From the first day of kindergarten to the last day of high school, you are constantly told what to do. You are expected to do as ordered by teachers, administrators, and other figures of authority. I never really felt like we ever did anything we wanted to do. I would say that kindergarten was my favorite year, but I really only have faint memories about it, which could be the reason. It could also be because I did not realize our lack of choice back then, we just did as we were told. Even though that might have been beneficial, it simply molds us students into obedient and compliant members of society, often incapable of going against its expectations.
There I am, the short, curly haired boy sitting in a two foot tall chair, anxiously awaiting for my first day of school to start. I didn’t go to preschool or anything like it, so this was the first time being in the environment. I’m six years old, wondering who all of these slobbery kids are. Anyways, the teacher comes in and introduces herself and has us do the same. From that point on, I did my best to stay quiet. It was in that first year that I figured out what I enjoyed doing the most. Drawing, coloring, and anything else related took up all of my time, although I wasn’t very good whatsoever. I was also very fond of dinosaurs, so I drew them. I did that for months and was impressing my teachers. It was something that I did not have to talk to anyone for. I could sit down and focus on me. No one else told me my actions were right or wrong, or that I should do something else in my time.
That is rather how my entire elementary experience was like. I would liked to say I grew out of my shell, but I crawl back to it from time to time, typically doing as I am told. I still don’t know why I was like that, or still am. I made a lot of friends in my classes, too. I rarely talked to them outside of school since I was focused primarily on school. This was the case because of my parents’ ideals and viewpoint on the importance of education.
My father grew up in Honduras. He recalls stories about his home and family, telling my brothers and I how their house was built out of clay and other earthly materials. There was no electricity in the house; only in the urban areas of the country. He came from a very large family and was raised on a farm, or ranch. He told me that he had only gone to school until 8th grade. My mother, from Mexico, had a very similar background. She always expresses how she loved to go to school. She tells me about her perfect scores and grades. Her dad, my grandfather, however, ordered her to stop going in order to help out on the ranch. She was crushed. Both of my parents constantly remind me how important it is to put in my best effort in school. They say in Spanish, “Tienes que estudiar para tu futuro”, meaning that I must study in order to prepare for my future. They told us that if we did our best, we would have very few problems as adults, financially speaking, unlike how they were. That expectation stuck with me to this day.
After elementary, I was still very focused on my grades and performance in academics. The fifth grade was very different though. I got my first “F” on an assignment I miraculously forgot to do. To be completely honest, I felt like crying. I never told anyone that, but it just felt horrible. Nowadays, getting an “F” is relatively unimportant. It’s funny looking back at it, I cared so much about perfect grades and behavior. I was also still quite interested in the world of art. I continued drawing as a hobby up until seventh grade, if I remember correctly. That was the year when I learned about careers. I don’t remember exactly who said it, but someone had told me that I should do very well in my algebra class since it is the basis of every math class beyond it. It made me question why things got serious all of a sudden. Then my teachers began talking about what careers pay the most, or which ones were the most ambitious or prestigious. Art was not one of the fields they talked about. It was all engineering, computer sciences, and technology.
Soon enough, I gave up my interest in drawing. I had gotten quite talented, as I was told. I wish I kept going. As that form of expression faded away from me, another one drifted in: music. I was in eighth grade. I was first chair for every concert, I really liked it. I was still young, so I did not think about how I would have to focus on these things for my future.
Should I have a career in music or engineering? I began having this thought in my head in 9th grade. This first year of high school made it clear that I had to start thinking about my future beyond senior year. I had to put myself ahead of the majority. I had done well in my previous mathematics and science classes and gained interest towards the fields of engineering and architecture. Because of this, it was unclear to me what I really wanted to do. If I go with engineering, I’ll be earning so much money. If I go with music, I’ll be happier. I know that there is the opportunity to The problem is that money can buy you the things that you absolutely need; food, housing, water, clothes, etc. High school has also told me to go for the money. It is the universal language. This is why I am having such a hard time making the choice.
I have been playing guitar for two years now. I feel as if it has become the replacement for my interest in drawing, but I have grown to love it even more. It is something that takes my mind of school, which in itself shows how I feel about public education. Every time I listen to music, or play one of my instruments, I learn. I learn that if you can not express yourself in words, or in general speaking, it is easier and more effective to do so in the form of sound. Being in school for eleven years has taught me that most people often don’t care what you have to say. We are only expected to score high on tests or in classes, and if you struggle, you’re seen as dumb, or stupid, by others. In my viewpoint, that is the number one issue regarding my educational experience.