Dear all the math and science teachers I’ve ever had,
I know I don’t understand imaginary numbers. I’m sorry I just can’t get the hang of Lewis dot structures. From what you see of me in class, you must think I’m not the brightest student. After all, everybody else seems to be understanding your material. They’re all light years ahead of me.
But I want you to think about the girl behind the grade book. I like to write poetry and short stories. When I’m sad, I make up my own piano songs to make me feel better. I’ve been keeping a diary every day for over three years. The meaning of existence is a daunting topic, but I like to think about it anyway. I love reading. I’m a good prank-caller. I do everything I can to be an inspiring person. My favorite bands are Coldplay and Nirvana. I’m fascinated by the 2016 election. I want you to know that there’s so much more to me than the incorrect scrawl on the tests I turn in.
I’m not stupid.
All these teachers tell us, “This class is relevant because it will teach you critical thinking skills.” But is it critical thinking to spit out equations on a worksheet of busywork just for an A? Is it critical thinking to memorize a list of words only to forget it after a quiz?
I want my education to be relevant to me personally. I’m never going to have to graph a cubic function, find significant figures, or balance an equation, but I’m forced to chew and swallow all of those lessons anyways, because they “will help me learn thinking and working skills for real life.” I don’t want to be lied to. I’d rather the teachers straight-up tell me that their class will never be relevant if I’m not going into that specific field. If I could go to school and spend the whole day taking classes that will leave a mark on my life, I would be excited to wake up every morning. Deep down, I love learning. You wouldn’t know it from most of the classes I’m taking, but I do. A love of learning isn’t necessarily indicated by good grades or the timeliness of homework completion. People want to learn different things. Students might even be excited for school every morning if they were allowed to take classes that would fascinate them. Of course, nothing can be fun all the time, and there are certain basic math and science concepts that must be grasped, but can’t there be some way of letting us thrive?
Everybody is curious about something. I believe that everyone really does want to learn. The problem is that we’re not being educated–we’re being schooled.