As a child, the desire to learn was an integral part of me. There was nothing that I saw that did not get a ‘how’ question from me. Surely, this was an annoying trait for all the adults around me, but I needed to know how things came to be. As a teenager now, I am extremely grateful that I had not let go of my curiosity. My curiosity pushed me to learn as much as I can, and still feel like I don’t know enough. I know that I will never know enough, but one can only hope to acquaint himself with as much knowledge as he can in his finite life.
However, growing up also made me realize the privileges I have in the area of education over others. I have come to know that not everyone has the ability to get into a good school system. I found that teachers could sometimes be bullies, and that hatred for school is not hatred towards knowledge, but hatred and despise for the way kids are treated. From the first time we ever attend a class in kindergarten and we’re entranced by numbers, letters and how we can relate them to things we see around us. So, what changes after kindergarten and middle school?
I think the problem is school and studying start to feel like a burden, thus generating a lot of negative emotions from students. The stress the exams bring, and the obligation from society and your parents to get good grades, can make anyone turned off from the idea of learning. I feel like students become programmed to fit a specific criterion to be deemed successful. When in fact our cognitive abilities differ from each other and not all of us are able to conform to the standardized curriculums and school systems. I have seen students feel like they’re not fit for education, that it’s just not their thing, just because they failed a subject. I have seen students give up entirely on acquiring a high school degree because teachers used the word ‘stupid’ way too loosely. The degradation of students should not be thought of as a way of encouragement, because in reality it does nothing but demotivate us.
Let us not forget how mental illnesses come into play. Students who deal with dyslexia and ADHD suffer greatly when it comes to school. A student might even remain undiagnosed due to elders thinking he’s a definite failure. Students who suffer from various types of mental disorders often do not get the support they need, be it from their parents or teachers. A lot of the time they have to face it alone, in fear of being thought of their illness as way of hyperbolically procrastinating.
I believe our educational system will not make any progress unless every student is being cared for. We need to acknowledge the fact that human beings are a whole spectrum of colors; we can’t mold them into another person. Instead, we should do our all to motivate students to express themselves, to show the world who they are, even if it seems unconventional. We need to urge our children to learn, they must know that knowledge will never perish. Any knowledge is worth our time. We can’t emphasize how they do in school because with our current educational systems it can never be an actual measure.
Our curriculum and way of teaching should be adjusted for each type of student. We should not adapt to a failing system! But rather the system changes for us. I can still remember vividly the countless sleepless nights I spent on exam nights out of sheer anxiety. If it weren’t for my understanding for the need to learn, I would’ve surely hated the idea of opening a book. And to be honest, a part of me does hate how far I go to succeed in a faulty program. Nevertheless, learning has never been something optional for me, if I am not learning then what am I doing?
We should always strive to have education as fun and meaningful for students as it can be. Teachers should know how to deal with a student suffering from any mental illness and offer the needed support. Special ways of teaching should be introduced to make learning something interesting, because in fact it is! Good school systems should be available for everyone regardless of race, gender, religion or social class. How is it that we teach our children fairness, justice and equality when they can’t even get as good education as others only because of something meaningless as their finances and social class?
Education should not be a privilege. I grew up thinking it was normal to receive good quality education just to be slapped in the face when I am older. However, I will not feel guilty for my privilege; rather try to do as best as I can with it to help less fortunate people. It is incredibly easy to get someone excited about learning; all you need to do is find their passion, wherever it lies. We need to stop programming students to be the same person, and instead let them roam free with their ideas and find something they truly care about. And unfortunately, that won’t happen unless we admit that our educational system is not good, and definitely not okay.