Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Step Onto My Soapbox

Today, I was walking to school, dragging my feet as usual, when I suddenly looked up. The wind had started, and red orange leaves were rustling across the street in waves, spiraling, their colors glistening like scales. Time, cars, people, everything stopped as the road became covered in fall foliage. I stopped, my view obstructed by my own wind-whipped hair and the orange symphony around me, and I felt joyful. I felt completely, inexplicably happy, and I couldn't stop a giant and genuine grin from covering my face.

And this was miraculous. Because lately, I haven't felt anything. This semester has been challenging, not just because classes are hard, work is constant, and it feels impossible to be caught up, but more because I couldn't muster even an ounce of motivation for anything. I just didn't care. And the sad part is, I still don't. But at least it isn't affecting every part of my life. Before, there was no light and no end of the tunnel. There was no goal I was working toward, and life was just a long slog of endless work and apathy until I died, most likely at a young age from fluorescent light poisoning, or something equally mundane.

Luckily, this first started to change when I went to see Waiting for Superman. Aside: everyone, SEE THIS FILM NOW. Carrying on. While seeing this, I finally felt some stirring of emotion. I remembered what I was working for. I wasn't working because I had no other options, and it wasn't just because there's nothing else you can do with an English major. I'm becoming a teacher because I care about the youth of America. I care about the education system. I'm becoming a teacher because I honestly want to help students realize that they have potential, that knowledge is important, and that they are worth something. I want my students to see that laziness is not an option, and that all they need to succeed is an ounce of imagination in this creatively bankrupt world. I want them to trust themselves, to learn self-reliance, and most importantly, to have confidence. I want them to be better. I want them to do things my generation can only dream of, and to do them with grace and assurance. I am becoming a teacher because I want them to know that someone cares about their future. I won't be nice. I won't be an easy grade. But I will push my class to notice the world around them, and to want to change it.

Sorry. That got off track and rather preachy. But this is important to me. Right now I am incredibly disillusioned with the education system, not just the public school system (even though that is a main one), but also with any and all institutions. Ray Bradbury said "I don't believe in colleges and universities. I believe in libraries." Right now, I agree with him wholeheartedly.

At this point, I have one more real semester of school left. In looking back over my college career, I have had good experiences, classes I am thankful for, but I also sometimes want to cry. I feel like I was a more intelligent person when I graduated high school. Sure, my knowledge is much more specialized and in-depth on certain topics, but overall I feel like I've lost something. And even in those specialized fields, I don't care anymore. I don't know if this is my three and a half years of non-stop schooling talking, but I am tired of school. It holds no excitement, no passion, and absolutely no interest for me. If I had a choice at this point, I would drop out for a while, but with one semester left, that seems like a poor decision. But classes? Hour long increments where I feel my life force being sucked out. That's right, in this scenario, school= DEMENTORS.

I honestly feel like I would be a happier, more beneficial, and more educated person if I added up those hours and hours I am spending writing worthless papers and listening to the opinions of worthless classmates and just spent them in a library, devouring books and journals as I saw fit. Maybe after a few months of that, I would feel ready to join the ranks of academia again. After months of that, I could return to writing papers, because this time they would be fueled by passion and interest rather than deadlines and lifeless, forced theses.

For now, there's nothing left to do but stick it out for five more months. After that, I'll be fine. I'll spend four months recharging, and I'll face a classroom with vigor and enthusiasm. And I WILL endure these next few months. You know why? Because I am a good teacher. I need to be out there, practicing my craft. I need to have a purpose in life, something that the endless monotony of college has stolen from me. And I will hang on, because I can't stall. I'm going to move forward. I am going to embrace my life, and the meaning it has.

All these thoughts came at once, while I watched the leaves, then continued towards class. But now it was with renewed vigor. I focused on how awesome the Scott Pilgrim soundtrack is, especially through headphones set at full volume. I remembered that my jacket always makes me feel a little like Bob Dylan, and adds a sixties-rebellious swagger to my step. I felt the wind toss my hair, and was alive. If I can keep these things in mind, I will be OK. I can make it.

For those of you who suffered through that long, slightly ridiculous blog post, here's a treat for you, in the form of a quote.

"Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the universe."
- Albert Einstein


John C. said...

Cat...way to hold on to hope! I remember the last semester of college and how tough it was. Thank goodness for leaf storms of tender mercies!

Jason said...

Before I lay my weary head down to slumber, I feel the urge to respond.

Dear Cat,
I find your desire to improve the education one of the most noble pursuits. Both of my parents are teachers and I have spent my entire life watching them be beaten by a broken system. Somehow they struggle onward despite a drastic lack of investment that this state seems to think is okay. It's B.S. and I've spent many moments surpressing a boiling anger at how utterly unappreciated my parents are treated. Somehow they've dedicated themselves to the students and that has pulled them through.

I hope such a desire can also carry you. Also, *puts arm into an upright square angle with a fist into the air* major props mi amiga. That is all.

P.S. Isn't fall freakin awesome? I could lose myself for hours in a pile of leaves or watching them slowly fall off the tree in my backyard against a grey sky. My soul aches at the beauty of Autumn.

Mary said...

Darling Cat: as someone who has taken off some time from school, let me comfort you with this: your distate will fade quickly. But you're doing this smarter than I did, because you'll lose your distate and still be done! Which means you can focus on your teaching and supplement it with thoughtful reading, buoyed by the skills you got from college. Got team. You'll be fine.

David's Holla Atchya! Blog said...

#1- I really want to see Waiting for Superman. Where did you see it?
#2- I disagree with a lot of your comments, but I respect you for them.
#3- I agree that you will be a phenomenal teacher.
#4- You are awesome. This was a great, honest post.
#5- I like college for the cool people I meet there- like you.