Category: Eyes on the World

What We Didn’t Learn

If you ever care to watch the morning news,

Or to read up on those studies scientists like to do,

You’ll see that more people than in the past,

Are getting their college degrees in mass.

You’ll hear the benefits of such a degree,

From those smiling, educated faces on TV.

But of the turmoil of that degree, the public is left in the dark

And on that journey, many ignorantly embark.

College is meant to make us better people,

With campuses full of buildings, beauty, and captivating steeples.

But the sacrifices for a degree are not found in any pamphlet

They are far darker than any I have met.

You have to get a degree, they say

So that you can have your life your way.

Well, if panic attacks and lack of sleep were what I wished for,

 Perhaps I would have gone through a cheaper door.

We sell our identities to become one tiny letter

Which define our skills and classify us as “better.”

One letter becomes a number from one to four.

We all fight for that one hundredth of a point more.

Yes, we gain more knowledge of subjects and skills,

But what are we willing to sacrifice to pay that bill?

We fill our minds with textual information

Then sacrifice any other type of inspiration.

We live in debt for the rest of our lives

To pay for a paper that saves us from financial demise.

 We learn of the ways of social interaction

As we hide away in a library contraption.

We learn business skills to interact with others

Then savagely steal a table to study when there are no others.

We are told to take arts to make us rounded,

But we spend too much time studying to see anything astounding.  

During test week, everything becomes a free for all.

“It’s not addiction,” she says as she pops her seventh Adderall.

We turn to coffee to fight off much needed sleep

Wasting time to sleep makes us weak.

Schooling was once used to feed our families with a better vocation,

But now we sacrifice family time and meals in the name of education.

“Procrastination” is doing anything that isn’t school work,

When we try to have fun, the homework starts to lurk.

We look online to find the summary of a book,

Because with our 5 page paper and test, we didn’t have time to look.

School is no longer about seeking out knowledge

 It’s just about saying we made it through college.

Four years, maybe more, of suffering, torment, and pain,

All for a job from which we one day hope to gain.

A shiny paper and smiling face are the results people see,

But how do I show the stress and anxiety?

No one ever said college would be easy,

No one ever made it seem breezy.

But college is no longer about learning skills to thrive.

It’s about how much you can go without and still survive.

We sacrifice our happiness, our compassion, and our care for our self,

To gain a paper that we frame and put on our shelf.

We sacrifice free time, sleep, and food,

Even if we end up in a delirious mood.

College was intended to teach us more than how to get an occupation.

It was to teach us how to be humans seeking global participation.

I would hate to see what the world would come to,

If no one could help because they had homework to do.

Failing is an Art

I took the pen in shaky hand and traced the letters I could barely see.

An “R” with too many humps, a backwards “E.”

The word I made, that was me.

Age three.

I started school young. As a child, I always craved more.

My intellect, my parents did not ignore.

“Smart” was what I was. What more?

Age four.

To hold me back? I’d be bored my teacher implied.

I must move to first grade or I’d be deprived.

School was what kept me alive.

Age five.

I entered into elementary school.

Learned my fractions, my spelling and every social rule.

I took a test. It said I was smart.

So math became my focus. Personally, I preferred art. 

Five years passed and they assessed my every skill.

I took tests and learned facts, oblivious to their will.

Elementary passed by more quickly than you’d think.

I blinked once and it was gone in a wink.

Middle school came unexpectedly soon.

And so came friends, cliques and boys to make you swoon.

Still, I learned English, science, history, and math.

Late to class? Detention. Even if a fight blocked your path.

High school came as a stepping-stone to graduation.

It was never too early to submit an application.

Get them out and into college, was the teacher’s cry.

Made only a 65? Clearly they didn’t try.

Take these tests for college credit.

The book was assigned. You better have read it.

Homework took longer than class.

Doing an extracurricular? No way you’ll pass.

Did I learn in all of these 12 years of class?

Well, I did my work, made it to college and am still managing to pass.

But what did I learn that made me so “smart?”

Was it the APs, the advanced course? Well it surely wasn’t art.

I learned how to remember the formulas I was taught.

I learned how to find the answers that the question sought.

But how many nights did I stay up studying?

How many nights turned into session of crying?

The only coloring books I had were long green sheets,

My thin gray crayons, my masters of defeat.

A number at the bottom determined my fate.

Failures were not given a retake.

But, now I ask, if failing is so frowned upon then why is it happening now?

If not in graduation rates or tests scores, then how?

We have failed to be people, as we were created to be.

Grades and ranks and scores are all that define me.

We have been taught to become the books were are reading,

And not to just absorb the knowledge we are receiving.

We are trained to be dictionaries and calculators,

To prevent us from being janitors or waiters.

But when are we taught how to be a good person?

We promote SAT words but forget to condemn cursing.

We promote math and science as necessary parts.

Then criticize those who only excel in art.

People are more than just memorization machines.

We can be kind, compassionate or even mean.

But when was the class on loving others?

Where was the course on being a brother?

We learn to compete with numbers and ourselves.

You have to be the best in order to excel.

But we need people of all kinds to make our world thrive.

We need more than just book lessons to survive.

Artists are not failures, though failure is an art.

Don’t push too hard those who have begun to fall apart.

Self-discovery is a necessity to truly have an education.

We need to teach people basic communication.

Art and theatre and music are your passions?

Go forth with your dream to design fashion.

We need people to create the books that change our thoughts

But how can we do that when we’re never truly taught?