In The Beginning
I know the story of my life started with “Where do I Begin”, but it actually begins with a classic song from the movie Billie Maddison when Adam Sandler is waiting for the bus to go back to school. Do you remember? If you don’t let me remind you:
Back To School
Back To School
To Prove To Dad That I’m Not A Fool
I’ve Got My Lunch Packed Up,
My Boots Tied Tight,
I Hope I Don’t Get In A Fight
Back To School
Back To School”
This short, but catchy song was stuck in my head throughout my entire youthful years while I was at high school, (didn’t help that I watched Billie Maddison like it was on repeat)
I would crack a smile and giggle to myself as I sang it to myself and to my friends as we would wait at the bus stop in the early hours to hop on the Transperth 106 and 31 buses to school.
… I would also sing it loud and proud at school
There was one part of the song that branded its line into my soul:
“To Prove To Dad That I’m Not A Fool”
Despite the harmless childish humour, hidden behind the smiling and the giggling was a trembling fear.
A trembling fear that I would “show dad I’m a fool”
It wasn’t literally just my dad I was fearful of failing, it was my mum, my brother and sister, my friends and more importantly I was fearful of failing myself, I didn’t want to prove to myself that I was a fool.
I was fearful that if I threw my opportunity away by being at school, that when I welcomed myself into the real world I won’t succeed in it
I was fearful that if I failed, I would prove to the world and myself that I was a fool.
So I did my best to show up to school every day, to pay attention in all my classes, to achieve the highest results I could so that I would increase my chances going further once my time was up.
But I realise now, all these years later as I write the story of my life that school failed me.
I never hated going to school, as much as I complained, school was probably one of the best times of my life.
It was a life of zero responsibilities, a fairly carefree life allowing me to do whatever I wanted when I wanted with not that many consequences.
But do you want to know why I dislike school? The homework, sure, the boring morning masses, yep, the teachers, a few, but more importantly than that is that school taught me to fail in “the real world.”
Stuck In The Middle
Lesson 1: You Only Have Two Options
I have always been a creative, even at school, I would listen to music to escape to a fantasy oasis of endless possibilities, far, far away from the mundane routine of going to Algebra for the first period on a Thursday morning.
My folder was covered in art, pictures of my escape mechanisms. Hidden within was a sketchbook that I used to outline and colour my imagination into reality during classes.
Simply because I didn’t care about geography, accounting or chemistry, I only cared about what I was passionate about and that was painting colours.
School doesn’t care about your fantasy oasis of endless possibilities, it doesn’t care about turning your wildest fantasies of possibilities into a reality, instead, they focus on programming you to become another robot on the assembly line.
School doesn’t focus on learning more about the colours inside your imagination, they don’t attempt to make them more vibrant, instead, their focus is to desaturate your colours so you paint your life in black and white.
School leaves you with two options:
- Pick a career, go to TAFE or University, study for another 4 years and find a job
Or if you don’t want to continue studying
- Pick a trade, get an apprenticeship for 3 – 4 years and get to work.
Oh, they also forgot to mention, you’ll probably end up hating your job and become horribly depressed because you may end up in a career that’s not painted in your colours.
Lesson 2: Life Requires More Wisdom and Less Knowledge
When I went to school, I honestly thought it would teach me everything I needed to know to function in life.
I learned how to read, spell, write and count, armed with these tools I thought I could conquer it all!
Life certainly proved me wrong.
To me, school taught me the skills to function in life, yes, but school didn’t teach me the skills to survive in life.
When I was at school and when initially left school, I had no responsibilities, life was good, really good, It was a happy moment in time.
But, nothing stays the same, things change and as I got older, I changed, my responsibilities changed, things happen that we can’t control which can negatively affect our physical and mental wellbeing.
My happiness started slipping away from me, where did it go? Why was it leaving? I couldn’t find it and if I did it was for a brief moment before leaving me again.
I eventually found myself in a dark place, no light to guide my way, trapped, I had become so unhappy with my life, depressed, I hated it.
I wasn’t surviving, I was suffering, the weight was crushing me inside. I didn’t know where to turn, who to speak too or what to do next.
Losing yourself is a horrible place to be.
I began to question, where did it all start going wrong?
School never taught me the critical life survival skills like:
- How to manage money
- How to negotiate
- How to communicate
- How to deal with rejection
- How to deal with heartbreak
- How to learn from failure
I got taught to memorise information, which was helpful to function but at the cost of not learning survival life skills.
School is designed in a way that it prepares young children to live in the world. But school lacks the ability to enhance personal growth, financial management, communication skills, emotional intelligence and healthy living habits.
Schools are not designed to teach us what matters most.
Lesson 3: We Get Graded on The Wrong Things
When it came to tests at school, I dreaded them. No matter how much I studied as soon as it came time to pick up my pen and the clock started counting down everything I retained was suddenly forgotten.
Then, as soon as the test was over everything that was forgotten suddenly returned.
Leaving the exam room I was disappointed in myself.
As you can imagine, my grades reflected my memory loss. They weren’t horrible, but I could of done a lot better.
I scrapped through.
I always had a problem with the grading system. I understood why it was there, used as a metric for me to strive for a level of achievement and to prove I was competent.
But I was being graded on subjects that never interested me, I had no burning desire, no passion for learning them, I wasn’t compelled, I saw no use with that knowledge.
Was forgetting during an exam a sign then?
I didn’t care about answering questions on the periodic table of elements, I only cared about breathing oxygen so I could paint my colours.
The grading system is flawed because I believe there are/ will be so many past, present and future students who were/ are/ will be getting graded on subjects that are completely irrelevant to their passions and the colours they see.
School sets you up to get an F in life by not grading students on what they’re passionate about.
School also sets you up to get an F in life by not teaching students the most fundamental thing about grades
You can get straight As in school, but nobody, no matter how successful, gets straight As in life. In life, you tend to get As by getting Fs first… Lots and lots of Fs.
School brainwashes us to have the mindset that any given amount of effort will always bring a measurable, predictable, and successful result.
But what I learned very quickly after school was that the real world doesn’t function like that.
This is The End
Despite my less than desirable results at school I don’t think I failed school, I don’t think I became a fool, school failed me, school plays the fool in this story.
School failed me because it’s system mentally unprepared me for the real world and its harsh terrains.
School failed me because it’s system is broken. School taught me to become another slave to the system, to follow a made-up guide on how life should be lived.
School never taught me to pursue the passions that would ignite my soul, no, school taught me to pursue what would make me inevitably unhappy.
The school system needs to change for the future mental wellbeing of students and the survival of the human race.
I had to learn how to survive outside of school.
And it all started from picking one out of the two options school left me with.