The Real Struggles of School

I recently began Year 11 at school, and after 7 or so weeks of doing my own thing, they throw me back into this mess.

Now I’m not complaining about having to go to school actually. I go to an excellent school. The people there aren’t really that bad, I get a quality education and opportunities that a lot of individuals don’t. I also get bored in the holidays really quickly on account of me being the person I am, and I guess most non-appreciative people in my position might complain about making school lunches, waking up early, having to be nice to people, wearing a uniform or having to do homework and all that. But in the spirit of being more mediocre by trying not to be; I present you with the real struggles in school.

Red Pens

Okay, you might think I’m being a bit pernickety, but I like my workbooks a certain way.

A very particular way.

I don’t have great handwriting, but I make it up with my highlighters and different coloured pens and boxes and such. Someone told me that your brain absorbs information 20% better when it’s colourful. I have no clue if that is true, but my brain refuses to read a page of notes written entirely in one colour. Actually, I’m pretty sure colour coding is my biggest procrastination method.

But anyway, when you have your tiny pencil case packed with every little thing you might ever need, you know, the usual:

  1. Four colour clicky pens to annoy everyone in the class.
  2. That weird red/pink coloured highlighter that you never actually need.
  3. A single bobby pin in case you ever have an eyebrow out of place.
  4. And bandaid to cure cancer.

It can get hard to keep it all together, so at some point, I’m going to lose that one red pen I started the year with.

That right there is my downfall.

When historians look back on our generation and wonder why we failed, they will have an answer right here…

Why is there not a standard, worldwide, known colour for red pens? Black is Black, Blue is Blue, Red is Scarlet. Red is Magenta. Red is Pink. Red is Crimson. Red is Burgundy and Blush, Cardinal, Mahogany, Maroon, Persian Red, Wine, Ruby, Terracotta, Vermillion and the blood of the ancestors who passed before you because no one could just decide that red could be ONE colour.

What ever happened to class naps?

Remember, when you were in preschool, daycare or I guess early primary school?

You’d wake up, raring to go. Get to school. Say “Hi” to all your little friends. Play tips or something. Make up a few secret handshakes. Then the bell rang, you’d do some colouring in and look at some shapes then recess. You’d go eat some shapes and do some skipping, then the bell rang again. Class… the bell rang again. You get your lunch order from the canteen, off the lovely lady who always refused to give you your food until you “said the magic word”. You played hide and seek, practice those handshakes, skipped, play equipment, built a rocket and went to the moon, saved world hunger and fought in the tenth world war, invent the telephone and get your P plates in Unicorn riding. Then the bell rang again. Lunch over, oh no, nap time. At that moment, life ended for your five-year-old self.

Now, someone, explain to me, why those naps were necessary back then, and why they aren’t now?

If 5-year-olds, packed with sugar and energy, with their healthy happy bodies and minds, with their lack of homework, schoolwork, stress, commitments, and the wanting of sleep, need 10 to 13 hours at night and 0 to 2.5 hours during the day, then why do we, 10 years on, with our school, jobs, social life, sporting commitments, family, poor eating habits, lack of free time, hormones, teenage angst and having to deal with serious issues of change (such as replacing your red pen), all the while being expected to do everything we can to prepare for our future and make decisions that will affect the rest of our lives, not receive nap time?

Do we not deserve a 15-minute break? Is it because no matter how much we do, as a generation we are ‘lazy’ and ‘entitled’? Is it ‘entitled’ to want to be lazy for a second? Would it not revive us? Why do we need sleep in order to concentrate on listening to the afternoon story book, but a nap surely wouldn’t help us engage in listening to the Asian Revolutions and the spread of imperialism? Or are we supposed to be napping during that anyway? Was there a spike in bean-bag prices? Someone… please… explain.

They make you sit on chairs, like a lunatic.

Right this second, as I’m typing this, I am sitting in my chair at my desk. I do not have a problem with chairs. Although, sometimes I feel like sitting on the floor, or on my bed or in front of a heater, and I guarantee I am not the only one. Not by a long shot. Indeed, my fondest memories of early schooling are sitting on the floor in a swarm of other kids, listening to the story or watching the movie on a rainy day.

There are so many different types of learners who learn in different environments, with different methods, sitting in all kinds of positions. Yet, classrooms have insisted for hundreds of years on the same general setup. Rows of tables, all with ideally quiet and attentive students who sit in complete, still and bewildering concentration of the teacher at the front. Okay, the cane may have been banned as punishment for students, but chairs are still here, and they are still taking time out of the teachers day, having them stop and say things like, “Don’t swing on the chairs.”, “Put ALL your feet on the ground.” or “Face the front.”, and I don’t think the education system has put too much thought into it at all.

So let me explain… KIDS, GET, BORED.

Personally, I honestly feel an intense hatred and frustration with the idea of having to sit on a chair at school for hours in the same position. It’s uncomfortable and often distracting. When I was in eighth grade, my favourite English teacher (who ended up moving away at the end of the year, and crushed us all by the way) let our class sit outside one lesson. We went out and sat outside in the beautiful weather, with good lighting and an interactive and relaxed environment, given our task to do in, however, manner we wished. The number of times I have asked my teachers since then if we could stay outside for the lesson is astronomical. Although I am more than capable of learning efficiently enough in the typical classroom set up, freedom in my learning or at least just some choice or change in the usual routine will always interest and motivate me.

The excitement I feel upon walking into a classroom which usually had rows of desks and finding that the teacher had grouped the desks into fours for a ‘group activity’ or just because the class before us were trying something different out is unexplainable. I’m immediately ready for whatever that class asks of me. I find these are often the subjects I enjoy and become interested in. These are the subjects that I get good marks in, because I actually want to go to class and I want to participate and I don’t have to dread the idea of being cooped up inside at a desk of two people in a seating plan next to someone I don’t know or like, having to sit straight with ‘six legs on the ground’, listening to a teacher who expects me to learn to the best of my ability, without any concern for the way I’d best learn it.

As you can see, there are things about school which I don’t completely love… and these are only three. I’d like to say, that for the most part, I really do enjoy school. I know that it is a blessing in itself to be able to go to school in the first place to be able to whine about all these things. If I didn’t get to have an education, I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this. My point is, as many complaints we have about school and the life we live that plenty of people would gladly take on our ‘problems’ and although I’m not happy about these particular things, I am glad that I have the opportunity to be unhappy with them if that makes sense?