We Are Products Of Our Environments
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We Are Products Of Our Environments

My environment and education have given me a privilege, I wish others would have the same opportunity for accessing that privilege too.

We Are Products Of Our Environments
Chicago Tribune

Are we a product of the environment or a product of self? Nature vs. nurture?

Recently, I was eating dinner with a friend. While we were eating he listed all the high achievers in his neighborhood and where they were going to college. The list included schools such as Emory, Harvey Mudd, Duke, Northwestern, and Tufts just to name a few. This wealth of prestige and excellence was all contained in the span of his neighborhood, just a few blocks of houses. Although this was a very impressive feat for his neighborhood, I couldn't help but think of the other neighborhoods around me where a college education was a pipe-dream. Although I don't know the statistics for sure, I'd also venture to say the top standardized test scores lie in his neighborhood and many other uber-educated neighborhoods like it throughout the country highlighting a vast inequality in both test scores and education.

This observation made me reflect on my past volunteering experiences through Portland Junior Scientists where I taught at-risk youth. In these areas the question isn't "where are you going to college", but rather "are you going to college". Often times the answer is no. In the elementary schools, the kids aren't taught, but rather managed, educational programs are cut, water is contaminated, lunches aren't nutritional, and high achievement is marginalized.

These schools post banners of Ivy League colleges hoping to inspire their students but in my experience, I can't recall any of the kids reaching those heights. It also is a strange environment and double-standard when some elite public schools are pristine in appearance while at these unsightly public schools I walk outside and encounter numerous needles and litter along with the smell of various intoxicants.

The truth is that we really are products of our environments.

I say this as someone who believes in both hard work and individualism, but where would I have ended up if I went to a school greeting a heroin needle every day? Where would I end up if I didn't have drinkable water or even recess and P.E.? Where would I be without the teachers and parents that have cared for me and fostered my development? Would I be a gang-banger, a drug dealer, a drop-out, or deadbeat? I don't know for sure, but what I do know is that it would have been a lot harder to achieve when everything around you is pushing to keep you down.

My environment and education have given me a privilege, I wish others would have the same opportunity for accessing that privilege too.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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