To Win or Not to Win: What Does it Mean to Win in Education?

Ever since I was young, I have always questioned myself when it comes to getting an education.  Is this certain thing what people are looking for?  By doing this certain thing, am I going to reach my goals?  Am I even doing anything right?  I get close to straight A’s, my GPA is a 3.81, and I can pretty much ace any test that I take, given that I study hard for it.  But does this mean that I succeed in education?  I’m not sure if these things should define anyone, including me, as a person.  Everyone is different and everyone has a different way of processing information and learning from it.  So why is the education system so structured?  Why do people look up to this system and let it determine their success in education?  Through personal life situations that I have been through during my years at school, I feel that my goals in education are easily influenced by everyone’s expectations in education, which should never be the case. 


As I have grown and attended school since preschool, I have realized that there is so much more to the education system than one would think.  I have also learned by having class with different people each year, everyone is unique.  Nobody has the same thinking process and everyone learns differently.  For example, when I was in sixth grade, we were asked to conduct a science experiment and following our results, we had to design a poster explaining the steps that took place.  We weren’t given any type of grading system such as a rubric, so each student had to interpret the directions in the way they thought was appropriate.  On the day that it was due, I came into school with a huge tri-fold poster board decorated with colorful pictures of my experimental process, my hypothesis, conclusion, research, and basically anything I did throughout the experiment.  Before I presented, I wanted someone to go first to make sure mine wasn’t too out of the ordinary from everyone else’s because I was only like 12 and hadn’t found confidence in myself yet.  The person that went before me walked up to the front of the room, very assertively.  As they turned their poster towards the classroom, I was shocked with the way it was put together.  The poster was very plain and boring.  It was dull as a number two pencil that desperately needs to be sharpened, the words were so small that an ant couldn’t even read them, and it contained no pictures or any color at all.  Although they did provide an exceptional explanation of the experiment, I was almost sure that I was going to get a better grade than them.  Soon after, when we got our graded posters back, I found that the student and I both got an A.  Back then, I thought that was unfair. I figured since I put more work into it, I deserved the better grade.  But looking back on it now, I thank my teacher for understanding the difference in our creativity and designs.  My classmate deserved that A.  We both contained all the information needed and without any criteria, we both met our goal of what we wanted our poster to look like.  The sad thing is, not all teachers are like this.  Some look for only creativity or only facts.  I feel that we need to be more open-minded about things like this, in order for everyone to win in education. 


As I have listed a positive experience in my education, it is now time to explain a negative one because all positive things contains some negative experiences to push you in the right direction.  When I was in fourth grade, I was asked to work on a packet to see if I was eligible to be in the Gifted and Talented program.  I was really excited at first, considering how “cool” it was to be in the program.  I turned in my packet and got accepted.  I went to Haydon Elementary so every Friday, we got on the bus in the morning and went to Round Elementary.  We met up with other gifted and talented people from all of the elementary schools and we worked together and challenged our brain all day long.  We built things, wrote papers, and worked on mind games and puzzles.  I always remember dreading this day.  I hated leaving my school.  I hated being in a program that labeled me more gifted than someone else.  It did not help that I was not good at making new friends, so I sat alone at lunch and never talked to anyone.  I used to ask my mom to write notes allowing me to skip “GT Day”.  It just wasn’t something I wanted to do.  When the year was over I felt relieved.  When I started intermediate school, everyone was treated equal.  You had the option whether to be in an honors class or not, and it has been this way ever since.  I am thankful that the system doesn’t include this type of education as you get older, but I don’t think it should be allowed at all.  I remember my friends telling me that they were jealous that I was smarter than them.  Being in that program did not make me smarter than anyone and it did not even make me smarter as a person at all.  It put me down that I was putting other people down.  It made me feel like I was losing in education instead of winning.  Labeling people is not a good idea in the education system.  It can lower people’s confidence, as well as slow them down because they feel they aren’t good enough.  Everyone is smart in their own way, which is why I have always wondered what that program was looking for exactly.  Nobody is better than someone.  Everyone is different, everyone is equal.  Everyone wins.


Everyone has their positive and negative encounters while at school.  I remember quite a few, and like most, I remember more positive than negative.  However, this particular situation contained a little bit of both.  I was in third grade and I wanted to be miss perfect.  I always completed my work, tried very hard, and did the best that I could at everything I did.  Up until that time, I had never received anything lower than a B on anything, ever.  I was never expecting anything less than an A on my work. I remember telling myself, “I’m going to get straight A’s until I am out of school.”  I wish that was the case. Little did I know, that later in life it is very common to get a grade lower than you expected.  My class took a simple math test.  I worked through it and finished every problem with confidence.  The next morning, my teacher came up to me and told me that I didn’t do so well on the test.  When I found out that I got a C, I immediately started to cry.  My mom was a substitute teacher at my elementary school, so my automatic reaction was to go talk to her about it.  While I was discussing the situation, another teacher overheard me crying.  She came up to me and taught me a lesson that I will never forget.  She told me that the average person lives to be around 75 years old, and then she told me to imagine my life on a timeline, including all the years left that I had to live (hopefully).  She explained that if this C were to be put on this timeline, it would be so small, that it would almost be invisible.  She not only left me feeling better, but she left me with advice that still use to this day.  Everyone makes mistakes in their education.  But when you look at them from the bigger picture, they aren’t always a bad thing.  They could just be a more complicated way of pushing you in the right direction.  Besides, who doesn’t like being challenged?


In conclusion, I believe that anyone can succeed in education.  It shouldn’t matter how smart you are, how different the way you learn is from others, how old you are, what gender you are, or what race you are.  After all, everyone has their own opinion in what winning in education means.  All that matters is having determination to win.  I often find that people’s goals are influenced by expectations of others, which is even a problem for me.  We need to learn how to be confident in ourselves and how to be okay with have a different opinion then others. 






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