Spelled out in large plastic letters on the marquee in front of my brother’s middle school is the phrase Resistance is Futile. Seeing this makes me ponder what the school is trying to say; are they stating to the kids that trying to resist school and learning is pointless? I don’t know for certain. But what I do know is that those words are still there, for all the students to see. I can hear the words Resistance is Futile being repeated in a robotic voice over and over; to me, it sounds overly mechanical.
It seems like some of today’s educators are also becoming more and more mechanical as well. Sure, they work like well-oiled machines, mass producing businessmen and women to somehow “make the world better.” However, I think there is more to education than simply mechanical learning. Ralph Waldo Emerson writes in an essay that there is also the “Natural” way that students learn. Students, in a way, can teach themselves with some guidance and support from educators. To successfully support a student, the educator must respect the student and be friends with the student, but not act parental towards them.
People are beginning to see that the mechanical way of educating isn’t as practical as it once was. Educators are more focused on teaching lessons to help increase your IQ rather than ones that can help you later in life. However, it shouldn’t be solely up to the educator to teach students about life; students need to teach themselves, Emerson concludes. Learn from your mistakes and be a leader in your education–initiate the drive to learn.
Anyone can be a leader in their own education. Margaret Talbot writes about this in an essay that talks about the impact that these leaders have on their schools. Many students long to be valedictorians, the student with the highest GPA in your graduating class, and work hard to earn the title. Talbot explains the race to be a valedictorian and how students struggle to be the “best.” I believe that no one should truly reign supreme over others because of of how high their GPA is, because the GPA system is built upon mechanical education. Intelligence shouldn’t be something of superiority. AP courses and honors classes segregate those who strive to be the best from those who are at school because they are required to be there.
The competition to be the “smartest” is one that will probably never go away, no matter how hard we try. It is in our human nature to compete to be the greatest. But we as students can try to go to school to learn for ourselves, without the pressure of impressing the best colleges and future employers. The purpose of education is to be able to form your own opinions and question the world for yourself.
Talbot, when interviewing past high school valedictorians, states that after high school, the importance of being the best lessens. In addition, Talbot says that just because you are not the valedictorian of your graduating class, it ultimately doesn’t label you as not “smart” or unintelligent. A student could be trying their hardest to succeed and learn, but may not meet the educators’ requirements. Then it is up to the educator to help the student find themselves and learn for themselves.
All in all, I firmly believe education does not define you as a person, nor does it mean you are more or less intelligent than others. Emerson states that everyone is born with determination and is a potential genius. Therefore, each student’s intelligence is their own; no one is identical, much like our fingerprints and DNA. We are all built differently and learn differently. It is up to the schools to realize this and it is up to them to convert to a more realistic method of teaching.