A Blue Print for Academic Success

August 29, 2010
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Many students can recall standing in front of their kindergarten class and reciting the alphabet. We all have faint memories of repeating the order and pronunciation of each letter after our teacher. We learned to emulate our instructors with perfection, knowing that it-imitation- was probably the best way to succeed in the modern American educational system. If a person said the alphabet in the wrong order or didn't recognize the difference between an “A” or a “P”, they probably would be deemed “below average” or “dumb” or worst of all, “mentally challenged”.
As good as another year of “nap time” may have sounded to me at the age of five; I refused to bare the stigma of being “special” or different, which had a very negative connotation at my catholic elementary school. I suppressed my intellectual curiosity and made sure I conformed to the kindergarten norms, but one day I stepped outside of my boundaries and asked my teacher a question that literally changed my perspective of the educational system.
Before class could start its daily chanting of the alphabet, I threw my hand in the air and waved it frantically until the teacher noticed me. She called my name and I sat up in my chair and asked in a nervous fashion why did “a” come before “b”. The entire class responded with laughter and the teacher gave me a puzzled look. She put her head down as if she had to think, then rose up and told me to stop asking “silly questions”. I swallowed hard and felt tears build in my eyes as the class began to roar with laughter once more. Embarrassment overwhelmed me and my teacher began to give a spiel on how asking dumb questions interrupted the learning process. I unthinkingly hollered out that I only wanted to know why. She squeaked furiously “That’s just the way it is!” and demanded that I be content with her answer, but it was too late.
I had an instant paradigm shift and refused to accept her erratic answer. I suddenly became driven to understand why things happened, how things happened, and when things happened. I began seeking knowledge and understanding instead of memorizing, emulating, and regurgitating what someone else told me. I entered a new realm in which I valued my intellectual curiosity even when others may have found my ideas radical. I also realized that everyone was unique in their own way and that my individuality defined my purpose in society.
However, my school, like others, still tended to shun individuality and praise uniformity. Since I chose to venture from the average thought process of child, my teacher scolded me for my critical thinking instead of valuing my ambition to learn more than required of me. For some reason, some schools are operated like factories that are attempting to mass produce the “ideal student”. When a student steps out of the mold or doesn't fit the pre-designed “blueprint for academic success”, they immediately become a threat to the school's “educational conveyor-belt” and are dropped into the “faulty product bin”, which is usually detention or special education classes. However, this attempt to create a utopian educational system would deter the progress of innovation and bring creativity to an abrupt halt.
Intellectual curiosity is the foundation for creativity and creativity is basis for innovation, which is usually linked to progress. If no one ever thought outside the box then progress in all disciplines would cease. For instance, imagine an art instructor telling Leonardo Da Vinci that his painting didn't adhere to a certain guideline or J.K. Rowling's high school English teacher telling her that her storyline wasn't organized correctly. These are perfect examples of how discouraging creativity can lead to destroying innovation. How can anything “new” come into existence if someone doesn't think “beyond” what concretely exist now? Therefore, many schools must cease with the idea that human beings can be educated through a prepackaged curriculum that is universal and always works for every single student.





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Lizz said...
Mar. 17, 2012 at 6:33 pm
Bravo! I really like this, and right now, I'm trying to write my essay on why innovation is important for the Honors Program at Geneseo, and this really inspired me. I have felt the same way, and that's partially what my essay is about. 
 
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