This I Believe

Olivia - Westport, Connecticut
Entered on June 13, 2006
Age Group: Under 18

This I believe…. 

I believe a Staples education is one where looking as if you are learning rather than actually doing so is emphasized. As a student at Staples High School, I have experienced a luxury education; I have handpicked my classes, I am taught by well educated teachers and go to school in a multimillion dollar (building). Nonetheless, certain events have happened that have made me believe that in Staples being perceived as if you are learning is more important than actually doing so.

Each year 10th graders take a standardized test known as the CAPT test. The test consists of small packets on basic math, science, reading comprehension and writing and four bubble sheets. If Staples High School, or any other school does not have a certain percentage of students pass CAPT, they do not meet state standard and cannot receive state funding. By the end of winter every 10th grader has been taught the “right way” to answer CAPT questions. I was not taught, or asked to actually think about what was being asked, why and how; I was given the formulaic the way to write and answer CAPT questions, so as to pass. I needed to pass so that Staples could continue to receive federal funding; this is doing school rather than learning pushed by the use of tests to measure success and achievement instead of measuring personal growth and development. The CAPT test is not a test of how well educated students are, it is a test of who looks on paper the most educated.

I believe that a Staples education emphasizes looking like you are learning, rather than actually learning based on observing the behavior of my fellow students. A month or two ago, two boys, both going to Ivy League schools came into one of my classes and gave a presentation on how to “do school”. Otherwise known as working the system, the boys went out of their way to look good not for themselves but for their teachers; they charmed their teachers (or they think they did) so that they were able to do the “bare minimum” and achieve the maximum. The boys conduct as Thomas Jefferson described it as, is an example of aristocracy determining our leaders rather than merit. The boys’ each emphasized that their status among teachers and students was good; they were reasonably well-liked and both played on varsity teams. Each was intelligent enough to figure out that if they made it look like they did work, people would start to believe they actually were. They cheated on tests, argued grades and spent hours working up a good relationship with administrators.  As they preached the theory of doing the bare minimum, I realized that their intelligence had gone to waste.

I believe Staples High School, is not breeding intellectually curious students but rather breeding students who are consumed with a need to be perceived as such.

Staples High School is a fantastic school, and affords many students with possibilities that are hard to attain for most; but from what I have heard and seen of other students, that privilege is being abused.