I often hear students exclaim loudly about how much they hate school, or how much they hate this school in particular. Do they imagine that at other schools, students leap out of bed each morning excited about another day of learning? Do they sing and dance at the bus stop because they are so overjoyed about their school? Perhaps they think that other schools are all YouTube videos, funny memes, and taco parties?
School is hard, no matter where you are, and there are always challenges to be faced. That said, I teach at a wonderful school. My students are bright and respectful. The teachers are dedicated, knowledgeable, and so hard-working. The administrators are in touch with the realities of the classroom (both the principal and the assistant principal teach classes of their own) and are available to talk when needed. The school building is new and has wireless internet throughout, interactive white boards, Apple TV displays on high-def screens, document cameras, and all sorts of other goodies. And, as if all that were not enough, all the students in the school are issued an iPad and a suite of apps that they use to complete their assignments, research, and connect with others. We have no discipline problems to speak of, no issues with teen pregnancy, drug abuse, hazing, or violence.
Our test scores on the PSAT, ACT, and state exams are consistently (and significantly) higher than those in the state and in the county. It's a utopia, right?
What is the problem? Why would students complain so vehemently about our school?
The have one legitimate gripe, I suppose. (Not really, but I'll voice it for them here anyway.) The students wear a "uniform" (polo shirts and khakis) and they hate it. And, because we are a school of choice (a public charter) families opt in to this school instead of the local public schools. Classes here are hard and we don't pass kids along who don't meet academic expectations. So some students feel like if they could just be at the local public high school, it would be a constant party.
The thing they forget is that school is supposed to be hard. It's supposed to challenge you, stretch you, and push you to your maximum potential. It's supposed to break you out of conformist thought and provide new perspectives. In school and in life one is supposed to work hard and go home tired but satisfied with a sincere effort and progress toward goals. Otherwise, what is the point?
I once saw a button that said, "School prepares you for the real world, which also sucks." Now, I don't believe that hard work need be considered a bad thing, but it is true that school is a lot of work which prepares you for a lot more work. And that is a good thing, amigos! We do not want to be intellectually complacent any more than we want to be physically sedentary. Both lead to rot and ruin and we cannot allow our kids to choose that for themselves without putting up a fight.
Our education is perhaps the only thing in life that we own completely.
It is something that can never be taken from us, even by the most
oppressive regimes or religions. It's worth the struggle and it's worth
So the next time I hear some kid talking about how much school sucks or how awful it is, I need to respond with something along the lines of "It's a lot of hard work, isn't it? But anything worth having in life is worth working for."
Mis pensamientos de hoy, amigos.