The system said I couldn’t, and I believed it.
I’m never going to be an author — I don’t English very good (ha jk.. I English Okay)
I was never good at English assignments in school. I told myself it didn’t matter because I’m never going to be a writer.
The mindset I’ve always understood is doing stuff you’re skilled at. Don’t do stuff you’re not naturally good at.
Growing up I was good at some things in school (specifically math and science) but I could never find my domain in writing.
Now, I’ve never really been the brightest crayon in the box. I follow do directions (shout out to google maps for being my go-to), decipher my left/right or properly spell anything, but I’m not stupid.
However, throughout my many years in school, I decided I could never be creative, simply because English and Art have always been my worst subjects, and they’re naturally associated with creativity.
English has always been my worst subject
I was never good at “school” English because schools made it so boring for me.
English in school consists of many things, each equally as creativity-drowning as the next.
I’ve been writing sentences since I was 6. And in school, all the other kids would be so good at writing these sentences and I would just be the kid in the corner that can’t spell any word longer than 5 letters ( I still am this kid but it’s easier to hide behind auto-correct).
Ever since I started writing essays and stuff, I was always bad at them. Shit like sounding formal, being serious, and following simple instructions never came naturally to me.
I can barely cross the street without screwing up, nevermind formulate a thesis.
I was bad at following expectations and guidelines as to what I had to write.I just wanted to write whatever the hell I wanted. And I did. But I was penalized for it. My marks sucked just because I didn’t do what I was expected to.
I thought I was stupid for not being able to remember all the parameters required to write an essay. I told myself “ This is stupid, I’m never going to be a writer”. And I never wrote stuff in my free time. I never tried in English class. There was no value in it.
School wouldn’t let me write what I wanted to. They told me my style was wrong. What’s wrong with writing something entertaining? Why does every English teacher hate contractions? The way we write stuff in school makes no sense, no one talks like a contraction-less fancy word robot.
NO ONE IN THE REAL WORLD TALKS OR WRITES LIKE YOU TEACH US.
Since I was no good at English I labelled myself as a non-author-y person (i don’t know how I’ve always been so bad at English, I’m so good at inventing words!!!).
In school, I never wrote fun articles. So I never found out I actually enjoyed writing.
7-year-olds don’t know much.
In second grade, we completed a survey of our skills and weaknesses, I was asked: “what do you want to be when you grow up?” And I’ve never known what to say. I felt stupid.
Well, I was 7 years old, how was I supposed to know.
I would always be so confused how all these other 7-year-olds had big dreams like being an astronaut or engineer, I couldn’t even spell those words.
We also stress 15-year-old kids out in careers class because they’re realizing they don’t know what to do with their lives, but the truth is, they don’t really understand how the world works. Most high school kids have a really shitty understanding of basically everything actually.
We were never taught how to learn about things we’re interested. All our knowledge from school is spoon fed to us. Learning is limited to school.
Most kids my age don’t go home and learn. They go home and play episode or fortnite. So their knowledge of the world is… well… school.
What about the kids like me who like writing but hate English in school? They will never know they like to write because they’re never going to be exposed to it.
The school system is so centred about testing the ability for people to cram stuff in their heads. People think they’re bad at topics just because the system grades them poorly. We’re getting rid of artists, scientists, writers, mathematicians, and maybe even the next Elon Musk’s because this system doesn’t work. It doesn’t optimize for creativity and variance.
We need to give kids skills and mindsets
Ask any honours student why they care about their marks. They’ll probably say because they want to go to a good university. And if you ask them why they want to go to uni, it’s because they want a good job.
high school → uni → good job.
But, there’s a problem.
This isn’t actually how the world operates.
I know, I thought it was crazy when people didn’t go to university. They seemed dumb.
Until I realized we’re all dumb. We’re not learning at school, we’re developing a skill I like to call: collecting a bunch of *useless* data cramming it into your head and forgetting it the day after a test. And most of us students are so unbelievably good at this skill.
When in the real world is this actually useful?
We think the skills we learn in school prepare us for the rest of our lives. But in all honesty, we would get as much preparation for the real world working at McDonald's as you would from school.
Now, let’s stop thinking about juicy big mac*s*, and take a second to imagine if school could teach us useful things (how crazy would that be!!!!).
What if we learned about emerging companies working on cool issues to solve the world’s problems? What if we could learn to write articles and code? What about learning about finding an ambition/purpose in life?
That would be very useful. But we’re not learning that.
All hope may not be lost though
Luckily, there are some pretty sick platforms where anyone can learn about basically anything.
Places where teens might actually be able to learn about things they’re interested in.
Udacity, coursera, udemy, Skillshare… these are all awesome places to learn about anything. From machine learning to writing a book. The internet has all the info we could ever need.
There are so many things this system is missing.
Let’s talk numbers
No, this isn’t a complaint about math teachers. Already said enough about the English department.
49% of students feel “a great deal of stress” from school. 26% have depression from school. These institutions are bringing students and their mental health down.
I know people who freak out when they get a 95% on a test instead of 100%. We’ve developed a sense of competition throughout school communities. It’s no longer a place to learn, but it is somewhere to memorize and compete.
Also, heads up to fanatic grade-obsessed students the difference between a 95 and a 97 average is practically non-existent, take a chill pill.
Think about how much time someone spends at school. ~8h a day, 5 days a week, for about 14 years (k-12), plus 4 more years with a university degree, and even decades more if you choose to go farther in education. Almost everything you learn about during this period, you will not remember later in your life.
We’re losing so much human potential in these pits for mediocracy.
Imagine if teens didn’t spend all that time stressing, but instead spent that time developing themselves, learning about things they’re actually interested, and learning real-world skills.
I find it amazingly ironic how most kids in the school system want to live extraordinary lives. But when you compare these kids to everyone else in the school system, they’re not exceptional, they’re like everyone else.
Everyone gets 100s, 99s and 98s. This isn’t that impressive.
What about the kids that build robots, program in blockchain and work on hard problems in human longevity. (These kids seem pretty cool, maybe check them out here)
These kids are interesting and innovative. Why don’t we have a system optimized for their development?
Today, there are way too many children being told by the system that they can’t do stuff. I was almost one of those kids. The system said I couldn’t write stuff properly so I didn’t.
Then I started writing articles. Stuff changed.
And now in the near future, I want to write a book.
Imagine how many kids there are like me, being shut down by a stupid curriculum. We’re losing human potential.
Maybe I suck at school English, but I might actually be an author one day.