Although this year in Freestyle is my first, it is also my last as I am graduating this year. Upon exiting high school, I wanted to reflect back on my life as a teenager in high school. I have learned that you have to accept and love yourself if you want to confidently carry out every day activities. Through the Reflections unit in Freestyle, we did self reflection in class and we created whatever we wanted, there were no limits. In Design I got to express my emotions through graphic art, and in english, we wrote personal statements which dug deep into who the true me is.
In my personal essay, I discuss my perspective about the education system in America our education system. This is something I feel strongly about and wish to improve in the future. For english our assignment was to reflect on moments from our lives and how they have changed us. In my essay, I talk about how school is a game and the students must follow or they will not get into their favorite top-ranking college.
Playing The Game: Welcome to the 21 Century
While some people believe that education is about getting their child to a good college, landing a high paying job or just getting perfect grades to demonstrate personal excellence, education should really be about preparing a child to become passionate about learning, curious about the world and an informed citizen prepared for anything that life brings. Maintaining a meaningful education these days can be extremely challenging because the educational system today is extremely prescribed and competitive. However, there are ways that students can succeed in school while simultaneously keeping their studies interesting and meaningful. It requires that students learn how to fail the “correct way” which is to engage with their mistakes and quickly take action with teachers and parents to correct them. In this way students can get inspired to improve what they failed and learn from their mistakes while showing their teachers that they are passionate about learning and want to improve. Although it is tough to maneuver through the competitive environment of school, it is important to remember that a meaningful education involves not letting the competition get in the way of true learning and challenging yourself to fail, regroup and re-learn as the cornerstone of true achievement.
Education these days, especially in competitive areas like the Silicon Valley is more about getting perfect grades and competing for the success and the high paying jobs. In my experience, last year in the eighth grade I took chemistry and physics and my science teacher kept asked about which courses the students should take in high school. The two classes suggested were Biology and Biology Honors and he recommended the one that he thought would get us the best possible grade, not the one he thought was interesting or engaging . I decided to take Biology Honors and struggled at the beginning but loved the class and was very challenged. The problem was that I had a bad grade and recently decided to drop the class despite lots of extra classroom hours and conversations with my teacher. My concern was that despite my love of honors biology, it was not worth getting a C grade or worse. This is an example of how a child’s love for education can be ruined by a bad grade because they might get labeled and lose interest. “I used to think that we needed to create a world where every child had an equal chance to get to the Ivy League. I’ve come to see that what we really need is to create one where you don’t have to go to the Ivy League, or any private college, to get a first rate education.” (Don’t send your kids to the Ivy League- Derewicz) This quote relates to my experience because Biology Honors is a first rate class and it is extremely competitive. Not to mention it is the class that a person takes if they want to be a doctor or some profession related to life science. However, since I didn’t succeed in the class I realized that because I was struggling and had to drop out of the class, that it wasn’t fair to me because I really enjoyed that class. So far my educational journey has been exactly like all the articles have put it. I noticed that throughout my life I always knew that I didn’t enjoy learning, that is until the competition for grades started. When I was younger I truly loved to learn and I enjoyed participating in class and many other things. When I got to around the fourth grade, that is when it all started going downhill. I got my first bad grade and I remember the horror and disgust that I got when I looked at my test. After that I realized that learning was stressful and not fun anymore which is about when education starting feeling like something I was forced to do versus something that I used to love to do. This is an example of me being one of many different kinds of students are labeled based on their performance and losing interest of the idea of education all together.
I plan to navigate education by always remembering why I am in school in the first place which is to learn and make mistakes. This process of keeping a meaningful education is often challenging because of the competitive mindsets that are implanted into students by their teachers, parents, etc. Teachers should focus on actually developing a student’s mindset to love learning and keeping education meaningful instead. On the other hand, students should always remember the purpose of education rather than being in school for getting to the next grade and getting straight A’s. “Who cared about or enjoyed learning when our whole being was at stake every time she gave us a test or called on us in class?” (Dweck- The Mindsets) In this quote, Dweck explains that children these days were more focused on seeming smart than actually learning the content presented to them. Now, it’s about how much a person can learn instead of how much potential a person has to learn. In the next few years of my journey through education my goal is to stay true to the ideal education which is very meaningful. One of the things that can be done is to always remember what the purpose of participating in such a difficult process also known as school. I must remember that the reason of school is to learn, and not just memorizing flash cards, I mean learning about all aspects of life which happens to be reality. Another way that I can navigate through my educational journey is to not overwork myself and not to get too competitive because then the interest in learning is lost and then I start playing the “game of school.”
The ultimate purpose of education is to make sure that competition for grades don’t interfere with the true meaning which is to make children want to learn and make them interested in learning. As I mentioned earlier, I wanted to drop Biology Honors because it was too hard and didn’t get a good grade but I really loved the teacher and the class. However, I dropped out because I was not succeeding and that is not what the true meaning of education is. “Sadly, it is probably true that the Game of School is something that we have no reasonable choice but to master. We need to submit to the mandate of powerful people who want us to learn to read, write, use numbers, and behave appropriately with other children and with adults.” (Game of School- Fried) According to this quote, children now being raised in the twenty-first century are thrown into the competitive education system and are forced to get good grades in order to ultimately succeed and enter the workforce.
All in all, having a meaningful education can be tough these days because of the competition, learning how to fail the right way and always remembering to engage with mistakes instead of running away from them. On top of that, it can also be hard to recall that the true meaning of education is not to let competition for grades impact the overall learning process. Education should ultimately be about preparing students for all aspects of life including following your passion, becoming an informed citizen in the community and being productive in the world. This is an extremely important topic because we don’t want kids to grow up in a world where everything is a competition and is always stressful. Ultimately the real question we must ask ourselves is are there ways to revert our education system back to the arguably better way it was or is the U.S. trapped by the politics of an over competitive society where life is just a game that has to be won?
An assignment we had in digital media was that we had to write a rant about anything we wanted and I ranted about the pressures of fitting in high school. This assignment really helped me unlock knowledge who I really am. I used Adobe After effects to create this video. Below is a screenshot of my work on After effects, specifically, putting an image into the composition.
It bugs me that people in high school are so exclusive. Like, if I’ve been friends with someone for twelve years, then why is it that they can’t look me in the eye when I pass them in the hall? Being “friends” with people in high school always seems like walking on thin ice to me. For example, I’ve had multiple experiences in the past few years where I’ve had super deep and meaningful friendships with people for a prolonged period of time and all of a sudden, they just fall through, and for what? Maybe they’ve found someone else they like better? Even still, it just seems like a waste to me. Like the memories that my ex-friends and I shared are just gone forever. When I talked to my mom about this issue, she told me it’s because everyone in high school is insecure and that in college the friendships you have are there to last and people are less flaky. I’ve always known that college is way more fun than high school, but it’s hard because I can’t just magically make time go faster and so I’m not sure how to deal with high school problems for the next seven months. To sum up though, high school would probably be a lot easier for people if everyone set aside their egos and were a bit nicer to their peers. With a perspective, I’m Eric Wagenbrenner.
I am no longer part of film but I did happen to do the reflections video essay assignment which is something that I am proud of. My video is about how ADD has impacted my life in various ways that both hindered and improved my success.
When I was a little kid I was diagnosed with ADD, a learning disorder that makes it difficult to concentrate on certain things. While unbothered by ADD for the early stages of my life, it really started to take its toll on me when I got to high school and stress levels amplified. Even on simple assignments that only took a few minutes, I would take multiple hours to do all my homework because I’d get so distracted. My frustration levels peaked because I wanted to do my work, but so many other thoughts flooded my mind that I just couldn’t stay focused. ADD is invisible to most people because it is not something that is right in front of you. However, the fact that ADD cannot be noticed is what makes it such an unrecognized and overlooked issue. Most of my family has ADD and I am one of the lucky few who has been taught how to deal with it which is why I am so open about it. Sadly though, I’ve encountered many people at my school with ADD who don’t receive any support for it because their parents don’t believe it actually exists and choose not to deal with it and it impacts their lives in negative ways. In my case, I feel very lucky because without my family’s support, I’m not sure how I would cope with ADD. In fact, even though it has has made my life more challenging in many ways, part of me is grateful that I have ADD because even in the Silicon Valley which is one of the most competitive places in the world, the things I have accomplished in my life that have lead me to the place I’m at today prove that nothing, not even a learning disorder can stop me from achieving my goals.
I used various shots around my house of my family talking at the dinner table and home videos from when I was a toddler. I did all the filming in one night and did all my editing through Adobe Premiere Pro and recorded my voice with an audio voice recorder.
By doing this project, I revealed how I truly feel about ADD.