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School or Education?

The seasons are changing. Gradually at first, then suddenly, the signs become more and more obvious. And as the winds blow, as the leaves shake, and as the rains gently pitter-patter from the sky, I am imprisoned against my will. You don't know how much I want to just skip school and take a nice, long walk. Anywhere, I don't care. I just want to see the skies change colors as morning dawns and night descends. But no matter how strong my longing is, I will never be able to just "walk the earth." I am young, I am female, I am sixteen years old, and I am a junior in high school. According to the law, unless I get my GED, I am forced to go to school.

But no matter how negative my beliefs against school are, I love to learn. I believe that education and school are different things. Education can be talking to a ninety-year-old about what it was like during the Roaring Twenties, it can be studying the way the waves crash on the beach, it can be teaching a young child how to read. School, on the other hand, stifles the learning process. How can anyone expect a person to sit in a constricting chair for seven hours a day and be perfectly happy with it? I don't think it is normal. Young people are destined to learn from the world everyday. Running a mile to see a sunset, backpacking through the forests to reach the sea, having long talks with others about the Marxist revolution, is all a part of adolescence. How can anyone experience this magic and wonder on a continual basis if they are loaded down with homework assignments, stress, and school activities?

Menlo is unique in the fact that small classes allow students to become more involved and active with their education. But the homework load and the stress level is unhealthy at times. The competition that exists here stifles the spirit. Education is extremely important, yes, and getting into college is important as well, but so is finding out about who you are and so is doing the things that you really love to do. If you love to act, and are truly serious about it, it is unfair to drop your craft if school causes you to do so. Learning means doing what you love and doing what is interesting to you. In our degree-obsessed society, learning has developed the connotation that it involves whether or not you get a B.A., or M.A., or whatever else. But if you ask people, thirty years after their high school graduation, they will probably not remember anything they learned. In high school, we memorize facts, cram an unhealthy amount of material into our heads, and then (usually) forget about most of the material we learn-unless we really love what we learn.

So what am I driving at? Quitting school? Possibly, if your parents are very supportive and if you have the self-motivation and drive to educate yourself. It is possible; people all over the country do it all the time and they don't end up working at McDonald's. Some of them even go to good colleges (if they choose to), such as Harvard or Amherst. But I know a lot of us don't have what it takes. I am beginning to think we depend on school to teach us everything, forgetting the fact that we can learn from the world anytime, anywhere. But I think we must remember that the world is open to us, and it offers us the chance to learn, to grow, and to educate ourselves at any moment in time, providing you have the time (after you've done all your homework, of course).

The seasons have changed. Time passes and I am still locked in my room with a pile of books and work to do. But as I stare out my window, and look at the raindrops beginning to fall, I think, "Fuck this shit." I leave my books, run out into the rain barefoot and learn firsthand about the effects of precipitation on my body.


This page created for The Subterranean Crusader by John W. Earl. Last modified January 28, 1996.