It is so easy to become disillusioned that many once-hopeful adolescents revert to apathy. The system of over-testing, memorization based “learning,” and constant (often meaningless) resume building strips students of a desire to learn for the sake of learning. Students are trapped within an excessively limited sphere of what defines success. If one cannot cram themselves into this small, claustrophobic space–they are deemed unsuccessful.
Success in high school, however, determines an important part of a student’s future: college.
Bilo Hoese, senior, said, “When it comes to school, it’s the fact that school has turned into a platform to get into college. Also, the system is ruled by grades, not on the basis of education. This turns what is supposed to be learning into an aspiration for letters.”
Failure to succeed in high school often foreshadows a failure to succeed in college, and therefore later in life. So, if students cannot do well within high school they are led to believe they will fail in later stages as well. They will be non-entities, worthless–perhaps even, homeless.
Such a notion is frightening, propelling some students to do whatever it takes to ensure success, even cheating. Pressure to succumb to the system is overwhelming, because there is no other option. If one does not follow the system, common belief is that they will fail. They will not become functioning members of society, they will not be able to get a “good job” or purchase a “nice house” or be able to provide for their future family. They will be judged by society as a failure–as inferior.
“In essence, the school system has either created carnivores who kill themselves over work and competition with other students in a place which should be closer to a sanctuary or people who believe they have no shot and shouldn’t even try, therefore placing themselves in the dirt when the institution they attend should in reality be helping them rise from that area,” said Hoese.
For those unsuccessful within the system, this is a bleak forecast. Such grim predictions inevitably cause cynicism. The system breaks otherwise brilliant individuals; it attempts to make them uniform, conformist–systematically draining their spirit.
Only certain kinds of students succeed within the system. Those who are unable to adapt to this mold, or those that refuse to, do not succeed–and they will continue to not succeed. Unless something is done. Unless it is recognized that success cannot be determined via scan-tron, that memorization is not the same as application, and that a stacked resume does not prove a student is qualified. Unless we stop mindlessly doing school and start actively thinking about how to make it better.
But before the overall body can be changed though, the mind must heal. Eliminating cynicism and apathy is just the first step in “fixing” school. After general attitudes are altered real progress can occur.
Cynicism, though an easy excuse for not trying, for giving up on school–cannot be a final escape route . Cynicism is just as damaging to students as the system that suppresses them. Disillusionment can never be permitted to dominate–a choice must be made to continue.
The path with the least resistance is often the path most traveled, but cynical individuals must fight the current–in the roughest tides, until calmer water can be reached.
Because even in the blackest night, one’s eyes will eventually adjust. Even in a small, claustrophobic box–there is always a corner of solace. And for every apathetic cynic there must be something to make them believe again.