Thoughts on Today's Education and Educators
The first duty of a lecturer: to hand you after an hour’s discourse a nugget of pure truth to wrap up between the pages of your notebooks, and keep on the mantlepiece forever. -Virginia Woolfe In today’s world, the average student is bombarded with essays, problem sets, tests, quizzes, and any other assignment thinkable. In fact, he staggers so greatly under the heavy pile of papers on his desk to be completed each night, that school becomes a battle, not a place of personal and communal enrichment. In this way, the true aim of every school, which (hopefully) is to develop each individual student in body, mind and spirit while preparing them for a higher level of learning, is convoluted by the curse of “homework-overload”. I have heard many of my peers exclaim to me with exasperation, “Teachers already take seven hours of my day. Why should they take seven more hours from me after I leave school?” I could not agree with this statement any more.
School is no longer concerned about the student (St. Sebastian’s is an exception, as our emphasis placed on the individual is second to none) but instead about a teacher and his sacred curriculum. At the year’s end, the teacher will leave his classroom with a smile, for he has successfully blazed through his lineup of texts, even though he has left his students behind in the process. Education must nourish the mind and be a solace, a comfort, in the already hectic lives of students. The math teacher can call himself a true educator when during his five classes per day, he can explain why two angles are opposite-interior while communicating a fundamental human truth to his awaiting students.
I want education to teach me how to work hard without forcing me to be a hermit in my room doing problem after problem and translation after translation. Education must teach its students truth before anything else. I find it ironic that schools preach “preparation for a student’s future” as their ultimate goal, but a student’s grade is hangs in the balance over what ‘x’ is equal to, or whether he translated “raeda est in fossam” correctly. This complaint of mine might seem devoid of substance, and I fully understand this qualm. However, a student’s grades on tests build up to affect his year grade, then his transcript, then the school he gets into, then where he can go with his life and his passions. Should a student’s future be dictated by computerized tests, or by his character? If tests must in part determine a students future, let us still teach our young men character first, for if a student is a man of sound character, he will know how to work hard, will refuse a lax attitude towards his work, and control his own destiny, as it should be.
True, I am speaking with a great deal of idealism with only tinges of realism, but it is difficult to be a realist when so few academic institutions fail to do what I am advocating, and what St. Sebastian’s does. I want education to preach: “character first”. Next year, I will walk out of the halls of St. Sebastian’s for the last time as an enrolled student.
However, I will always be a student of this school, and will continue to learn from my mentors here. Thus, St. Sebastian’s will be my “alma mater” or “nourishing mother” in Latin. This, in summation, is the true definition of any school. Our respective schools raise us and develop our minds from the time when our minds are as moldable as clay, and during the week, teachers see us more than our birthmothers do. Why then, should school not be a place of comfort and of growth? Why then, should education not be to us like a feast to a starving man? In the morally bereft society we are surrounded by today, a student should be able to turn to his education for the means to be moral and maintain his character; to keep that grain of truth Virginia Woolfe speaks of in his back pocket always.
I want education to be about character, a safe place for all; a place where truth is everyone’s undying principle.