"Will this be on the test?"
We've all asked this question before -- asked ourselves, asked a teacher, asked a friend. Usually we don't really stop to think why we're asking this; we just try to figure it out and move on. What happens when the answer is no though? Skip over the information and move on to something else? I know that's what I do and, much more often than not, the things I actually did study are long forgotten a mere 24 hours after the test. But recently this little habit had me wondering why school has, for so many people, been reduced to nothing more than a giant test.
The other week my English teacher came in and asked the class, "Why does any of this matter?". After all, out of the many different things we're taught in school, the ability to interpret some silly Shakespeare play seems to rank up there with the least important things we'd need in life.
Subjects like math, science, and history could be seen as useful information for those wanting to become businessmen, engineers, and lawyers. So who needs literature besides those wanting to become teachers who'll pass on the information to the next generation of uninterested kids?
As we discussed it more and more, it seemed to become a matter of what we wanted out of life. As we followed the path of those who didn't want to learn, but wanted to get good grades and get into college, we realized that all that came next was to get a good job, make lots of money, and die. Although school has seemed to come to revolve around getting a diploma and earning money, there's so much more to it. It's about learning how to think in a more mature way each and every year.
It's not about learning when to use the quadratic equation or factoring by grouping, but learning about different ways to solve a problem. Maybe you won't be developing and testing your hypothesis on fruit-fly behavior, but someday down the road you'll be faced with a question that you'll have to figure out using facts. And hey, I'm pretty sure you'll never in your adult life be forced to give your interpretation on Hamlet's "To be or not to be" soliloquy, but it'll look incredibly snazzy at a dinner party some day (and you might find yourself gaining a new perspective on life).
When it comes down to it, I probably won't remember that obscure day in English class when we learned about the "recurring agrarian theme in Macbeth", but I'll always remember the lesson that teacher taught me about wanting to learn, challenging my ways of thinking, and finding value in every situation that life will present me with.