Back to the Institution

The calendar for the new school year arrived yesterday and it brought with it the realization that school starts in just three weeks. I’m not the least bit saddened by the news. I’m over the hot weather and sitting around doing nothing; I’m ready to learn and create. I enjoy the feeling that comes with being enlightened and gaining knowledge. But now I have read a certain speech by a certain valedictorian, Erica Goldson, during her graduation ceremony at Coxsackie-Athens High School this year, and to say the least it changed my perspective.
She goes into depth about how the American school system focuses too much on goals and creating a brainwashed work force. People always talk about the glory of being top of the class and these people are known as the smartest. I really appreciate how she admits to just succeeding in the system and regretfully says she does not feel she truly learned more than others. She says she doesn’t even know what she wants to do with her life because she never even let herself figure out what she’s interested in. All in all, it scares me. For as long as I can remember in my school career I have always aimed to get A’s. I have not made it my goal to learn and embrace knowledge. Until now. I am saying it here and now that I will be focusing on learning all that I can, not on grades or just getting into a good college. I will aim to take the gifts that we call teachers and let them do their job and teach. It is officially my goal to embrace an educated experience as opposed to getting swept up in the educational system.

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One Response to Back to the Institution

  1. Jake says:

    Fascinating. Though she overreaches sometimes, and gets confused, her speech is good. I would say that she shouldn’t downplay her intelligence; if she can think and write like that, she probably deserves to be valedictorian.
    There is a point to the standard classes/subjects taught in high school. Such subjects are important to know and learn from – and to think about. If taught properly, they do bestow something relevant and important. The problem is that they aren’t taught properly: classes devolve into memorization exercises, and the connection to thinking and the real world is lost. Also, students aren’t always taught to be responsible, that working and learning in school will help them in the real world.
    I would also say that there’s nothing wrong with work as one of the goals of learning. One usually doesn’t become an artist or scientist automatically – a lot of hard work is involved. It’s great to be a scientist, but if you’re inexperienced and bad at it, what good will that do for anyone?
    And finally, I was homeschooled. I learned all the subjects in the typical high school curriculum, and yet everything was connected in some way to everything else, and to the past, the future, the world, and my plans for the future. The point of taking many subjects – some of which might not involve what you plan on doing in the future – is to learn to think in new ways. That’s how you learn – and it’s how new ideas arise. Since I learned such diverse subjects, I now see all the time connections between things like math, philosophy, science, politics, literature – you name it. I suggest looking for connections between subjects; that’s a good way to start thinking about what you’re learning.

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