ART: Dying to Know

Well, I seem to whine and bitch about student loans a lot so I may as well whine and bitch about the cause of student loans too.

 

Education is important. Like really fucking important. Education is the mortar of modern society, the torch lighting the way forward, the foundation of tomorrow. It’s fucking important. And it’s fucking broken.

“How broken?

Well, let’s see, how do I put this?

Broken like an iPhone dropped off the Empire State Building. Or from any height exceeding 4 inches. Broken like the Falcons’ hopes and dreams. Broken like Windows 8. Broken like the L85 before H&K unfucked it. Broken like a Samsung Battery. And the factory that makes Samsung Batteries. Broken like breaks on a 2009 Toyota. Broken like a middle school relationship after 2 months. Broken like the water system in Flint, MI (yep, it’s still a problem.) You get the idea. Shit’s fucked.

Not convinced? Go type in “school makes me” or “school makes me want to” in google. Like literally straight up copy and paste it without the quotations.

I guess the problem with education is that it stopped being about learning.

“What? Learning is literally a synonym of education.”

Yeah. That’s what I thought too. But just hear me out. When was the last time you (or your child(ren)) were excited to go to school? Not just like “oh I can’t wait to make thermite in chem today” or “sweet it’s thanksgiving day at lunch, the food won’t be straight up fucking terrible.” (Which is its own fucking problem, but I’ll burn that bridge another day.) I mean when were you actually excited to go to school on a random ordinary day?

“Never. It’s never happened.”

Yes it has. I can almost guarantee that it has. It’s just been so long since it’s happened that you can’t remember off the top of your head. For me, it’s been over 10 years. Hell, it’s probably closer to around 15 years, give or take a few for the sake of inaccurate memory and principle of anonymity. The last time I remember thinking of school as a place of learning and not the torture chamber in Mordor was way back in elementary school. Why? Partially because shit was easy, partially because I learning stuff that is applicable, partially because there was next to no pressure.

I had time to do other stuff besides homework, extracurricular activities, and other random shit to boost my SAT and ACT and get me into college with a scholarship. Between multiple AP classes, homework, volunteering, random musical bullshit, I was running on about 4 hours of sleep per night. Supplemented with excessive caffeine and self-hate. During “rush times”, exam weeks, competition weeks, anything that exceeded the norm, I could be down to 2 hours of sleep. And I knew people with schedules that had more AP classes, more volunteering, more extracurriculars, and a job. Like seriously. Props to them and their time management. But as it was, I was drinking enough caffiene to kill an elephant.

Recently, as I was procrastinating an essay on Orientalism by Edward Said, I ran across this on my facebook feed:

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At first I attributed it to being typical whiny teen bullshit (the person who posted this is still in highschool) but then I noticed the number in the lower left. It’s not 7 thousand that can relate, it’s 327 thousand.

And it only gets worse.

Yeah I might’ve drank a lot coffee in highschool (blood pressure was floating around 140ish/85ish, so not fantastic but not terrible), but shit is fucking insane in college. I mean people are popping adderall and modafinil pills like they’re hard candies. Like I asked a guy in my Bio class the other day “you know those can kill you right?” as he chugged two Adderall IR pills with his McDonald’s coffee. His response? “Fuck it dude. Test is tuesday and we all gotta die sometime. Might as well die with a good GPA, but you already understand that.”

 

That’s when it hit me. Yeah. I do understand. I’ve understood for as long as I can remember. I’ve understood for as long as I’ve hated school. I’ve understood for as long as school has stopped being about learning and started being about numbers between 0 and 4.0 or the first 5 letters of the alphabet, bar “e”.

I’ve understood for as long as getting the grade became more important than learning the material. And so have so many others. Neil deGrasse Tyson once tweeted “when students cheat on exams it’s because our School System values grades more than Students value learning”. I laughed. Then glanced at the screen of the computer next to me, and copied the answer he was googling.

For some reason, our generation holds college as this almost mystical place. Not of knowledge, mind you, but as a mystical bus stop to a 6 digit salary. So now, there’s a metric fuckton of kids fucking up their bodies in college or trying to get there. People giving up other hobbies to take classes just to raise their SATs by 50 points. I don’t know who, but someone perpetuated the idea that if you don’t go to college, you can’t make a living. And society bought it. Man society bought that shit like it was Black Friday.

I bet they were part of the higher education system because said system is making fucking bank. Over $200 for a single textbook. That we never actually use. And the class requires 2 other textbooks. Which coincidentally happen to be written by the professor. $50 for membership to some program for a semester. That is only used to take attendance. Specially sized beds in the dorms that only accept specially sized bed covers. Entire lines of products being customed tailored to “college-bound students.” It’s a fucking joke.

I guess plumbers, electricians, carpenters are all homeless and starving. I guess everyone knows how to replace a water heater. I guess being a garbage man really does suck despite the union benefits and salary of nearly $90,000 after 5 years. I guess everyone who graduates with any degree whatsofuckingever makes a million a year.

Ok I actually can’t keep this up. Point is, education should be more than just shoving individually-shaped pegs into the square hole that is college. All that’s doing is causing pain and suffering, and depreciating the value of college degrees.

Education should be focused on the kids. Developing them to their potential. Teaching them about things they will actually need in life, and not how to find the derivative of an imaginary number. Maybe then, the next generation won’t consist of 25 year olds burdened by a comical amount of student loans, who need to pay $150 to some electrician because no one ever taught them out to change a faulty outlet.

 

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