My Love/Hate Relationship with High School

By James W.

Being in my mid teens and having more than my fair share of adolescent hormones and the mood swings to go with them, I find myself in a highly unstable and volatile relationship with my school, and more generally, our modern day education system. I’ve been in this committed relationship for more than 11 years and have been with 4 different schools in 3 different states, so I have plenty to love as well as plenty to hate.

First and foremost, I often find myself asking:

Why do we need schools? What are they even useful for?

With the internet and advancements in educational technology, it can be hard to find a real use for physical teaching and learning nowadays. I mean, why should we, as students and more importantly, eager lifelong learners, spend hours on end sitting in dull classrooms toiling through boring and repetitive lectures delivered by teachers who have yet to convince us of their passion for what they are teaching? Especially when we can gain the same type of knowledge by experiencing our daily adventures first hand, why should we be reading from textbooks and memorizing facts that we all know we will more than likely never use in our day-to-day lives?

It’s a lot of questions, I would know; I have had to deal with the plethora of these types of thought-provoking yet seeming unanswerable questions throughout my tenure as an ‘educatee’. At times, it seems that our tough education is society trying to get back at us for being the annoying brats that we often tend to be. Surely Elementary, Middle and High School education is just a overture for what students have yet to encounter in their years at undergraduates, graduates and everyday global citizens. Right? Thinking that Primary and Secondary Education should serve as a crash-course for every skill you might need in life you’d be wrong, and quite completely. Rather, it seems that the way humanity has intended for students to learn is by giving them a taste of what they might expect when they grow older. But the problem with this ideology is that it leaves practically no room to get a head start on your life right from the get-go. This can be quite annoying to a lot of students, especially those who (like me) have had their minds set on their career path since the 4th Grade; this system does not allow for growth as an intellectual being. It’s easy to get sucked into thinking that our educational institutions are stacked against us, that the system is set up to ensure maximal and continuous failure.

But my education has brought be a certain set of daily joys that I could never have hoped to experience any other way. My education has allowed me to interact socially and intellectually with people my age, a type of interaction I would have never received outside of an institution such as Middle or High School. Moreover, my classes have provided a platform upon which I develop mentally, physically and emotionally by providing me with opportunities to better myself as a human being. There are days where I, unlike most high school aged teens, wake up excited to go to school, to learn new things and to talk with my peers and teachers.

But then again, there are also days where I dread having to return to the place where, just a day ago, I experienced heart-break, extreme emotional pain and, immediately upon arrival, was greeted with an unwelcoming attitude and atmosphere; an environment where the people next to you (including teachers) hate school as much as you.

As you can see, I have had plenty to discuss (with my mercurial self) over the years. From hating school to loving school to hating school all over again, I just can’t seem to make up my mind on where I stand about one of the most important life experiences that society can throw at me. I am stuck between agreeing with society and believing the notion that education is supposed to be tough and, at times, pointless and accepting what popular culture has taught me; everything should be as easy and as fun as possible to ensure we associate learning with some of the many positive aspects of life, like games, social interaction and physical engagement.

Because of this philosophical predicament that I have found myself entangled in again and again, I have sometimes resorted to trying to reconcile the pro- and anti-school arguments by simply pretending to accept that the modern school system has been, is and will always be an unsolvable puzzle meant to confuse and divide students and teachers alike. But herein lies my frustration;

We can’t just ignore things in life that we think are too hard to answer or settle for things we don’t like. We have to challenge everything, hold nothing as a given, and always assume that there has to be another side to the argument.

And I think, looking back at it, my education has led me to believe this philosophy more than anything else. My schooling has taught me one thing. And that’s to be open to trying new things and looking at situations from multiple and widely different perspectives.

“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.” — Marcus Aurelius
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