By Julia Hegele
I have walked through the halls of my school for three years now and I’ve noticed two profound things.
The first, the debilitating mundanity that permeates the air and the second, the biting, defeated stares of students as they trudge from class to class. Papers rustle, pencils scratch, and then 50 minutes later, a droning bell tolls and students cascade back into the grey hallways. After years of observation and reflection, only one thing is on my mind as I watch the swells of students and teachers; Why on Earth must public education be so barren of joy, art, and creativity, and how can we resolve this egregious flaw in development that we have imposed upon our students?
I have pressed this question to tired educators and parents throughout my experience in the factory of public education, and no one has ever given me a viable answer. “It just is,” and “That’s how things are,” serve as the usual counterpoints, straw men of rhetoric supporting fortresses of traditional logic. One would think that a few students or teachers would step forth, fighting adamantly against the generalizing monopoly of stagnant standardized testing. What teacher wants shell-shocked students, and what student wants an apathetic teacher? However, this seemingly unquestionably wise step has only been taken in three classrooms at my high school, past the grey and green carpet and into a world of song, art, and expression, enters the Performing Arts wing.
I am of the firm belief that the arts are the most essential asset to lasting happiness and success. I have seen fellow students explore more complexity, self-awareness, causation, and creativity in my theatre class than in all of my AP classes combined. So why is it that the rest of the school system is so embroiled in the mundanity of standardization and facts? Our rigid assessment culture is killing individuality and creativity, conforming thousands of minds a year and building up walls between student and teacher.
Educational rhetoric breaks the souls and the sanity of students, but the careers and mindsets forged out of this assimilation are looked upon with esteem, while pursuing a career in an artistic exploit paints you as impractical or ill prepared for reality. Rather than contextualizing a character or exploring the meaning in an artistic movement, I have witnessed students list their dream jobs as accountant, banker, or clerk; Purely for the imagined “security” of those careers, whether it be real or not. What ungodly drudgery is built up in an office, how could such a blank, unchallenged mind ever be able to cope with the constantly changing concepts, ideas, and innovations of the world? The truth is, it couldn’t in my opinion.
Julia Hegele is a Junior at Thunder Ridge High School