What’s the point of school?

The aged-old question. I’m asking the reason behind high school: that dreaded developmental decade.

Simply, being a teenager is tough. We all know the story; your body changes, parts get bigger sooner than others. Plus you’ve got all this un-channelled energy, new thoughts and questions about your world, coupled with the unbelievable ability to (un)intelligently hold any argument.

THEN. Then, there’s school. Public schooling could have up to one thousand people going through this phase and more. And yet, the State expects this same naturally troubled youth to remember their English assignment, their Geography assignment and nine other subjects’ assignments and deadlines.

I find this unfair. And I’m well out of my teenage years. As unfair as it is, it’s not going to change. The workload and life-load will stay the same. Students will be expected to perform regardless of the happenings of life. If this is the condition teenagers are in, why do we place the added responsibility of school?

I often keep this in mind when I meet my students for their 7th lesson of their day. I remember that I am the 7th voice they’ve heard. I remember that they are tired. I remember that they are just thinking about going home or going to break – just getting out of the classroom. All their unchallenged energy and new questions of their world takes precedence to the poem I’m teaching.

I have to remember this, because if I assume I deserve their attention, just because…I will fail miserably in my lesson.

The point of school? Perhaps this is to teach our youth that at your most vulnerable and confused phase of life, when your body is its strongest, your mind developing and your attitude to this world is being carved – that’s when life throws you the biggest bag of lemons, day in and day out. When you are on your knees, Life sends you an unfairly batch of sand somewhat aimed at your eyes. The point of school? Life isn’t fair. And yet you have to overcome all of it.

Students: take those lemons and have some non-alcoholic tequila.

 

Everyday you learn, and then you learn some more.

“But the eyes are blind. One must look with the heart.” The Little Prince

I have read this book many times. But today, at this juncture, it has a totally different meaning. I will refrain from this post being too soppy; filled with idealism and hope of a better world. The realist in me instinctively rejects any bathing in idealistic behaviour. Instead, I come here with an open heart and mind – a combination truly scarier than any Halloween costume.

For a long time I considered myself open-minded, real and, dare I say,  optimistic. I am filled with sayings and phrases which allow for hope, motivation and a genuine concern for the bettering of my fellow sapiens. I write this painfully sobered by the reality of just how much one person can effect the world. They’ve said it, you’ve read it on too many bumper stickers: Be the change you want to see in the world, or something like that. There is no short supply of motivational ideas, changes or anything socially revolutionary.

But here’s the thing: until you feel it; until you feel it coarse your veins staining it with your own pain mixed with another’s; until you feel it congregate in your spine and hear it call your full birth name at any given hour, then you really taste just how much one person can change the world – your world.

“..you will say nothing; words are the source of misunderstandings” The Little Prince 

In my case this deep change was self-inflicted. Today I was politely brought to responsibility and called to ownership in a manner saturated in kindness. No, really. My ego couldn’t even present an argument to defend itself. Is it possible that the most important lessons are the most expensive, if not only on your account, but also someone else’s? Is this when the bumper sticker becomes so real: “Apologising isn’t about being right or wrong: it’s about valuing your relationship more than your ego”.

We live in a world littered with ideas about being right and wrong; perception, achievement and growth. But more often we forget what it’s like to see with our heart; where the matters hardly have a right or wrong way, but just are. People are complex, full of shit and increasingly exhausting. But relationships with them, as I was reminded, are gifts; protection of these gifts are what matters most. Because you are protecting their hearts. Coupled with this is another important thing: you can’t please everyone. I believe this to be true. And since this is the case, then don’t please them; don’t subscribe to their ideals and definitions of right and wrong: raise your head and listen to your own voice. But make sure that voice is aimed with the intention and realisation of protecting their hearts and, importantly your own.