“Apparently my job is to shut up and study hard”
High school student Jack Hostager says:
[My participation in the Coastal America Student Summit on the Oceans and Coasts] was indisputably the best learning experience I have ever had. I learned more than I could have ever learned in a classroom about how the planet works, ways in which humans depend on and impact the ocean, and efforts being undertaken to conserve them. Equally important, I discovered how to work well with others, connect with people, be persuasive, speak in front of an audience, answer questions under pressure, juggle competing priorities, and follow through with a project.
These all sound like skills that every student should have. Yet because I didn’t practice them in a classroom, I was punished by education’s systems of grading for this. When I got back to school, my grades had dropped (some considerably) since I missed a few assignments and a test. It was as if the whole experience meant nothing because I learned the wrong thing. But it would have been irrelevant even if it directly related to what I was studying because I still would have had to make up the work, listen to a lecture, and eventually take a test.
After returning inspired and ready to change the world only to be thrust back into the invariable cycle of desks, worksheets, textbooks, and lockers, education’s expectation for me hit me painfully hard. I realized that apparently my job is to shut up and study hard. If I’m so inclined, I can go out for a sport or join a club, but my schoolwork should trump all. I’m not supposed to contribute anything noteworthy to the world, but instead lay low and consume it until after I’ve graduated. Sure, adults applaud when we do something great outside of school. But ultimately school only cares if it meets some curriculum standard that can be measured. Oh, and it has to be the one we are studying right now, and it has to be part of an assignment that’s going in the gradebook. If not, I don’t get credit and therefore it’s a waste of my time.