I really do value education, but I detest school. This is kind of a dilemma for me. And no, I’m not just being an angsty teenager. I feel really strongly about this, and I hate having my opinion debated all the time. It’s okay to have an opinion. It’s okay to not like something. Debating is not always helpful or welcome, okay? Please. I don’t have the tenacity to defend my every point right now. Keep it to yourself.
Okay. Back to my main topic now. I go to school and get great grades, but do I always feel like I actually know–I mean really know–the material? Absolutely not. The information, sadly, is not sticking. I (and when I say I, I think it’s safe to say that I’m not just speaking for myself) memorize the necessary test information by studying, take the test, get a great grade, and forget it. Three months after I learn something, do I still know it to the same level that I did? No. Do you remember all the layers of the atmosphere and weather patterns that you learned in sixth grade? I didn’t think so. (If you said yes, just to be a self-praising smartass, get out.) Nobody remembers it all. I know I certainly don’t. In fact, half the time after I take a test (especially in biology, but that’s just me), I get an A and have no idea about anything. If you asked me to adequately explain mitosis and meiosis, I wouldn’t be able to do it. Yet, I got a high A on that test. How come? Well, I’m being taught to regurgitate information, not absorb it. As long as I meet the state standard, I’m good.
We do need a way to measure our learning–grades. The problem is that the emphasis placed on the measure of learning has become more important than the learning itself. People are becoming obsessed with achieving. Achieving, achieving. It’s all about getting that A. This, by the way, extends into many homes. Not only are students under pressure at school, they are under pressure at home. Parents have fallen prey to the obsession over grades as well, and they force high marks on their children.
I do believe, however, that I’ve gotten a good education. I’m blessed to live in an area where the public schools are tolerable. So, just because I don’t attend Smartshire Academy for the Gifted and Rich doesn’t mean I’m uneducated. Don’t ever look down on me because I go to public school. So yes, I’m getting some good education. Unfortunately, what often happens is that where there are great schools, there is enormous pressure. I understand that it’s awesome to have a healthy challenge, but challenging and stressful to the point of having emotional breakdowns is not healthy. And yes, many students are buckling under the stress.
Every time I try to speak my mind about this, I get crap about it. “You’re just not grateful for what you have!” “There are kids who’d kill for an education like yours!” “You’re just a whiny kid!” Okay. These people really bother me. These are the same people who tell you to “just stop” being depressed. They really get on me, you know? Just because kids in third-world countries would love to have our education does not mean that there aren’t problems with our education that should be fixed. That’s like getting a cut on your leg and not treating it because “oh well, there are people with worse cuts.” That’s the logic they’re using, and it really bugs me. And by really, I mean I-want-to-shove-them-in-a-box really. I mean, how would they like their problems belittled? Maybe they’re handling the stress okay, but are their lives totally free of all issues? No. Everyone has issues. Everyone is messed up in some way. Just because my issues aren’t the same as theirs doesn’t mean I can’t have them.
Anyway, a lot of people don’t even feel safe at school. I know I didn’t. It’s gotten better now (my high school is exponentially better than my middle school was) but I’m not everybody. I’m trying to speak for those who aren’t as good as voicing what they’re feeling. I want to use my gift of writing/expressing a feeling or opinion to help those who aren’t as gifted in that particular area. So all these kids who don’t feel safe at school–what about them? I can honestly say that for several years of my life, I did not feel safe at school. Sometimes in middle school, I even feared for my safety. It’s even worse that teachers are made aware of issues and don’t even lift a finger to intervene when it’s really necessary. School is hard enough without being attacked. It’s not fair to have to wake up early every morning and go to a place where I feel unsafe, and where the adults in charge do not do their job when I feel unsafe. Yeah, you wonder why I’m bitter toward teachers and school personnel? When I needed them to intervene, they didn’t. I don’t why they didn’t, but they did. Their negligence left the situation to be handled by the ten- and eleven-year-old student. That’s just flat-out wrong. I understand that it’s important to stick up for oneself–which I admittedly did not do–but when things get out of hand, there needs to be intervention. The school system tells us to alert adults of these issues, but they don’t tell us what to do when the adults refuse to help or live in denial of the issues.
But I don’t want to blame the teachers for everything. No, I want to go all the way to the top. Teachers can’t help that they have to teach to the test. Whose fault is it? The superintendent? The state? F-cking Obama? This can’t be placed on one person’s shoulders. I hate being that person who puts all the blame on one person. (True story: in seventh grade, an acquaintance of mine came up to me and said “I am now blaming you for every single one of my problems. It’s all your fault.”) I want to know who’s fault is this. I don’t want to be taught wrong. Yes, sometimes, especially in history, our teachers have had to apologize to us because they’re being forced to teach material that isn’t true. Who is making us learn this? Because I do value my education, I want to be educated right. Nobody likes that person who claims to be smart, but really doesn’t know what she’s talking about. I don’t want to be that person. I want to know it correctly! Is that too much to ask of a school board whose job is to make sure I’m learning?
Back to the teachers. I’ve had some amazing teachers. We all have. They really care about the students, they’re funny, and they make the school day a tiny bit more bearable. I’ve had some awful teachers, too. Well, maybe they haven’t been awful at teaching, but there is a lot more to being a teacher than just showing students how to graph on a coordinate plane. Even I, an imbecilic young student, know that.
The adults aren’t the only ones to blame. I don’t appreciate students who slack off and cheat. It’s not fair to those of us who actually attempt to put an effort in. It’s not fair that their grades are fine–not because they tried, but because they used another person’s effort. I don’t appreciate students who are so incredibly disrespectful to teachers. Yeah, teachers can be the worst people ever sometimes, but nobody deserves to be treated so horribly. If a teacher is doing you wrong–and I don’t mean assigning homework, I mean if he or she is actually being rude or condescending to you– then speak your mind–but don’t start throwing insults around. That’s not going to get you anywhere. It’s just going to make you look like a self-centered brat.
I have more to say, but I’m done with this post. All I have left to say is this: question authority.
Have a nice rest of the evening.