I’m going to talk a little about the school system. I get disillusioned whenever I hear anyone talking about how they think they don’t “need” to know math or history or something or other for what they think their “career” plan is. Maybe it’s just because I’m the type of person who really wants to learn everything. I took calculus just to expose myself to it, I’m taking AP Chemistry right now just because I enjoy it and it doesn’t have a thing to do with my career plan (although I’ve been questioning how much I enjoy it lately). Maybe that’s just my thing, but it breaks my soul when I hear people say they don’t need to know anything about history, because they’re going to be a science major or something. I think that as human beings, it’s our obligation to at least know where we come from. It really pains me that some people find it unimportant and boring and useless.
Maybe it is just my senseless eccentricity, wanting to expose myself to everything and know all about the basic workings of the world even if they don’t help me be the best cog in the machine that I can be. Maybe because I don’t ever want to feel like I am one. Or maybe I am stupid and close-minded for wanting to discard the possibility for that kind of harmony, the chance to really be a part of something and responsible for maybe not the whole, but at least the part of it that’s needed for the whole to work.
So I suppose that’s hypocritical of me, but so is everything I say. After all, it’s the people who are really focused that run our society. People like me who want everything and maybe don’t know what they want and are dissatisfied with everything and can’t be pinned down can be useless for that kind of thing. Or at least I feel like I’d be useless for helping a society function.
I like to think my being scattered is because I’m a writer and a poet and I need to know about everything and this disorganization fosters creativity, but sometimes it just makes me feel like I’m being pulled apart in every direction.
I think the way our educational system works right now doesn’t give enough opportunity for students to really grow and excel. It’s too sheltered. Learning isn’t really about trying to memorize facts out of a textbook. It’s about having your beliefs challenged. It’s about having the chance to see everything you thought you knew about yourself and the world disproved. Sometimes I feel like there’s this inherent lack of enthusiasm and we could achieve so much if only we all cared about it. I just see all there could be and I get frustrated.
I don’t know how plausible this would be at the high school level, because the courses that have really changed the course of my learning for me have been college-level classes, though not completely, but I don’t know, maybe it’s not possible for that kind of learning to take place unless the students are fully interested. Obviously it has to be a two-way street. But it’s the teacher’s job to get the students interested and push them past the limits they’ve created for themselves in their heads, and sometimes I feel like they’ve given up before they’ve even tried.
Anyway, my point is, this is my least favorite question that I hear asked too often: “Why do I need to know that?” Which is kind of ironic, because I just said it after Eireann read a fun fact off the cap of a Snapple bottle.
Anyway, the observation that I’ve made not just in school, but in general (like when I was directing a play) is that if one person shows enthusiasm about something, it rubs off on everyone around them. If you care about something, it’s easier than it seems to make other people care about it too. I guess it took me a while to realize that, but here we are. I think that it’s in human nature for us to be inherently curious about the world, and anything that quells that is because we’ve created all these imagined boundaries for ourselves of things that we should be interested in and things we should leave alone. I think that’s why so many people are afraid to immerse themselves in the arts. They think, “Oh, I could never be an artist,” “I could never write like you,” just because they’ve never tried it, but the truth is, even for the people who seem naturally inclined, it took years and years of practice just to get to where they are, which may still not be where they want to be. Hopefully it’s not, or what else is there to strive for? My point is, so many people are discouraged from even taking the risk when the truth is that it’s degrading for EVERYONE, whether you’re just starting out or not. I hate that people will set these imaginary boundaries for themselves when they don’t have to exist in the first place. There’s so much potential to tap into, but sometimes it goes invisible for such a long time. I don’t mean to say that I don’t think people will naturally do what they’re inclined towards, but I think our school system should work to erase those imaginary lines, because the most difficult beliefs to challenge are the ones we have about ourselves.