“I don’t love studying, I hate studying. I like learning. Learning is beautiful”
Before you try to correct me, let me explain that they are not the same.
Learning is a thing of passion, learning is a thing ingrained in human beings from the moment they are born and it is a thing that we perform every second of every day. Learning is the acquisition of skills. It is knowledge through experiences and interaction. It is how we develop as people in this world.
Studying is cramming over textbooks and notebooks. It is being forced to accept information that may or may not be necessary in our lives. It is being forced into a system that spits out a well-oiled machine and not a human being.
The education system we follow now is one that has been made by people who have forgotten what it feels like to be a student, and what it feels like to be a teacher. The education system we follow does not care for the comfort or the health of its students but it cares instead for the money rolling into their pockets.
To the system, we are not humans, we are not children – we are money. And our teachers are mere slaves under this system. They are puppets who don’t have a say in a system.
When did these children who were filled with wonder and love for learning become teenagers with bags under their eyes and thoughts of dropping out or killing themselves? Who was the cause for this? What was the reason for student deaths? Where did factors like stress, depression, fear and other mental problems begin? Was it us? Is it our fault? Are we the ones who are to blame for the loss of our dreams?
As students, we are shut down when we speak out. We are told our ideas aren’t possibly good enough for the world because we’re young. Ironic, since we are also told that we are the future. Do you think that the future was made of well-groomed people with the same mindset as their elders? N0, the adults who were told off as children, who were insulted for their brilliance – they were the ones who paved the future.
All the brilliant men and women, geniuses in art, literature, music, sport and education, were told as children that their ideas were stupid. Today they are praised and followed. And I do not mean only in the field of science or mathematics.
Can you imagine how many more Isaac Newtons and Marie Curies we would have; how many more Leonardo da Vincis and Sarojini Naidus; how many more Simone Biles and Usain Bolts we would have in the world today if the dreams of children weren’t discarded as dreams.
We are told that the grades we get on tests define our intelligence. We are told that these grades are what decide our future and we believe it. We believe it and we toss away our dreams. We are tested on things we are not good at, things we have no talent in and then we are told that we are lazy and stupid because our results weren’t perfect. The worst part is that we believe it.
We are given one opportunity to learn the material. If we don’t know it – ‘oh well’. If we say we don’t understand the topic most teachers will say “Then pay attention because half the class gets it.” We are not the same. We are as different as each of our fingerprints. We have different methods of understanding – we all have different paces, which we follow. This was best explained by Einstein, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid”
We are pitched against one another for grades and then told to help each other. Where do you think this unhealthy competition starts? Students spend a bulk of their day in a classroom, being told what to think and how to speak. We are told how to dress and who we’re allowed to talk to. We are being cut into similar boxes – our individuality and creativity is being curtailed. To be conditioned until we fit into a ‘one-size-fits-all’ society.
Is this what it means to think? Is this what it means to be an individual?
What exactly is school preparing us for? Is this the real world? Is the real world full of walls? Does the real world have a dress code? And does the real world tell us who we can and cannot talk to? Is the real world going to say no and punish us when we say yes? If so, I don’t want to be part of that world.
Actually let me ask a better question: how many students have stopped and said yes after they’ve been told no? How many students have defended their case when they were completely aware that they were right??
Children are afraid of the repercussions of their actions because they know that they have no rights in a school. How sad is it that some children may think of school as their safe place because of unfortunate situations at home but even this safe place is not exactly safe. They are still afraid of the adults here, the other students they should be considering their support systems are still burdened by stress and the fear of judgement.
Another thing that confuses me are the dress codes. A boy may be more distracted by his phone or a bird flying outside, than a girl’s shoulder being on display. School dress codes are doing nothing but teaching young and impressionable children that what we look like matters more than our education.
What I mean, ask ourselves how many times have you stopped a student or how many times have you been stopped as a student because your skirt was a little short or your hair too long? How many times has the threat of being sent home been issued for matters regarding school dress codes?
Clothes are merely pieces of cloth we drape over us to cover ourselves and it should be treated as such.
Another problem here is that we as students blame our teachers but honestly – what are they to do? Teachers are so important to this world, how else do we become who we are? Yes, our parents bring us up but we spend more time with our teachers than we do with our parents. In some cases, our teachers know us better than our parents.
What does this education system do to our teachers? They are underpaid, they are insulted and they are mocked. Why aren’t teachers respected more? They are the foundation of our world. A teacher is not a person who stands in front of a class and preaches their subject. A teacher is someone who reaches the heart and mind of a student, a teacher is someone who makes the student feel safe and comfortable.
I’ve been taught by so many wonderful teachers, I’ve interacted with so many wonderful teachers who not only have taught me their subject but also the way to be a good human. Off the top of my head, one teacher who I will have great difficulty forgetting is Mrs. Susan Gowda, my English language teacher. She has taught me not only her subjects but also how to be responsible, how to be caring and good to others.
Our teachers are not the problem and they have never been the problem. They are puppets under the system that gives them no other option. They are under a system which thinks that homework and standardised tests are the way to success. These are the ways to overwork a student. It is the way to stress someone out to the point of exhaustion.
How many students actually pray to fall sick or for a natural calamity to occur just so they can skip school? This is not because we’re lazy; it’s because we are tired and we don’t want to face another day.
The average student’s schedule goes like this: they wake up as early as five in the morning and get ready for school, spend more than eight hours at school, they return home tired and exhausted, but have tuitions. Later that night, there is homework, tests to study for, portions to revise and by the time they’re done – it’s late. This is the average day. You don’t want to hear the schedule during exam season.
What about our teachers? Their schedules are definitely beyond exhausting. They have to take care of us all day and then go home and do the same with their own families. They have work they must complete for school and most of them work on weekends and holidays as well.
If our education system wants to truly make us ready for the future then teach us how to be respectful, teach us how to speak and express ourselves. Teach us the meaning of humanity and allow us to teach you. Allow us, the youth, the people whose minds have not yet been corrupted by prejudice and social constructs to teach you.
So, I conclude by saying that it’s not our fault and neither is it the fault of our teachers but it is the fault of the system.
“We are not people, we are MONEY.”