On Education

A lot of this essay was inspired by Ken Robinson, whose video we have posted in this blog. So watch his TED video and also read this. 

Perhaps it has become a cliché to assert that the most important issue of our generation, but, like most clichés, it is completely and absolutely true.

The purpose of an education is to inspire. Inspire growth, inspire knowledge, inspire generosity and altruism. Our current education system is about as inspiring as black mold. Each and every child’s mind is drilled for the same resources: math and literacy. These subjects are given highest priority all over the globe.

Okay, I’m going to ask you to go on a little mind-journey with me. Take yourself back ten years, to the year 2002. I was eight. The Internet had just taken off, no one had ever heard of an iPhone, and not even Facebook was widely used. In other words, the world was very different to how it is now, and no one could have imagined what 2012 would look like.

We are educating the current generation to live and work ten, twenty, and thirty years into the future. No one can imagine the challenges we will face, or what will give one student a leg up over another. While math and English classes are very important, isn’t physical activity important? What if 2012 ends in an apocalypse and people have to run around, fighting aliens and foraging for the last edible substances? Those people would have a better chance of surviving if they knew the basics of how to care for their bodies and were in reasonably good shape. Steve Jobs, who tragically died this year, could not have created the iPhone without a stupendous creativity and passion for good design. Yet, I struggle to fit an art class into my schedule.

Our world and our education system are shifting under our feet. Everyone in my generation understands the term “Academic Inflation.” A job in which an undergraduate degree was once sufficient now needs a masters degree, a masters now needs a Ph. D, and so on. My parent’s didn’t understand why people would sit around and block up Wall Street for months, but I empathized with the protestors, though I didn’t agree with their methods. Occupy Wall Street was a cry for help from the overqualified, over-educated members of my generation who were in debt from student loans but couldn’t find a profession job worthy of their education. We generally discourage students from working with their hands and are trained to consider plumbers, welders and electricians to be a lower form of being, while they are paid well and have the opportunity of growth and independence in the work place. What more could you ask for? Being a plumber is certainly more fun than having a Ph. D in English and being unable to find a job.

Shakespeare didn’t go to college, but his grammar school taught him how to read and think for himself, and so he became the most successful playwright…ever. We need to stress well-roundedness and independence in our education system, we need to give good teachers a chance to do their jobs, and we need to give bad teachers the boot. Most of all, students should be encouraged to do whatever they like best, because people doing what they love best are the people who make the world go round. 

Luck and Love, 

E

(Pictures from http://www.scificool.com/roland-emmerich-posits-the-end-of-the-world-in-2012/ and http://money.cnn.com/2011/10/10/news/economy/occupy_wall_street_protest/index.htm)

This is an official blog entry for the YourLocalSecurity.com <a href=”http://yourlocalsecurity.com/scholarship”>Blogging Scholarship</a>. If selected, I’ll receive $1000 towards my college expenses in 2012. This scholarship is sponsored by <a href=”http://yourlocalsecurity.com”>YourLocalSecurity.com</a&gt;

The Scale Epiphany

“Get off the scale! You are beautiful. I have yet to see a scale that can tell you how enchanting your eyes are. I have yet to see a scale that can show you how wonderful your hair looks when the sun shines its glorious rays on it. Get off the scale because I have yet to see one that can admire you for your perseverance when life challenges you. I have yet to see a scale that can thank you for your compassion, sense of humor, and contagious smile. Don’t give the scale more power than it has earned. Take note of the number, then get off the scale and live your life. You are beautiful!”

-Steve Maraboli

So as I was standing on my scale the other day I had an epiphany (and then I found the wonderful quote above, which is like, FATE). Sometimes I FEEL fat. In no way shape or form am I “fat”. Although truthfully I don’t even know what fat is anymore. Truly. I mean, fat is such an ugly hideous word with negative connotations and an awful rep. What is fat? It’s relative and its changing and it’s UGLY, is what it is. But sometimes I FEEL really “fat”. I’m not at my fittest weight but I am working to become a healthier and fitter person. But ANYWAY.  I will discuss this later. But as I was standing on my scale I was kind of like, “WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING?” Yea. That’s exactly what popped into my head. The thing is, every single day, thousands and thousands of women around the globe step on the scale in search of validation of beauty and social acceptance. You know what scales measure? They measure the pull that gravity has on you. They measure my proclivity for chocolate and my inclination for a good bowl of ice cream. That’s it. Gravity is this massive thing that keeps us down on the earth. GUYS! WE CAN DEFY GRAVITY!! WE HAVE FLOWN TO THE MOON!!! That is what I was thinking. And I just want to share that. That’s all scales can measure. My scale cannot measure how fast I can multiply numbers in my head. 13×17=221. Yea. I just did that in like 3 seconds flat. I am a human calculator. And my scale cannot measure that. My scale cannot measure how hard I can hit a volleyball. My scale cannot measure how far I can run. My scale cannot measure how hard I laugh when I’m happy. My scale cannot measure how people feel when I smile at them. My scale cannot measure how fast I soak up books. My scale cannot measure the funniness of my stupid jokes. My scale cannot measure my ability to make people feel loved. My scale cannot measure how deep the conversations I have with E are. My scale cannot measure my integrity. My scale cannot measure the music I can make with my fingers. My scale cannot measure my love for adventure or my unending curiosity of the world around me. My scale cannot measure the way I feel when I hug someone really hard or the way I look when I don my favorite pair of heels. Why do we let scales measure out or capacity for happiness? Scales cannot measure our inner beauty, our capacity for life, or our ability to succeed. They cannot measure our ambition, our ability to love, our creativity. They cannot measure our strength, our talent, our potential. They cannot measure our affection, our enthusiasm, or our willingness to live. They cannot measure our tenacity, our dedication, or our motivation. Nor can they measure the way we deal with hardships, the way we fight for our beliefs. They cannot measure our charm, our friendships, or the stuff that we are made of.

We’re beautiful guys. We all are. NOT because of how much we weigh. But because of who we are.

Kisses, Kisses, and More Kisses

-P

Reckless Abandon

Something I have been doing over the break is taking naps in the middle of the afternoon with reckless abandon. The thing about me is…I do NOT know what a power nap is. Or a cat nap. Or anything of that sort. If you put the word short in front of the word nap I will stare at you with glassy eyes and you will be met with a very confused and slightly angry demeanor. The thing is, when I take a “nap” it’s like a five hour nap. But it’s really not a waste of time. It’s wonderful. And refreshing. And I have beautiful dreams.

So really. Sometimes it’s okay to take a nap in the middle of the day. Even if it’s for five hours. I promise. The world will keep turning. And chances are, you probably needed that five hours anyway.

Oodles of LOVE

-P

Rebuttal to E: P’s Interpretation of the Nightingale and the Rose

So as all of you know, E didn’t really like the story of the nightingale and the rose. And for obvious reasons. I mean, it IS a pretty depressing story. But I have to disagree on what should be taken out of the story.

Let’s think about it. Stories are supposed to make you think. They’re supposed to make you question what you believe in. Say the nightingale had died and the Student had given the rose to his girlfriend and they had lived happily ever after. No one would remember this story! What would be the point? After I read this story I thought, “Wow. If I had been that girl I might have done the same exact thing. But after reading this story I won’t choose the riches over the flower, because who knows the story behind the flower?” The point of the story is to make us think. About how we may be wasting our resources or how we may be taking things for granted, like the ability to love or just the beauty of a crimson rose.

If you go to Wikipedia and you check up the word martyr, a lot of definitions pop up.

Here are the six common features of martyrdom.

1.     A hero- A person of some renown who is devoted to a cause believed to be admirable.

2.     Opposition- People who oppose that cause.

3.     Forseeable Risk- The hero foresees action by opponents to harm him or her, because of his or her commitment to the cause.

4.     Courage and Commitment-The hero continues, despite knowing the risk, out of commitment to the cause.

5.     Death- The opponents kill the hero because of his or her commitment to the cause.

6.     Audience Response- The hero’s death is commemorated. People may label the hero explicitly as a martyr. Other people may in turn be inspired to pursue the same cause.

So there we are. Courage and commitment. Things we all strive for—was the nightingale so wrong to be courageous and committed to what she believed? She believed the heart of a man was greater than the heart of a bird and so she knew what had to be done. But I think the most important part is the sixth one. “Other people may in turn be inspired to pursue the same cause.” Others will fight for love. I think that’s what Oscar Wilde was trying to say. We’ll fight for love. What would happen if we tried to take love away? People would fight for it. They would die for it. And I’m not saying let’s all go be really drastic and angsty and kill ourselves for the love of others, I’m just saying appreciate what the nightingale did. Appreciate her sacrifice, and be willing to fight for love. Even if it is only in small ways.

When E and I were discussing this poem E said, “She should have used her problem solving skills to find another rose or some other kind of dye to feed to the tree to turn the rose red. And then she could have lived and the student boy could have given his stupid crush a rose without a beautiful bird being sacrificed!” I think as humans we do this a lot. We’re unwilling to sacrifice. I know I do it all the time. I rationalize why I shouldn’t do some things or I listen to my head instead of my heart. But here’s the thing. Red dye wouldn’t have worked. The point was that the bird didn’t have problem solving skills. She was unlike the Student. Instead of reason, logic, and philosophy, she has only love and emotion. And this is what she acts on. And that’s okay. It’s okay sometimes to let your emotions be stronger than your reason. (Just please try not to let it get you killed like in this story.) The point of the story is that red dye won’t work. She has to build it out of music by moonlight and stain it with her own heart’s blood. She was willing to sacrifice for love. And truthfully there are many things I AM willing to sacrifice for. My mom, my dad, my brothers, E, my best friends: I would do anything for them. And even on a less drastic level…we should be willing to sacrifice. Lose an argument once in a while, sacrifice an evening, abdicate something we like, but someone else would like more. A lot in life is about sacrifice and how much we are willing to compromise.

Next point. Yes, the nightingale died. But guess what? It created a beautiful crimson rose. A rose that had the capability to create love. The nightingale took a risk!! Yes, she may have failed, but she died for what she believed in: LOVE. In E’s argument she brings up a Tale of Two Cities (one of my favorite books by Dickens, you guys should read it if you haven’t). She says that Carton sacrifices his life for Darnay and his family. But the future isn’t set in stone! Darnay and his family could have been caught on their escape out and died. Random lightning bolts could have rained out of the sky and smitten them dead! Would it all have been in vain then? NO. IT’S THE THOUGHT. It’s the thought that counts. It’s the willingness to fight for something that you believe in. That nightingale took a risk. She took a risk. And she died for what she believed in. And yes, that’s the end of her life. She will never again be able to sing or create love or anything. But guess what? All the other nightingales will speak of her tale. They will sing of a nightingale who wished to create a world with more love. And they won’t be afraid to love. Or die for love. And one day a nightingale will die for love and the love won’t be wasted. The girl will accept the rose and her and the student will dance the night away and fall madly in love. And a girl in a small town in Texas will appreciate the beauty of a rose. I guess what I’m trying to say here is that you have to take risks. You have to take risks and you have to know that sometimes you will fail. You will fail and that will be the end. And you have to be okay with that. Millions have failed before one succeeds. The path to success is one that is riddled with failures. We take billions of risks. Everyday, everywhere. And only a few pay off. But when they do pay off, it’s worth more than anything we could have ever imagined.

So I’m sorry for this extremely long-winded post but I just thought ya’ll should know where I was coming from when I posted that.

Snowflakes and Hugs,

-P

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.

J. R. R. Tolkien

What a powerful message about hope and how things are often more than they appear!