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Put Your Pencils Down

Submitted By: Iris Yuan

“Mom, let’s go buy some colored pencils, school is starting!” Throwback to the first days of elementary school, where all the kindergarteners were excited to be finally taking their first steps in venturing into the “adult world.” Or so we thought. Fast forward ten years….I have two papers due, need to read 60 pages of my lit book, make a project board for chemistry, and have to study for a math test tomorrow. What happened to that energetic child who looked forward to school everyday?

The situation is clear: school is no longer a place to explore different interests but instead has become a four-year audition for college.  And what is college? An audition for life. And that should not be the case.

According to the KCL, most people forget 40% of what they learn in 20 minutes and 90% in one month. Nowadays, all teachers do in class is lecture, and lecture, and then lecture some more. Students are expected to diligently take notes, go home and review, and come back prepared for more lectures or possibly a pop quiz or two. Nowhere in this process is there any involvement for the student, any hands-on experiences with real life situations. If this is how we educate our children, it’s no wonder most of the information shared is forgotten.

When has it become acceptable that now high school is about cramming in as many AP classes as possible, regardless of whether or not the subject is interesting, in order to please colleges? Piling on extracurriculars just to put on resumes? This should be a time for stepping past personal limits and trying something new, maybe learning a new language or traveling, not studying math over summer to push on even further the next year. Take the time to do something you are passionate about. Learn to play the guitar. Life is about involvement. Getting up on your feet and dancing in the rain. Doing something to make a lasting impact on other people’s lives. Not sitting at a desk all day memorizing formulas.

The wise words of Benjamin Franklin say it all: “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”

About Timothy Lee

Timothy Lee is a senior at Monta Vista High School. He moved back to the States in 2012 after living in Beijing, China for two years, and currently lives in Cupertino, California. This cross-culture experience has enabled him to encounter a vast variety of environments in which part of his writings are based on. He is also currently an officer in HEARTS, a nonprofit organization, and a VP at Silicon Valley DECA. He also has a passion in web design, computer science, badminton, and writing.

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