Why High School Makes Me Feel Like A Guinea Pig

I have recently come to the conclusion that high schoolers are not students: we are guinea pigs.


Yes, you heard me correctly. It’s the fifth week of school, and the last of us at Arbor View High School have now been successfully transformed into our trained guinea pig selves, a state which we will remain in for the next eight months. The routines have been established, the schedules drilled into our brains. We are officially the school year versions of ourselves—three thousand mindless zombies traipsing though the hallways.

I was quite shocked when I came to this realization several days ago. I received the revelation upon opening my locker, number 8008, without scanning the rows for its location or having to pause to remember my combination. That is when I became conscious of the fact that most of the things we do at school, we accomplish on auto-pilot. After eleven years in the public school system, it only now has dawned on me that we are merely a bunch of adolescent robots, and we don’t even know it.

The bell schedule itself has us acting like Pavlov’s dogs. The fact that our own sense of time and the entire order of our day is reliant on that annoying dinging which announces to the school that the next four minutes have been designated for walking to a different classroom is quite pathetic, when you think about it. I know I am not the first whose initial impulse is to jump out of their seat when the bell accidentally rings in the middle of a class. Sometimes even the fire alarm convinces me that it’s time to go to my next period.

Think about it. The bell rings, you walk to class. It’s automatic. You know where you’re going. You probably won’t remember the trip once you get there. You enter the classroom, your feet automatically leading you to your assigned seat. It’s as if you go from copying down notes without reading them in first period to magically sitting in second period, just like that. And what about all the busy work we have to do each day? Copying answers out of textbooks, always focused on the answers sticking in our paper and not necessarily our heads. Thinking ahead about the night’s homework load, when we’ll sit at our desks at home and dive into the mindlessness again.

We are conditioned to do all these things, like taking out our supplies at the beginning of class and raising our hand when we want to speak. We don’t have to think about any of it. It’s all second nature to us, like breathing. My problem with that is, shouldn’t school be about more than breathing? I mean, from the time we start school, especially in high school, it’s pounded into our heads that getting an education is the basis for the rest of our lives. We’re supposed to be learning, growing, thinking new thoughts, and yet here we all are, hardly able to distinguish one day from the next, this year from the last. Is it just me, or are we missing the point?

Maybe I should just get a new locker.





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