I teach at a 4-year college. But my best students are inmates. Because the college students I teach are really fucking dumb.

Prisoners Learning

April 23, 2015 - Uncategorized

By Dr. Zed Mooston

For the past eight semesters, before I enter one of my classrooms, I receive a full-body search. The classroom’s walls are made of concrete and the students wear orange jumpsuits rather than Pink Floyd and Polo T-shirts.

I teach “Social Implications Of Otherness” at San Quentin State Penitentiary. And, each year, I find that, incredibly, my inmate students are often actually much better pupils than the ones I teach at a four-year university.

I can’t believe how incredibly idiotic my university students are. They’re so goddamn stupid that the inmates are actually better students than them.

The inmates can be engaged and excited students, but they aren’t exactly the sharpest tools in the shed. They’re in prison for a reason. One of my inmate students is in jail for attempting to stab a man with a hammer. He literally has no idea what the sharpest tool in the shed is.

However, most of my inmate students, like most prisoners in America, are incarcerated for nonviolent offenses. There are 2.2 million prisoners in the US and the vast majority are incarcerated for crimes as trivial as attempting to steal a candy bar.

Do you realize how dumb you have to be to land in prison for attempting to steal a candybar? Just say you forgot it was in your pocket! Or run away when the shopowner catches you! This is simple stuff and probably why they’re such terrible students.

However, amazingly, compared to my university students, the prisoners are as smart as professors who regret spending six years getting a PHD in sociology.

My university students do not deserve to be in university at all.

They should be in jail for making the world a dumber place. They cite Wikipedia in their papers. Not specific articles from Wikipedia. Just Wikipedia. This year, a freshman asked me if she could get pregnant from homosexual blinking.

Teaching prisoners has forced me to reflect on the how we measure accomplishment in education.

And to realize how few emails from students I will answer once my genius is recognized with tenure.

It may sound cliché, but I have learned far more by teaching prisoners than prisoners have learned from me. Because the prisoners are incapable of learning correctly.