Maeve’s De-Classified School Survival Guide
Growing up, I was a child of phases.
I blame a lot of the movies I watched and the celebrities I looked up to, but in the end my capriciousness was all my own, nonetheless.
Doctors told me I had the kind of ADD that was easy to hide because I wasn’t, quote-unquote: annoying. (In reference to the hyper-activity commonly found in kids with ADD).
Which meant all the annoying stuff was going on internally rather than externally.
And when my parents were being told I should skip a grade one year, and that I needed extra support the next, no one really knew what to think.
I was obviously pleased with myself; being the source of unintentional commotion among grown-ups. It was here, in the midst of one of the most confusing times for myself as a student, where I developed two principles of learning: community & individuality.
You know that saying about learning and not teaching a fish to climb a tree? That is me. I am the fish. I am the fish who actually starts climbing the tree and then when no one says anything about my being a fish out of water, I will fall down dramatically so people get the point.
Individuality is important as it allows me to be in control of my education (ie. find my own tree to climb).
Community is important because without it, I’ll grow too keen on individuality. As described in the book, The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age, “participatory learning, includes the many ways that learners (of any age) use new technologies to participate in virtual communities where they share ideas, comment on one another’s projects, and plan, design, implement, advance, or simply discuss their practices, goals, and ideas together.”
My third educational principle is balance (but work really hard), because if I were to only participate in the parts of school that I love, I wouldn’t really be growing up. At the same time, if I actually listened to the irrational academic habits expected of me all those years, I would have lost sight of what’s important. I think as humans we are more capable than we like to think, so by balance I guess I mean: work harder than I want to but don’t get weird about it.
The fourth, and what I feel is most important, educational principle for myself personally, is intention.
This one sort of keeps all the other principles in line.
The other day someone asked me how I became so motivated to do my homework all the time. (This is a really strange yet flattering question for someone like myself, who almost failed out her freshman year of high school).
Instinctively, I told her it was because I think learning is really important and that I don’t really care what grade I get so long as I gain something from doing the work. Which sounds like bull shit, but it’s true! I suck at school but I’m really career-driven, so I relate everything back to that. For what I want to do, I think it’s important that I am able to understand how to understand, if you will. As mentioned in Goodson’s piece on Digital Media in the Digital Age, “participatory learning is about a process, not a final product” (15).
Which brings me to my last and final principle: perspective!
I almost did a beauty pageant once, and when my sister was practicing questions with me she made a really stupid, but legitimate point, when giving me advice about how to answer.
First, she said to stop making my voice go higher when answering.
And then she said, with one hand on her hip and the other holding a pretend microphone,
“If I could change one thing about the world, it would be… Perspective.”
She waited a moment before looking to me and saying,
She was right.
There are loads to be said about the middle ground between perspective and truth, yada yada yada, but if perspective truly does determine the choices a person makes, then I think it should be among by 5 educational principles. Learning how to build your own perspective isn’t really shit on it’s own, but along side community, balance, intention, and individuality, it makes up an incredibly worthwhile education.