by Madison Marko – Head Photographer
When I think back to my freshman year and what I learned, all that comes to mind is a blank, fuzzy screen, and a small, broken voice that rasps, “the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell”. I think I just remember that because at one time it was a meme. This, academically, is the only small morsel of knowledge that comes to mind when I think back to those nervous, fidgety 180 days of my life.
I have some qualms with the school system.
The system teaches a twisted and useless version of success. To fulfill its demands, you are taught to retain knowledge only for as long as it is relevant—and that is often the day of the test. After the test is over, the information no longer serves you, and so it is gone in a puff of smoke.
Do not fear; you got an A. It does not matter that you only have a vague recollection of the knowledge you used to recite in your sleep three days ago, because you have achieved success. Now, pat yourself on the back and move onto your next fruitless venture.
In this way, the system promotes a careless, uniform, and mundane society. If success ends at personal gain in the form of a few chicken-scratched A’s on your papers, nothing will ever change or grow. Interest in others, the world around us, and passions that you have not explored, will fade.
The kids who will grow up to drive change are not the “school-system-success-stories”, but those who have the courage to write their own purpose and definition of accomplishment. They have not allowed the system to limit them, and constantly work outside of the box. They have pursued what they are passionate about, even if this means pushing aside the system does not inspire them.
The things we remember are the things we care about. Whether that be anthropology, agriculture, or archaeology, if you are passionate about it, it will stick with you.
This is where the school system needs to step up. If I’m not passionate about it, I can try my very hardest to care, but the burden should not be all on the students to desperately try to make long-term meaning out of heaps of information. Teachers need to teach beyond the test, and to do that, the state needs to lighten the burden and stress of standardized testing.
If you do not pass the SBA, you cannot graduate. Those are high stakes. Teachers should be given the freedom to explore and experiment with what works for the long-term benefit of students, without fear that they are withholding knowledge that could keep students from the supposed end-all—graduation.
The Kent School District boasts, “Successfully preparing all students for their futures” on their many domains. Is this true if I graduate uninspired, directionless, with little to show for twelve years of my life except for a transcript of my apparent “success” or “failure”?