The first thing I said when I came home after my first day of first grade was, "School sucks." The next thing I said, after the second day of school, was, "School sucks." Since then, I expanded my "school sucks" verbiage to "school sucks a lot," "school sucks hard," "school sucks so much," and, "school really sucks."
After suffering high school, I took two years off to explore narcotics in Israel. Which I did..and discovered, by the way, that potheads are potheads no matter which country they're from. What I also discovered, though, was that I missed being in school, if only for the immediate affirmation of getting an "A," the type of cheap and easy gratification the real world doesn't harbor. Meanwhile, however, my daily ritual no longer consisted in awaking to a visceral stress knot and exhaling audibly until dismissal; instead, I was as excited to leave bed as is psychosomatically possible before noon. There was music to play, cheap vodka to drink, girlfriends to see, a country to traverse, and an interpersonal, deeply spiritual purpose to fulfill. While not getting grades made it slightly more difficult to achieve validation, it also liberated an entire generation of treaded-upon schoolies unto a vastly different set of objectives: big, life-changing, mind-expanding objectives (and I don't just mean mushrooms in the negev; that's only part of it). What you did, and how well you did it, was judged on a purely humanitarian scale, and was determined by how many good deeds you affected. A biochemical thesis was about as useful as arab citizenship, and that is to say, not as useful as academic machinery would have you believe.
But still, after a few months, one can take anything for granted. And I took this new lifestyle as such, and started complaining about wanting an education, and pined for scholastic enlightenment. Ultimately, I came back to America, enrolled in college, and walked in to my first class: English 101.
"Class," the octogenarian said in her slow, aged hum, "before I start to lecture, I'd like you to write down, on the 3x5 index cards in front of you, an objective description of the room in front of you." This is not, I thought, scholastic enlightenment, but it was only after she read the cards aloud that I realized what a mistake I'd made.
"This one is from David," she said, squinting her cataract-riddled lenses, "and David wrote, "The room is really nice. The people in here seem tired."
Holy crap, I thought. Holy crap. A room full of college kids who can't delineate between subjective and objective. And that is how, after 10 minutes, I emphatically lost faith forever in the American education system.
Part of the problem is that students learn early on that they are completely disempowered, that they are at the teacher's whim, the principal's whim, the dean's whim, the TA's whim, the rules committee's whim, and their parents' demanding whim at home. The only way to survive is to navigate, in a disingenuous way, school's heaping demands: anything from half-assing and cliff-noting to copying and cheating to complaining and begging. No one really wants to be in school, but everyone wants a respectable GPA; however, success and apathy typically can't co-occur. So it's up to each student to develop an effectively succinct shortcut to prosperity.
Another part of the problem, for anyone who's still reading this 570th word, is that school presents an excruciating existential dilemma: is school really important? Do grades matter? Is this the most important thing I could be doing with my life? And, for atheists and actual existentialists, the real crux lies in the observation that, if life is empty and meaningless, then what the hell am I spending so much time in school for?
I don't know...I really don't know. But I have to go to my poly sci class, so I have to stop writing.
Stay torturous academia,
MC probably going for his mba