Reflection on High School

Sometimes, I do wonder. What if I hadn’t left high school early? Was I really enjoying my time there? Was a learning?

The changes I made to Walnut High continue to resonate. I never realized how much of an impact I would make. High school was a smaller environment, where you could directly relate with the people. And it seemed possible to be at the top of of the school, be the #1 student.

I never had a chance. Part of the reason I left, I now feel, is that my grades and skills aren’t quite good enough. In an environment where it feels like I should be the best, I definitely was not. I fell somewhere in the middle of the class in terms of grades and standardized test scores. It seems that many students felt I was very smart. That makes me feel awesome, but it’s not true. I often kept my scores a secret. I justified this by considering such measures of achievement to be artificial and inaccurate. And they are. But the unfortunate truth is that, had I done better, I probably would have boasted of my scores.

On the other hand, I’ve always got to keep in mind the people that are seemingly below me. I can remember so many very humbling instances. People at the bottom, truly do have a brilliance. Every person can bring something profound to the table. So I fully disagree with any separation between classes of students – AP vs. honors vs. regular. Students in lower level course are geniuses. Just not in the way that academics expect. I sympathize most with these students. It’s where I belong. I’m somehow incredibly fortunate to have gotten to where I am.

My impact includes the solar car project, yes. And I was active in FBLA, President of Computer Club, Chess Club. But I was far from the best leader. There is just so much that I should have done better, that I’m depressed just thinking about it. Additionally, there are the people. I left high school chiefly because I didn’t think I meshed with the people. It seemed that there was not one person who was my type. Yet, those people are there. Good friends that I worked with in the solar car team. Why didn’t I meet any such people in class? The kind of people I like, the kind that I work well with, are not the ones in the highest level IB courses, I now realize. They’re in regular classes – but they’re not the typical student. They took the initiative to join the solar car project, and that really shows something. There is truly so much more to school than the classes. The classes. I regret having to waste so much effort on them.

Yet, I can relate with the teachers. I remember them fondly. But not for what we did in class, although that was reflective of their character. It was what we did outside of class. But I have to agree that classes are a necessary evil. I’ll have to continue thinking about whether classes are actually conducive to learning.

4 Responses to “Reflection on High School”

  1. Michael says:

    Therein lies another fundamental truth. It’s not the knowledge you obtain or the ability to regurgitate and perform in the classroom; it’s what you do with it and the “people” relationships you establish that propel you to sucess.

    The classroom is just one standardized training ground. We can accept it, reject it, or work with it. Taking advantage of the opportunities within the structure while taking initiative to explore the outside “real world” is key to opening your own windows.

    Classroom geniuses without eyes on the “world” and entrepreneurship in their blood, and a “quest” in their hearts are too prone to quietly build constricting cacoons of safely – often times surprisingly fragile.

    Whereas, a real world “genius” who is observant, principled, and pursues their passion will indeed make an impact. Opportunities are abundant, the will power to pursue them are scarce.

    It very enlightening to read biographies of “great” people. Not only for their life-story but to examine what they did within their life-circumstances and why.

  2. Luke says:

    Hehe, class is pointless.

    High school consisted of me attempting to do my work as quickly as possible so I could go to the band room. Ah, band. Now that was a way of life.

    Then in college I spent my time doing what was necessary for school…not particularly enjoying it, but dealing with it. The upside of my day was working in the IT department and getting to do things for the newspaper. I lived for that paper, and really it had more to do with shaping my abilities than classes ever did.

    Class has only one upside and that’s the fact that they teach in such a way that you get the information or something close to it jammed into your head…unfortunately, the chances of you really remembering it is slim. Oh, well.

    Everyone wants a system of measurement and that diploma and schooling tends to work most of the time. They always told us at Rose that the A students ended up being profs and the C students came back and donated nice chunks of change.

  3. Katy says:

    Wow, Michael’s comment is SO profound. You have to read it a few times, a lot of good stuff there.

    So you think your grades and scores, Elliot, are average, and you are merely “fortunate” in your successes?

    My cousin who went to MIT said a similar thing to me. He said there are so many smart people at MIT, he realized he wasn’t so smart, he was”just lucky” to have gotten in (actually, he said the only reason he got in was because God wanted him there.)

    Yes, among all the smart people, you, and such as my cousin, are average and fortunate. But you first have to get up to that plane.

    School is not meant to measure intelligence. That’s asking a ruler to measure temperature (well…maybe it could, by how much the wood of the ruler expands…).

    As William Butler Yeats says, “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.

    School trains you in discipline, gives broad knowledge, and ignites your passion. School helps you exercise the muscles of the brains. I think the more you study in school, the greater the passion to learn beyond the classroom.

  4. Brad Hddin says:

    I really enjoying my time here to read this concept. I am also thinking with you about whether classes are actually conducive to learning. Thanks Buddy!

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