By Grace Morningstar, Whiteville High School
They’re the words that every student has heard at some point or another: “If you work hard, then you can achieve anything.”
The majority of students will cast these hackneyed words of wisdom aside, especially during earlier grade levels when the most significant aspect of life is how many peers you have to elbow aside in order to forge a path through the cafeteria on pizza day.
There are others, however, who take these words in earnest and abide by them with ostensibly religious fervor throughout the entirety of their academic career. Conscientiousness in one’s endeavors is an admirable trait, but there are a select few who take this virtue to an unnecessary extreme.
More and more frequently in schools today, students are unwillingly forced into a dogged game of numbers that consumes excessive amounts of time and effort in order to participate. Some of the brightest and most motivated students become so focused on attaining accolades – the highest grades, the best weighted GPA – that they forget the true purpose of attending school in the first place: learning.
The bottom line is that we are losing our grip on education.
In today’s educational system, students are accosted simultaneously with a higher workload and a stronger pressure to participate in extracurricular activities than ever before. College admissions have become so competitive that students feel pressured to achieve perfection in order to deserve a slot in their dream school’s entering class.
The world is changing rapidly, innovations are being made that were previously deemed unattainable – yet for some reason, the world’s future creators are more concerned about how many AP courses they’ll have to take in order to obtain a GPA high enough to surpass those of cutthroat classmates than how they’re going to develop skills that will allow them to leave a positive stamp on the world.
Students are beginning to forget that numbers can never replace an intellectually curious mind.
The worst part is, access to the best academic resources is often given to students based on the criteria dictated by the academic number system.
All a student has to do to gain academic opportunities is act in an obsequious manner toward teachers, take classes with AP and Honors titles, and turn in excessive amounts of correctly-formatted busy work on time.
Essentially, academic accolades aren’t given on intellectual merit, but are instead granted based on the strength of one’s ability to turn off one’s humanity, curiosity, and creativity to meet the rigorous (i.e. dry and extensive) course requirements set by curriculum writers and teachers.
On that note, it’s important to concede that not everyone has the time or resources to complete class requirements; consequently, this means that some students have an advantage over others based on financial circumstances and socioeconomic status.
For all intents and purposes, students aren’t being taught how to digest and apply information.
Instead, the more motivated kids and parents are simply learning how to work the system to achieve desired results. While this will probably continue to be the case for years to come, it would be a miracle if someone were to reach students in some way and let them know that the things they worry about the most won’t have any significance in the long run.