The world is a strange place. I have a lot that I’d like to say, so I’m going to sit here and write. You can either read all of this, or you can scroll down to the paragraphs that don’t seem as long as the others.
“Children are our future.”
I’m so tired of hearing that line. Not because I think it’s untrue. And definitely not because I hate Whitney Houston’s song. But because it is just so obvious. It’s like telling me I need oxygen to breathe. I know. Everyone knows.
Children can do no wrong, for the most part. They are the designated cute members of society who are normally running around with dirty hands and drool running from their mouth because they are laughing so hard.
“They’re just a kid”; “They don’t know any better”; and “It’s okay”, are just a few of the excuses given for their actions. They are untouchable. They are our future. We must protect them.
And then something happens. They turn into teenagers and become a blemish on society. All of a sudden they’re told to “Grow up” and “Stop acting so immature”.
Is it because they’re now in high school and their teacher tells them on the first day that they’re going to be treated as adults now, but oh yeah, be sure to raise your hand when you need to go to the washroom and the teacher will decide if you can relieve yourself or not.
Woo, adulthood. #MadeIt
I look back on my elementary school days and a lot of questions pop up. What exactly were they preparing me for and why didn’t anyone tell me the meaning behind anything?
I mean, I get the whole learning how to read, write, and talk stuff, but what about everything else?
Kindergarten was all about “Show and Tell” and rolling in a barrel at recess when you couldn’t find a ball that could actually bounce.
In Grade 1, my report card said that I shouldn’t share my snack with others. Noted. But at least I was a pleasure to teach.
In Grade 2, my report card said that I socialized too much. I thought it was a compliment, until I told it wasn’t. Noted. But at least I was a pleasure to teach.
In Grade 3, my teacher told my mom that I took my time drawing out each letter in every word and that I should write faster. Noted. But at least I was a pleasure to teach.
To this day, whenever I’m writing something down, I always think I’m moving too slow. When I was in university, I would copy notes down from the board and look around to see if I was the last one done. I was normally one of the first, but I still couldn’t shake the “Write faster” comment from Grade 3.
Snacks, socializing, and write faster. That’s what was important?
In Grade 4, I received a C+ in Algebra. I didn’t even know what Algebra was, other than something that had to do with math. Again, I was a pleasure to teach.
In another grade (I can’t remember which), we were given a surprise math test. Every question looked like these three examples:
13 15 20
10 8 17
The only instructions on the sheet were, “Find the sum.” No one in the class knew what the word “Sum” meant. Isn’t that great? A test with instructions that included a word to which we didn’t know the meaning. It was like French class all over again.
I always found that tests never really tested what the students knew. Well, they did, to an extent. But a lot of the time, tests challenged us to do things we hadn’t learned how to do yet. Why? So we could show off our critical thinking skills.
I didn’t really get it. Now I do. But when you’re 12-years-old and are told you’re having a test in two days on the content you’ve been working on in the textbook, you don’t really prepare for anything else.
So when you take the children of the future and start treating them like adults after a two month summer vacation, and realize they are now teenagers who are developing a bunch of different attitudes, of course they’re going to look like an annoyance.
But it’s okay, because they’ll grow up in high school and take their college level classes and BAM, they’re ready for life after high school.
Why are we asking 17-year-olds to decide what they want to do with their life and apply to schools based on that? We all know it’s stupid. And no one ever does anything about it. No one ever changes the system.
We sit in high school and memorize math equations most of us will never use ever again. Why?
I sat through two years of Science in high school. I did experiments. I memorized most of the Periodic Table. I analyzed my spit under a microscope. I did a presentation on the solar system. Not because I wanted to. But because I had to.
And I get it. Give the students a taste of every subject just in case something inspires them and they want to pursue a career in that. Fine.
That didn’t make me enjoy walking into Science class. I couldn’t wait for the bell to ring. That’s a problem, isn’t it?
At least say, “If you don’t see a career for yourself in this subject, this is why it’s still important.” Tell my 14-year-old self why. Because at that age, it just felt like a speed bump in front of lunch.
By the end of high school, I knew how to write essays and cite them using MLA format. I went on to university and was told on Day 1 that I would only be using APA format. Fantastic.
I don’t mean to bash the school system, but does it not occur to them to teach students about life? My Grade 11 Media Studies class was the only class where we ever talked about current events.
Every other class was as if there was no world outside of school. Maybe that’s why entering the workforce is known as entering the “real world” because the one we grew up in was so sheltered.
Sit me down and tell me about life. Don’t tell me the pretty picture that’s been painted for me since kindergarten. Tell me the challenges, so I can prepare for them.
Don’t tell me to take a career quiz and choose from a list of twenty jobs to decide what I should be when I grow up. Don’t tell me life is as easy as, “Get a job when you need money”.
There were people in high school who only got involved in clubs or student council because it looked good on a resume. They didn’t care to be there. They just needed something on a resume because that’s what the world expects.
You could be the best person in the world, but if you don’t have relevant black ink on your resume, too bad.
As for university, that is when you realize you know absolutely nothing and are forced to grow up.
That is where students are memorization robots. They learn everything they need to know for one test, and then they can forget it all as soon as they leave the classroom.
Survive and advance.
Moving on from schooling.
Politics. Yay. Hooray!
Politics has become such a joke. I can’t take any politician seriously, can you? Answer honestly. It’s almost as if politicians are in a world of their own and have no idea how to communicate with people anymore.
When they talk, it is so obvious that they are trying to appeal to certain demographics. Does anyone fall for it?
I like sports. If a politician mentions the local sports teams in their speech, is that their way of earning my vote? By finding a common interest with me? By making it seem like if we went to a game together, we’d have a good time in each other’s company?
It’s just all very insincere and phony. There is a lot of phoniness in the world.
Late night talk shows have been making Trump jokes every single night for the past two years. I stopped laughing at them a long time ago. Is this what people like? Is this the entertainment that people crave? Trump jokes?
Humour is dead. I consider myself to be a funny person and I don’t have to rely on memes or political jokes to do it. What’s everyone else’s excuse? Oh yeah, they aren’t funny on their own. They need a crutch.
Many times, that crutch is used on social media.
Social media has brought out the worst in people.
I don’t know what I expect, but the amount of stupidity I see online every day continues to leave me appalled.
Someone passes away and random people will take it as an opportunity to make a joke or say something inappropriate. I witnessed it yesterday. It made me sick.
I read things online and I almost can’t believe someone would take the time to type out such cruel words and then hit “Enter”.
Is the “real world” just school on a larger scale? Do these people just want attention?
Why does everyone want attention these days?
I will see posts on Instagram of people posting two photos – one of them is “natural”, and the other is of them “working their angles” for the camera. Then the caption will be a nice long rant about how you shouldn’t believe everything you see on social media and be proud of who you are.
Excuse me? You’re the one perpetuating this unrealistic image in every single one of your photos, just so you can get popular and don’t have to get a real job because deep down you have no idea what to do with yourself other than take pictures of yourself.
Is everyone just scared? Is that what it is? Is that why everyone feels the need to fall in line and attach themselves to the latest trends?
I went through my first 12 years of school not being able to talk about baseball with anyone except one person. All of sudden, the Toronto Blue Jays make the playoffs for the first time in 20+ years and the entire closet is emptied with fans who must’ve been in hiding.
No, I don’t buy it. You thought baseball was boring just a few months ago. You’re only at the game because it’s a photo op. It’s a chance for you to fit in with what’s hip and cool.
Again, there’s a lot of phoniness in the world.
People worship celebrities, as if they are from a different planet and don’t breathe the same air we do. Sure, it’s great to have role models and people who entertain us, and inspire us, and all that jazz and hip-hop.
But calm down. You don’t have to reply to all of their tweets. You don’t have to bow at their feet. You don’t even have to run after them when you see them on the street.
Non-famous people are the ones who make people famous. It’s not them. It’s us. We are the ones paying their salary to play a sport in front of us. We are the ones going to see their movie. We are the ones buying their book. We are the ones watching their ridiculous television show.
We make them famous.
And in doing so, we look to them for guidance. We expect athletes to be at the forefront of movements and protests. We expect celebrities to speak out. We expect artists to send a message to the world through their music.
We expect all of this, as if we are incapable of developing our own thoughts. No. We have to look to our favourite famous person and see what they think.
We give them Saint status because their PR representatives have done a great job at convincing us they are exactly who we think they are.
We have to look at the guy who scores 40 goals in a season and grows a playoff beard, and ask them for their opinion. And then, like sheep, we follow.
Again, it’s an example of school on a larger scale.
The teacher leaves the classroom during a test and everyone starts whispering. “What’s the answer to #5?” Someone loudly whispers, “B”. The sheep circle ‘B’, not knowing it’s the wrong answer.
And in this world where we look to celebrities for guidance, we are constantly at the mercy of corporations who want nothing more than our money (and our email address, so they can bombard us).
Everything is an advertisement.
Buy, buy, buy. You need this.
You need to have luscious hair like the model, who just so happens to have a perfect smile, in the shampoo commercial.
You need this perfectly made burger and pristine, rectangular french fries.
You need the new smartphone because its screen is two centimetres wider and there is more storage and all the kids at school will have one.
It just never ends. And I know the economy has to keep spinning, but I can’t remember the last time someone was genuine when they tried to sell me something. Or when they made it seem like it was my choice.
Some stores will ask you if you want to make a small donation to charity, when you pay for the item you just purchased. And when you decline their request, it’s as if you just told a homeless person to go starve to death.
Don’t guilt me into donating money, especially when you ambush me.
That just feels like I’m being set up and judged.
Calendars will continue to turn and the world will enter the future faster than any of us can imagine. Heck, it’s already 2017. And as time passes, technology will continue to develop.
Back to the kids of the future for a second, should we tell them now that there won’t be any jobs for them by the time they graduate because adults are hell-bent on creating robots to replace us in the workplace? Or is that something we should tell them when they’re older?
Seriously, what is this deep fascination with technology? Oh yeah, to make operations more efficient and to save money. Got it.
Well where does that leave us? The people who had to choose their career at age 17 and were told the world was their oyster.
Maybe the world is not an oyster. Maybe the world is a minefield without a map.
Maybe our peers are the map, but the world has become so connected that we fail to make the meaningful connections we all need, in order to navigate the minefield.
Woah, that was deep.
And I’d like to think the observations I’ve mentioned here today, as well as the ones that have been festering in your mind, will all be addressed so we could all live happily ever after and sing kumbaya by the fire without the urge of posting a picture of it on Instagram.
I’d like to think that we all still have a lot to learn about the world and each other. And the only way to learn is to teach – we don’t need to be in a classroom to do that.
But I don’t know what the future holds. All I know is it will hold us.
And at one point in our lives, we were a pleasure to teach.
So, what in the world happened?