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Friday, September 14, 2018

Why School Matters? from the Perspective of a Form Four Student

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Guest post by Janelle Lee (Share your thoughts with 60,000+ Malaysian students)

A few days ago, I watched this viral video “What is School for?” on YouTube. It was made by this  famous YouTuber called Prince Ea (should really go and check him out). But this video in particular (along with another one called “I Sued the School System”) really spark some of my wild thoughts.

In my opinion, after I watched it, I really do agree with it. But to tell the truth, I thought it was just incomplete. Don't get me wrong, I'm still in high school and I know what the struggles are. But school doesn't have to be like a prison or a 12 year compulsory jail sentence, it could be much much more.

It's just really confusing for students on whether studying is worth it or not, which is probably right considering how vulnerable us teens can be. I know that the video didn't say stop trying in school or was encouraging kids to dropout from school, but the message could really easily be misinterpreted as an excuse for students who are not doing well. While reading the comments, I can ensure you that it has really put a big question mark (and not just mine) on the very thing students are focusing their lives about.

So, I wrote this (pretty long) article to answer the little question marks plus the big question “What actually is school for?” (and hopefully to give some encouragement).

THE SCHOOL SYSTEM IS BROKEN, BUT YOU CAN STILL WIN DESPITE IT

“Why learn this when it is not going to help me in the future?”

I can swear that this question will or has popped into every single students' heads one time or other. But first things first, what is the school system? The school system is an establishment of education from kindergarten, all the way up to university. It is built in such a way that it is a versatile way to teach students certain knowledge, the basics of what certain people need for their future careers. For example, Physics, Chemistry and Additional Mathematics for STEM fields, Biology for Medic, Accounts and Economy for Finance etc.

I have certain heard my fair share (and me being one of them) of students complaining about how this topic was so boring  or they were just simply not interested or they were being force to study a certain subject, be aware I am not talking about those compulsory subjects (that's another article for another day), but those elective subjects that you could choose from.

Remember those career weeks or counselors you have in school, it is their job to help assist you, to help you find your talents and capabilities, carefully crafting a suitable school programs for you. My advice (for those who are choosing) : know what you are capable of before moving the next step. Not brave enough to ask the counselor, well just ask a friend. I know there is no harm trying but just don't land yourself in hot water, leaving you drenched in disappointment.

Don't try to be the “Jack of all traits” when you can always be “the Master of one”. Don't be greedy, it's okay to let go, it does not mean that you're not smart, what it means is that you are smart enough to know what's best for you. “You are the product of your choices, not others”, in the end, it's all up to you, you make the choice you think is right for you.

So, to answer that question, it is simply your choice, your choice to study what subject, what kind of field. That's why it is important to look carefully at the choices at hand and choose correctly. Remember: “You have to deal with the consequences of your choices”.

ONLY HUMAN

I get a lot of people say school kills creativity, killing the important speck for humans to thrive on this monstrous world. Schools become more like those factories in Star Wars, producing clones, programming humans to become robots, making artificial intelligence as the utmost standard for humans to achieve.

Being Chinese, I most certainly understand that. Having to memorize a whole book of essays and karangans just so I could score a perfect in a test is not writing. But having broken English on your midterm exam is not exactly 100% is it? But after a decade of that, I wonder if  the As were more important than experiencing the joy of writing?

But I do get it, at a tender age of just 10 years old, many students may not be able to fully grasp the language to translate it into fine vocabulary to get themselves an A. But is it really worth it? After probably a decade of ongoing guidance, is getting an A more important than having the skill to express your thoughts and emotions? Is it that the most human natural thing to do just irrelevant?Excluding the perfect language, bombastic vocabulary and beautiful phrases, “the art of writing is discovering what you believe”.

Be brave and have courage to know your opinions matter, take risks. It's okay to fail, whatever friends or adults may say, it is always a learning process. Education is just trying to refine natural talents and human abilities. Without school, where else to better equipped yourself for the world ahead of you.

DON’T KILL YOURSELF GETTING As

I will straight up say this “ YOU ARE NEVER YOUR GRADES”. Yeah, having good grades may lend you to some privileges, scholarships, etc., but never ever let that number or alphabet on that piece of paper get into your head. Whether you are a straight A student or a straight D student, do not let it affect you or define who you are as a person.

But on the other hand, it does not mean you can slack off or anything. It means that grades are still something but not everything.

“You don't need to be the top student, being middle is fine, only this kind of person has enough free time time to learn other skills” - Jack Ma

If you are a straight A student, question yourself: if I rip off every single achievement I have, who am I? If you can still answer that and be proud of it, congratulations and keep up the good work. But if you cannot, don't be sad, keep searching!

If you are the weak student, thank your past and focus on your future. Do not let the guilt of your past be the boulder of your future. Let those scars be stars to help motivate you to seek and thrive. Yes, the climb will be tough but I promise you the view will be beautiful. And maybe go and try out something new, you just never know right?

All in all, seek balance in your life. Being successful in school, does not mean you will be successful in life; Not being successful in school, does not mean you will not be successful in life.

FRANKLY SPEAKING, WE ALL DON'T KNOW WHAT ARE WE GOING TO BE.

Being a teenager is hard. With a pot full of insecurities,a splash of hormones plus a cup of the undying fear for the future, and you will end up getting a stressed, confused and worthless recipe of what I called “I DON’T KNOW!!!”.

But guess what - school is actually letting you grow, teaching the art of growing in a society, letting you have a taste on what you one day could be. A school is like a small mock up community that you will be able to try and explore things, do well and also fail , all of that plus guidance from teachers that will educate you to a right way of living in a society. Yes, these experiences may differ from certain people but living in a big place called world, is a whole bigger scale.

“We are the products of our environment” , understand that the environment you are in is for a reason. Giving you the pathway to lead you to a better life, past experiences and relationships, a better attitude to face the world, the right perspective for the bigger picture.

You will never know, amidst your scavenger hunt, you might even stumble upon a pot of gold.

SCHOOLS WILL ONLY CHANGE, WHEN THEY ARE EDUCATED CORRECTLY


In my head, there are two perspectives of education. The first one being : “You must study hard, get straight A+ then go to a very good college, then can get a very good job and make a lot of money, then only can get a good wife, big house, big car and so on.” The second one being: “Why study so hard? After that also cannot get money, better go and work better.” I am not trying to insult anyone or any part because I also do fall into one of these categories myself.

Because of society’s high standards, schools are imposed to have an achievement focused system. Students are stressed by teachers; Teachers are stressed by officials; Officials are stressed by the Government; the Government is stressed by ongoing international standards. And the chain reaction goings on.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” - Nelson Mandela
If education focuses on overall well being and growth rather than the statistics of achievement, will it be healthier for the nation to process further? Not just learning academia stuff, but also stressing on physical, emotional and even spiritual health.

But in real life, the school system is solely based on only one temperament: Extroverts. The psychology of classes labels introverts as “shy” and “quiet”.But to all introverts, don't fret because there is still power in introverts that can move and shake the nation.

If being different is what makes us special, learning differently is all the more common. The society's defectiveness towards this has not help a bit. Peer pressure may be one of the most deadly (and also most successful) factors among humans. So well, it's time for everyone to step up, its time for change.

Schools will change, when people change. So stop whining and be the change.

THE BIGGER PICTURE

Everybody knows that the education system is horribly flawed. But what is the ultimate objective of education? Are we just going round and round in circles not even knowing the purpose of spending a decade(or two) cracking our heads (and butts!) to score well?

Education is so much more than achievement, a job, a bright future, a better career. All of that are just embellishments.

It's all about LEARNING. Falling in love with it, growing, constantly improving yourself, advancing to greater heights, being intrigued to things around and still having the curiosity to ask “Why?”.

Interestingly, when I started to ask some friends and adults if they loved learning in school, most answered that the worry of getting the answer right and doing what the teacher expected took out the joy of learning. And frankly speaking, I do have the same feeling too. But, somehow, somewhere, I always knew that behind all those covers, there was this hidden passion to learn.

I may not know certain things about this world. But I am most certain that I love learning.

IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT SCHOOL, IT’S ABOUT LEARNING

Understand this, from all of the CEOs of big corporate companies to all the well-known movers and shakers that transformed the world, they NEVER EVER STOP LEARNING. Even though they were college dropouts or didn't even go to school , they never stopped learning.They learned through reading books, attending courses, listening to talks... School is just a medium for education to be taught, but there are still many many ways to learn outside of school.

“Education is what remains when one has forgotten all about school” - Albert Einstein
I believe that education is the main building block of what school can and will be. Yes, I understand that the system has its flaws but still, nothing's perfect, right?

To all those people who are waiting to graduate to stop “school”, well bad news for you cause you can never drop out from this never-ending school called LIFE. But again - it all depends on you. You can have a good education, just see education in different eyes.

BE GRATEFUL

I can 100% assure you that there are people in this world that are dying to go to school. People who wait several hours to catch a bus or walk several kilometers just to get to school. Moreover, how could you not forget that during the olden times, girls were not even given the chance to go to school.
We people in this generation are given opportunities to learn and to get the best education. The privilege of going to school provides us a shorter pathway to success. Maybe you would argue with me that the best of the best didn't even go to school, well this is my answer to that: They all took a much much harder and longer road to find true success. Because of all of their hardships and great determination, they chose because they truly wanted to learn.

I am blessed enough to have amazing teachers and mentors that truly inspire learning, who were gracious and patient to answer my unending questions and to teach me the world upside down. Not forgetting, having friends that are understanding enough to still tolerate my 3-year-old ‘kepochi’ ways.

Be grateful that we have teachers, schools, the system to rely on in getting the education we need. Amidst all the stress, expectations, worries, fear, doubts, insecurities (seriously, I go on and on with this),work hard and use this precious time to explore. Always respect and be humble to learn. Be positive that you can do it! and have an open mind about education.

Last but not least, all the best to all students on going on your great adventure called school. Don't forget that no matter what the results are - never stop enjoying the journey, enjoying the climb. But most importantly,

Enjoy Learning

Maybe many of you might said that “of course, this is what a “good” student will say” or “Oo, teacher’s pet” or maybe you might think that I'm defending some kind of title or just want to stir up some havoc, but this is only my opinion.

I acknowledge that I am young and still learning. I also do understand that we are all from different environments, different cultures, so it is normal to have different views on things. And like always, there are always two or more sides of an argument.

But anyhow, thank you for reading this far and do leave a comment below, I really want to know your thoughts. ;)

Having a passion for all things worth learning, Janelle Lee from Seremban is crazy enthusiastic about EVERYTHING. You could always find her sitting in front of her class, being distracted on her newest craze or just binging on Youtube videos.


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