The Inevitable Demand — What Students Want Most From High School

“When will I ever use this in life?” Nothing comes close to the mass ubiquity of these

“When will I ever use this in life?”

Nothing comes close to the mass ubiquity of these words. This phrase has become one that, at multiple times or another, graced the lips of High School students everywhere, whether it be in the presence of an open textbook, a midterm, or that piece of notebook paper that dawns more random doodles on its rims than actual notes. The question itself has become a slogan, more or less, its usage only second to the inevitable “Wait, that was due today?”

Admittedly, I find myself asking this question (and, with shame, the second as well) on a regular basis. Sometimes more often in certain subjects than others, it’s inevitable, it seems, to avoid its occurrence. I know for certain that other students have come across this dilemma as much as I have and, supposing that a similar thought process is formed between the collective student body and I, it is the promise of a measly High School diploma that keeps us from slacking too far.

The well runs dry often, however.

The situation is best exemplified by my hapless venture into a foreign language during my sophomore year: Honors French. I remember vividly the first assignment given to us prior to learning how to conjugate the same verb twelve different ways five times over: to write an essay about how French is utilized in your future career.

At the time, I devoted much of my passion that wasn’t writing related to the medical field; seeing how the body, as intricate as it was, work in unison albeit in different “gears” and “systems” appealed to me since I was a child, and having this conflated with my innate “Nigerian altruism” as they call, it was only imperative that I see myself somewhere in an emergency room in scrubs saying words like “prognosis” and “scalpel, nurse” at random intervals.

Something more severe than writer’s block hit me that night.

Unless I was to flat out study in France, I found only sparse threads of commonality between the language and where I saw myself in years to come. It came to my knowledge that others had the same dilemma as well — future nurses, entrepreneurs, elementary teachers, directors. The minuscule correlation between what was being taught and what was needed was virtually negligible, I thought, and likewise, my enthusiasm for the course suffered. It still marvels me to this day that I managed passed the class.

Now, this all wasn’t written in insinuate that what I devoted an entire school year to was a waste: I understood as much that French has its place in the professional world and I still humor myself from time to time when I’m able to translate a few words here and there on random occasions. But what impressed on me that day was the motif of education, the true punctuation of the High School career: that students are being bred with skills interpreted to have higher meaning later on in life rather than tailoring to the long run itself.

This logic is seemingly flawless supposing one strived to make a circle, not a square. Modern education envisions a well rounded, communal individual that minimally excels in any and all subjects. If you had read my last article, Pointed, you would know that such a feat cannot be possible or, at the very least, can done but not to its intended extent.

And thus we come back to the inevitable. The catchphrase of my Sophomore year:

“When will I ever use this in life?”

Take this phrase as a statement rather than a question; push back the initial veil of apathy and disinterest and you begin to realize that it is a demand, a call to action — if what I’m learning now holds only a latent influence on my desired profession, show me something that shows immediate usefulness that I want to learn.

Best stated, the phrase adapts to something more along the lines as “Show me something that will impact me for a lifetime, a type of knowledge that’s desired rather than dictated.”

I write this knowing very well that they won’t allow me to explore a live hypothalamus or poke at the Aortic valve of a patient while is blood is still pumping. I write with the forbearing knowledge that no school would ever invest so heavily into teen entrepreneurship as the fate of failure seems, in their eyes, comically imminent.

I write with the consolation that a group of like minded students at SecondGen strive to achieve a type of experience not offered exclusively by a classroom where there is no concept of pass or fail with this type of education.

Only live, learn, take notes and repeat.

– Michael A.

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