Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Last week I took a test in one of my classes that didn't go very well. I didn't really study until a few hours before, and I only did a quick cram of the chapters. Imagine my surprise when the test scores were posted and I got a perfect score, after the curve. At first, I was excited that I did well, and a little proud. Then, I realized the implications of my grade, and these feelings dimmed a bit. The people who are in this class with me are the same ones that are in most of my classes, and that have been in classes with me or the past two years. Some of them are very nosy.
There was an incident a few months ago when one of these girls asked me what grade I got on a test. I told her, she told someone else, who told the rest of the class. The next class day, I walk in and the whole class is angry with me, because if I hadn't done so well the curve would be lower, and they would have gotten better grades. That time I shrugged it off by saying sorry. A couple of weeks after that I was welcomed to class with warnings to not do well on the test...for a class that I'm not taking. Am I really that threatening?
As I sat at the desk at work yesterday, I thought about this situation, and how there might be a chance that my classmates would get upset because I did well on the test, and then I would have to apologize. The more I thought about this, the more angry I became. Why should I have to apologize for doing something well? Is it really my fault that other people's grades are poor? No, it absolutely is not.
Despite what people say, intelligence is looked down on. Smart people, instead of being rewarded for it, are stigmatized, bullied, and shunned. You know what I'm talking about; tumblr loves pictures of pretty girls on sunny hills reading books, but in the real world we're dorks, nerds, freaks; frizzy haired social outcasts that the world ignores. Teachers and officials worry over graduation rates and test scores; I think the more important issue to address is the cultural value that we put on education. People aren't in school to learn, they're here to get a piece of paper. I understand that there has to be a way to measure learning in order to know if progress is being made, but the system that we have is not working. Why is it not okay to do your homework? I've discovered that the quickest way to bond with a new friend is to complain about school work, or to claim that you didn't do it. I thought college would mean being surrounded by people who do their work with enthusiasm, people who want to continue class discussions outside of the classroom. While I have found a few friends who do those things, for the most part, people go to college because their parents said that they have to. They don't actually care about learning, and this just becomes a continuation of high school.
I don't know how to change the culture of education, but it needs changing. This is an issue that I have struggled with my whole life. The line about smart people being bullied and shunned wasn't pulled out of thin air. I don't know what I can do to change the education system into a culture of learning. I'm a big fan of macro change through law, but I don't think that this is an area where that technique could work. This kind of change has to be spread through individual contact. This means teaching kids when they're young that school isn't about getting good grades, but about learning things, and that it's ok for other people to do better than you, or to do better than other people. As of right now, I don't have any kids to pass this idea on to, so I'm going to settle for trying to change myself; to fix what this educational culture has done to me. I'm not going to apologize for being smart anymore. I won't take the blame for someone else's failure.
DFTBA. What else can we do?