TED Conversations

This conversation is closed. Start a new conversation
or join one »

School, a chance to explore or a chance to conform?

I am currently a high school junior and growing up everyone always said the high school years are the best of your life. However, I could not disagree more with that. In school, I have one class that I actually learn something in and the rest is just review for me and I'm simply bored out of my mind I just want to get out of the four walls of school and learn outside of when the civil war happened or the present tense conjugation of leer or read Robert Frost for the millionth time. Personally, when I get bored I selectively choose not to do anything I'm not forced to do and of course that lands me in heaps of trouble because I turn around and I'm failing a class that I'm "good in". Let's take the current English example, we start a new semester and we're not learning anything we just sit there until the idiots and fools understand (a problem with having the honors and regular kids in the same class). When they finally do understand we sit as the teacher goes over something I learned years ago but has never even been mentioned seemingly to anyone else. So my question is what am I exploring, what is so wonderful about it? My feelings are that the production of C students is on the rise because no one cares enough to produce anything better therefore you just have kids fitting a mold instead of breaking it. While I recognize something like K12 as an option, most parents don't and refuse to let their child participate in something like that besides the fact that they are literally suffering in school, this could be because they are super artsy, want to explore, are bored or are just too smart or like me are a deadly combo of all of those things. Every parent gives their own reasons for example, socializing or my dad's favorite "online school isn't perfected yet".

Thoughts and experiences encouraged.

+2
Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Jan 27 2013: Here is one perspective that may give you additional ideas, by David Foster Wallace: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122178211966454607.html. [Part of this was recently read at Aaron Swartz's memorial service, because he particularly respected DFW].
    • thumb
      Jan 27 2013: I used to be that man. I am so glad that I am no longer that man. I would not want that man giving advice to my child.
      • thumb
        Jan 27 2013: Smart kids benefit from seeing lots of perspectives, I think. They will find truth in some and also things with which they will disagree. They need to learn to wrestle with ideas to understand different people's truths.

        Some people will say to make the most of situations in which you find yourself and to choose your own ways of viewing them.

        Some will say school is a fraud aimed at brainwashing and demoralizing you.

        If there is anything young people need to learn, it is to consider a range of views rather than to jump on board any easy one.
        • thumb
          Jan 27 2013: All kids, not just smart ones, do benefit from seeing lots of perspectives, I think. Melia is not just a smart kind. Melia is extraordinary.

          In my opinion, I do not offer any easy solution to jump on board with, and your suggestion that I do is a bit offensive. I offer the most difficult and rewarding - to discover self and hold self sacred. To not-sacrifice self on the alter of social/economic acceptance, which calls for mediocrity. To refuse to go to a miserable challenging job day after day because that is what is expected - just as sitting in class enduring old mindless lessons is expected when so many other learning opportunities exist. To have a different "default view" than the sad one that D Wallace maintains.

          Default views are "formed". It takes the ability to understand differences, to be sure. But to offer as wise counsel, words from one who devalues the individual so much as Wallace does, when Melia is already recognizing the devaluation felt every single day, does no service. It harms. It is another attack on the essence of who one is. It was a VERY bleak speech.

          You assume that Melia doesn't already know what Wallace talks about. I don't assume that. I may be wrong. I think that Melia has already figured much of it out.

          Does Melia need more education? Absolutely! No true education ever comes to an end. Does Melia need more structure than wanted? Yes. Discipline is an essential life-skill. Without it, life is too painful. But there are better ways to learn self-discipline than to spend 34 hours a week being emotionally and intellectually tortured!

          Wallace says that the individuals aren't the center of their worlds. I vehemently disagree. We are each the captains of our ships. Those who choose to settle carry that choice forward at a cost. There ARE other choices.

          Keep the dream alive, Melia. Here is a valedictorian speech that addresses your concerns, as I understand them:
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwGDgAUPAT
      • thumb
        Jan 27 2013: DFW did not go to an unchallenging day job day after day and does not recommend it to others. He certainly did not live a life about social and economic acceptance nor counsel that to others! He did urge a reflective stance that doesn't make assumptions about others blindly. And to call him or his worldview one of embracing mediocrity is, I think, very misplaced. It is easy enough to read up on him to verify any of this.

        Melia has options. Gifted and talented kids often find themselves in her position, depending on whether their schools have offerings appropriate to their needs, so there is an array of high quality avenues and resources to supplement, custo mize, and sometimes replace curriculum that meets the needs these kids have that others may not. I offered some of which I am very aware in my own response to her.
        • thumb
          Jan 27 2013: The difference between Melia and a typical gifted student, is that Melia is "self-aware". She has awakened. She has discovered her "SELF". There are so few people in the world who experience this, she probably has no one around that even knows what she means when she tries to talk about it. It is certainly obvious that DFW is not awakened, however happy or unhappy he is with his life. No awakened person would have given that speech.

          It would be nice if public education were able to address the needs of an awakened student. At present, it's just not possible - given that there is not so much as an acknowledgement that such a state of existence exists. She might well meet some mentors in college. I hope so. It would be a real shame to throw away (through misdirection) such a talent through lack of recognition of exactly what the talent is.

          Meanwhile, she is a captive in a world that doesn't fit, and that is a painful thing to endure. It's like being a 3-dimensional being living in a 2-dimensional world. She needs far more than just more challenging courses about things that will matter little in her adult life. She needs awakened teachers to make learning relevant - to introduce her to the depths and joys of her incredible mind. Her frustration tells me that she needs to understand so much that high school does not and cannot teach her. She needs to have subjects approached differently, with her unacknowledged abilities addressed. What teacher in a class of about 30 can give such specialized attention to each student? Especially if the teacher has never plumbed the depths of his/her mind and incredible powers.

          Thankfully, more and more people are waking up. She will find others from time to time. What to do in the meantime is the issue at hand. She must learn how to make the shift that high school doesn't address or acknowledge.

          Milia: Forgive us for talking about U in 3rd person. Just do the best you can. You'll survive to graduation. :-)
      • thumb
        Jan 27 2013: You might be surprised at how many gifted kids are very much in Melia's position and reflect on and articulate their awareness in just this way. And there are college level and differently taught courses that such kids can pursue if they know how to find them. School districts often have specialists in gifted ed who know what is available locally and online. Truly gifted kids tend to be advanced metacognitively rather than only cognitively.

        David Foster Wallace was bipolar, a philosopher and creative genius, who took his own life. He felt the world's pains strongly.
        • Jan 29 2013: Out of of all of the comments I have read this thread is my favorite. Mostly because TED lover is actually someone who understands me, and the fact that she or he doesn't even know me just absolutely blows my mind.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.