I was in my English class today, a lecture hall that focuses predominantly on reading novels and interpreting why stories are told when my professor looked up at all of us and called us "survivors."
Confused at where this was going to lead, he continued by saying "You guys are in a dangerous time. My son is in middle school and living it now, and it terrifies me, but you guys survived it. For you to be sitting here, still passionate about books, still wanting to learn and read and write, your creativity was salvaged."
He continued by saying, "My son used to come home so excited to tell me about the things he learned in school and the activities they were doing, but for these past two months, they have put their teacher's lesson plans on hold and are preparing for standardized testing. Now he comes home unamused and uninterested to talk. His grades are plummeting and he doesn't show as much of an interest in school anymore and it terrifies me."
This stuck with me.
To live in a generation where showing an interest in any type of art was enough for our professor to applaud us for actually put a pit in my stomach.
To hear about my professor's son have his imaginative soul stolen by a place that was supposed to encourage it... hurt me.
I thought back about all the questions I used to ask, all the bizarre ideas I used to have, the number of crazy stories I wanted to write about and all the books I used to read when I was a child and compared them to how I felt now.
Somewhere in the line from childhood to teenage years, I feel like a part of all of us was stolen too.
As much as we didn't want it to happen we started being framed into what the school curriculum wanted us to be. As soon as a number score became more profitable and easier to measure than our minds and individuality we started to follow a frame created by school systems that took time from the things we were most passionate about.
Getting a higher grade on a math test that you didn't care about became more important than searching for knowledge in realms that you were most eager to learn about.
There is something unsettlingly wrong with the school system and it needs to change.
School exists for the purpose of education. It is supposed to encourage and strengthen the minds of children and teenagers. It's supposed to make the world a place of unimaginable discoveries and adventure and curiosity. It's supposed to answer questions but more importantly, fuel them.
Recently though, it seems like the only thing it has been doing is stripping students of their individuality and creativity.
Students who may not have a passion in the field of math or English are forced to be molded into the student sitting directly next to them.
With each standardized test, conformity progresses and the creativity of these growing minds is put on hold and forced to remain stagnant.
The what if? And why? Questions become limited to the tiny one-millimeter bubble of an A-B-C-or-D answer sheet. Is that what we want our education to be confined to? Four letters to choose from and a number stamped on the top of a sheet.
A number that determines the path you will take and the success you will be having in life. A number that so inaccurately measures intelligence and completely disregards creativity and originality.
Standardized testing is taking over school systems and stripping adolescents of their creativity.
It breaks my heart to see students who are insanely intelligent and creative feel as if they are not capable or good enough because of the number a standardized test has labeled them with.
Schools have put way too much emphasis on tests that have absolutely no purpose other than to create an artificial learning environment.
Schools have begun to spend months prior prepping for these tests, carving away precious time for actual education, and making students lose interest in the lessons they are truly passionate about. Being passionate about something shouldn't make you a "survivor," it's what makes us human, but standardized testing and the growing emphasis on standardized testing robs students of this freedom every day.