birthday or there is some other red-letter day to
celebrate, school get everything for the occasion. Do you think they are collecting any special
money related to this kind of celebrations? Something to eat, drink, etc. Each student even have to
pay 20 euros to get some snacks and drinks for the commission during the final state examinations.
Once I got a chance to hear an interesting conversation in the teachers' office when a person was
saying: “Well, enter it under that item and the rest of it will be charged somewhere else.” I don't
know what they were talking about but it didn't surprise me either. I think the people working under
the school management are doing really good. I was also impressed by the connection between
some politicians and our university.
Do you think the whole thing is only a coincidence? I don't really think so. Do you think that the
money really go into improving our education? Make your own opinion.

Chapter 11: The Dormitory

In this chapter, I will describe my dormitory where I was living for five years.
The dormitory rooms look exactly the same as twenty years ago. There hasn't changed a lot since
then. Super old beds, cupboards and other furniture are falling apart. There also used to be those old
balconies falling apart at the time I was staying there, too. I guess it is still the same. During the last
years though, they replaced a few of them due to very bad, almost rotten condition. The walls are
cracky and full of holes, the wallpapers are super old and torn, as well. Lifts in the dorms were so
'secure' and 'reliable' that almost every week at least one of them didn't run. Even I got stuck in
them a couple of times, too. We can keep listing deficiencies in the dorms that all the residents and
dorms employees know about. All the time, I was wondering where all the money that we used to
pay for living there actually went. Why don't students get anything replaced, even the stuff that have
been there for ages. At last, when I was leaving the dorms, I learned the truth. All the money are
used for the university in other town and only the small amount of it actually gets back for the
dormitory. Question is where this part then go and who is responsible for the further distribution?
Why over the years, there have not been replaced at least the furniture that is in a really poor
I think the problem here is in fact the same as the schools issues and education system. Again, the
money are not available for those who really need them, and instead, somebody else gets unjustly
richer at the students' expense.

Chapter 12: After-School Activities

All of us also need some other activities than just studying. I'll tell you what facilities were
available for students. Behind the dorms, there used to be a soccer field, two concrete fields for
volleyball, tennis and other sports. However, if you took a more detailed look at those 'fields', you
won't find much to do with an actual sports complex. When I came to live there, I couldn't believe
my eyes – the football field was plowed over grass. I asked myself if they wanted to grow potatoes
or something else over there. My last day at the dormitory I found out that it was the secretary of
our faculty – the Cat - who actually had gotten the field plowed. What their intention was, I don't
know. Had they simply done it so we couldn't play football there? Today, you can find it covered all
over with like half-meter grass. And the volleyball field? You won't believe it was really used for
playing games there, it is also grass-grown all over. The only part that is more or less usable is the
concrete slab, yet it is also covered with grass in spring. Whole 'sports complex' is all paled with the
rusty fence. Moreover, last year they closed even the concrete slab. I can't even call it a 'sports
complex' today. Is this the way of promoting sport activities for students? By plowing a football
field? By not caring about the area? Even by closing it all?
Almost every school has its own club where students can hang out and have some fun. Before it
was closed last year, our school had also owned one, V-club. Various events, concerts and student
parties were taking place there as well as some dancing crews, bands or athletes used to perform
from time to time It was actually one of few places in the town where many various events took
place and it was very popular among students and people from around. The club was located in the
campus area, so we didn't have to go far to meet up, get some entertainment and let the steam off.

However, the club was receiving a high number of complaints from a teacher who was fired from
the school. According to him, students were too loud and disturbing the peace at nights. There was
installed a dampening material but it was not enough. The former teacher living close to the campus
kept complaining, so the cops were visiting the club on a regular basis. I think it was even
embarrassing for some of them to come over so often when only thing they could actually see were
all the students having fun, nothing abusive or forbidden. So what was the reaction of our school
again? They closed the club stating that classes will take place there. Until now, there has not been
going on a single class in the building. Instead, the outcome is that all the student events such as
matriculation parties, balls, etc. have to take place on some other licensed premises and students
have to pay for renting them. Of course, why would we even use the ones that are empty and for

Chapter 13: The Current Education System

What do you think is the reason that our government supports the current school system? The
connection between the universities and politicians is doubtless. And the politicians are further
connected to other financial groups, etc. I hope some of them will come to realize the seriousness of
the situation and will truly want to help people.
Already in elementary school, everybody around you try to guess things about your future and
career. They want to decide instead of you which major you should choose and which not. If you
are not doing well at school, they automatically bring you down and think you can't get anywhere in
life. I don't understand how people can judge you by your grades at school and guess your future
personal and professional steps.
There are also cases when a schoolchild can't learn stuff, have medical issues, their teachers doesn't
like them, at the same time certain family issues come out and their grades can rapidly get worse.
And honestly, who of us liked to study as a child? In early years, kids usually even don't have a clue
what they would like to do in life. Many kids don't know it even when they are actually about to
choose their profession. It was my story, as well. I couldn't decide which high school and major to
choose. High schools in Slovakia mostly accept students according to their own criteria such as
average grades or admission exams based on questions that usually have nothing to do with the
actual field of studies. That means kids are happy if they are accepted at all. They might also find
out later that they don't enjoy the school too much.
High school are very similar to the elementary school. The difference is you begin to think about
what in fact you'd like to do in the future. Again, students are influenced by the particular high
school they study at. If you don't plan to continue your studies further at university, you look for a
job in your field. However, if you want to be hired in a different field, you probably will be
answered that you are not qualified for it. Those who want to get the university degree must have a
school-leaving examination or some other higher education. At universities, there is a very similar
system to high schools – admission exams, tests, average grades, etc. And you are lucky again if
you are accepted at all. It maybe won't be the one you wanted to study at yet you will at least get a
degree. The level and quality of education is described in detail in my story. Since many young
people think the university degree will ensure them a good job and a good life, they want to
graduate from a university purely because of getting the degree.
I didn't manage it to finish my school because I had to leave in the last week of my final year. But in
case you do, you probably will be looking for a job. It is also very likely that you won't find it too
soon, since the unemployment rate is still increasing and companies are not willing to hire fresh
graduates without experience and practical skills. If by chance you even find a job, it probably will
be the one you never wanted to get and you will hate it in the end. Try to count how much money in
total you put into this education system – and now, what is the outcome?
This is resulting in a great amount of unsatisfied employees worrying about their jobs, as well as a
growing number of unemployed people. Unfortunately, our education system decides about a child's
future already during the first years of elementary school. Do you really want the other people to
make decisions about you? Those people who will mostly do anything to achieve their own goals?
I think all of us should do what we want in life, what we enjoy, and be ourselves, not what others
want us to become.


I am almost sure that similar stories have been happening at other schools in Slovakia and all over
the school. This was my story and you can verify it if you like. Do you think this education that is
provided to us is really worth all the stress, nerve wracking, money and especially our time spent in
schools? All of us should care about the education we will get in the future. Especially students
ought to be interested in what level and quality of education they are willing to gain. Parents should
be informed about what is actually going on at schools, even though some of them surely are
suspicious. They should know what their children have to go through, and where all the money go
when they pay for their children's schools. Even companies and entrepreneurs could care more
about the education provided to their potential employees, since a good business can't be working
properly without highly qualified and skilled graduates. We live in difficult times today. People
don't have jobs, most of the companies are struggling with existential problems. However, nothing
will ever get solved if we keep sitting by and watching only. I believe it is necessary to begin with
altering our education system – straight from elementary school up to universities. Cupidity,
selfishness, superiority and lust for power have reached an enormous degree even among the people
working in the education sector who are further connected to the other important people. I can't take
the situation as it is anymore and that's why I wrote the story. I firmly believe that together we will
find more courage to change things and improve the poor conditions in our school system. I also
hope that some of the high-ranking people will begin to realize the seriousness of the situation and
start to do something in order to finally bring a new positive change. The change for the better.

František Gruber
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