i look at the blank page before me. ready to soak in all my thoughts. and I wonder why I haven't been better about recording my thoughts and life over the past few months. My mind has been everywhere- new insights gained, lessons learned, experiences had. Yet the pages stay blank. I blame... myself. I am sure I could come up with a myriad of reasons to justify why I haven't written, but all would simply be to validate my lack of making it a priority. so what thought/experience broke the long silence that was this blog.
today's forum by Michael Wesch.
It was a debate wether or not to go. It was a forum, which is like playing Russian Roulette with your time- either they are wonderful, or you would rather be watching paint dry then sitting in the hard, cramped seats in the Marriott Center. And I had a test I had to take in the hour break I had right after the forum that I could use a little extra time to study for.
The decision was made to go, with full intent to study while there- then I could say I went, while still getting done what I needed to get done. Studying lasted for a whole three minutes before I quickly switched from reviewing my notes, to taking notes on what he was saying.
He was inspiring and captivating. He made me want my life to be so much more than the trajectory it is/was on. He started by talking about questions. The art of asking questions and searching for answers. He talked about how questions so humility, and make us vulnerable. And how it is through shared vulnerability that we learn about empathy.
He talked about how the questions we are asking ourselves in education and how they are not the questions that matter to learning. questions like "how many points is it worth?" or "how long does it need to be?" are not the questions that spark creativity or help us learn- but rather teach us the minimal we need to receive a grade. He shared a brief snippet of this valedictorian speech which I went back and read, and is phenomenal. and eye opening.
an excerpt of Erica Goldson's Valedictorian Speech.
This is the dilemma I've faced within the American education system. We are so focused on a goal, whether it be passing a test, or graduating as first in the class. However, in this way, we do not really learn. We do whatever it takes to achieve our original objective.
Some of you may be thinking, "Well, if you pass a test, or become valedictorian, didn't you learn something? Well, yes, you learned something, but not all that you could have. Perhaps, you only learned how to memorize names, places, and dates to later on forget in order to clear your mind for the next test. School is not all that it can be. Right now, it is a place for most people to determine that their goal is to get out as soon as possible.
I am now accomplishing that goal. I am graduating. I should look at this as a positive experience, especially being at the top of my class. However, in retrospect, I cannot say that I am any more intelligent than my peers. I can attest that I am only the best at doing what I am told and working the system. Yet, here I stand, and I am supposed to be proud that I have completed this period of indoctrination. I will leave in the fall to go on to the next phase expected of me, in order to receive a paper document that certifies that I am capable of work. But I contend that I am a human being, a thinker, an adventurer – not a worker. A worker is someone who is trapped within repetition – a slave of the system set up before him. But now, I have successfully shown that I was the best slave. I did what I was told to the extreme. While others sat in class and doodled to later become great artists, I sat in class to take notes and become a great test-taker. While others would come to class without their homework done because they were reading about an interest of theirs, I never missed an assignment. While others were creating music and writing lyrics, I decided to do extra credit, even though I never needed it. So, I wonder, why did I even want this position? Sure, I earned it, but what will come of it? When I leave educational institutionalism, will I be successful or forever lost? I have no clue about what I want to do with my life; I have no interests because I saw every subject of study as work, and I excelled at every subject just for the purpose of excelling, not learning. And quite frankly, now I'm scared.
Her words are scarily correct. I look back at my education and think of the number of tests I have gotten and A on, yet I couldn't tell you anything I learned a year later. What a waste. In my life planning and decision making class (the joys of your last semester) we have been talking about purpose, and the importance behind having purpose, and finding purpose in what you are doing. I loved a quote from the forum, he said "Find purpose and it will ignite your creativity." We need to find a purpose, a purpose for life and for living. What is the purpose in going to class? Is it to get an A, or to learn? Jackson and I had a conversation once about "what is intelligence." He is a smart kid, but he posed the question if he is considered smart simply because he test well. Conversation ensued. I dont know the answer, we didn't come to a conclusion. But we agreed that it consisted of applying knowledge gained.
moral of the story. learn don't just go to school.
other things I loved from the forum...
* failures are just signs on the road- it doesn't define who you are, but is just a sign to keep trying
* be in a state of wonder- when you are you want to experience everything, and connect with everyone around you
* love is something you do- something you get better at... it is the same with wonder.