Why Do I Go To School?

Why do I go to school everyday? Waking up at 6:00 each morning has become so routine for me that I rarely pause to question my motivation for enduring a 7 hour school day that consumes my thoughts, even after the final bell rings.

Perhaps in an ideal society, one could claim that my academic dedication is driven by pure curiosity and a mere desire to learn. However, in a school system where students are consistently running on 5 hours of sleep, enrolling in as many classes with an “AP” title as possible, and exchanging test answers between periods, it seems difficult to defend this claim. High school students today are under more stress than ever before, living in a cut-throat academic setting where students constantly compete with one another for the top class ranking. This pressurized atmosphere suffocating many students is continuously fueled by values in our current education system.

In our society, school and education are synonymous, and without schooling, our interpretations of education would differ greatly. In order to be an educated citizen, society tells us that you need to be a successful student. Despite the endless open doors of opportunity provided by our school systems, they simultaneously face a fatal flaw in their number idolization, which is the foundation of our education, and chips away at students’ motivation, stamina, and identity.

Although to some degree it is necessary, the seemingly simple grading procedure students universally experience has become so common that we fail to acknowledge the possible damage it causes for students. Grading practices effectively are able to categorize student work by quality as perceived by the teacher, which proves to be valuable during the college application process where colleges must flip through thousands of applications and therefore need an efficient way of comparing prospective students.

However, the process of grading quite literally takes the work of a student, strips away the thought process and effort exerted by the student, and labels it as a single number that claims to identify the overall quality of that student’s work. Logically pondering this process, it is difficult to comprehend how many hours of time spent towards a project that students use to express their perspectives and opinions on various topics can be compressed into a single number that defines the value of the student’s work. By stripping away external factors that play a role in school work and transforming assignments into numbers that measure one’s success, students begin to affiliate themselves with these numbers so that by your junior year of high school, your infamous GPA diminishes the value of countless hours and days spent towards school work, and becomes your identity.

It is undeniable that one of the most valuable luxuries I am able to enjoy living in a developed country is an education. The school system I have been a part of since kindergarten has created a platform for me to pursue any subject and career that I choose, which many people do not have the option of. Many students recognize this value of education and use it to their advantage to facilitate their motivation. However, our society has placed an extensive strain on the importance of education and schooling, forcing all students to take part in a system that may not give them the ability to showcase and explore their strengths and interests. Our materialistic society clearly values wealth and money, which are correlated with success., often displayed by one’s house size, car brand, and salary. Often times, our society views those that do not pursue an extensive academic career as incapable of attaining a successful social status. The unfortunate reality that many students face is that an academic school setting does not enable them to demonstrate their different capabilities. However due to the correlation between schooling and wealth, and wealth and success, these students are viewed by teachers and peers as inferior which plays a role in diminishing their self confidence.

Why do I go to school everyday? The reality I have come to terms with is that my motivation is driven by both the realist and idealist perception of education. Although I have a genuine interest in many of my classes, the motivation behind my rigorous “AP” courses, sleep deprivation, and endless classroom hours seems to be more heavily influenced by the weight that my grades carry towards my identity, because as society has shaped me to believe, my GPA is a measure of my intelligence, my potential, and my education.

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