What Happened to the Symphony

Jane - Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan
Entered on March 19, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

So there, in my wicker chair, I looked with utter dread at my AP US history notes which I had so tediously written for the past 3 or so weeks. The hand on my pink clock turned slowly to show a crisp 11:45. My eyes started to droop down and I realized that any effort to stay awake to study would be in vain. I tried to fathom what could possibly put me in such a state of fatigue. I had never truly excelled in history, and I blame this on my learning process. If I can understand it, I can learn it, and there is not much to understand about, “on September 16, 1862, the battle of Antietam produced an estimated 23,100 casualties.” I soon became frustrated with the fact that most of my knowledge crammed in my short term memory that night would probably be erased after the test.

I realized that what I had been working so hard for was a letter depicting a false image of my knowledge of history on a piece of paper in the hands of a college admissions representative. Sure, I could remember facts after writing endless pages of notes for weeks, but somehow I couldn’t make it stick. So every night would I go on monotonously writing my notes and after the test I retained about 50-60% of the information. What was it all for?

This simple letter, a 2D symbol on a cream colored piece of paper, was the manifest of my life. Each day I worked incessantly on my school work and now I look back and realize, with everything in perspective to what is really important in life, it was not worth it. My memories of life in 10th grade: I went to Homecoming, I participated on sports and in clubs, and I studied. Was I really living? When I look back on December 5th 2006 I will not recall the trivial subjects I so painstakingly studied, but rather the look on my sister’s face, disappointed that her big sister could not attend her choir concert.

Why did I make this decision, why were academics, one aspect of human life, so important to me? Why couldn’t I see anything besides my grades? I began to look back to the root of the problem. I wanted to earn good grades so I could get into a good college. But my thought process ended there. Why did I want to get into a “good” college? Perhaps society had some effect on the pressure I heaped upon myself.

In society, good grades are automatically equated with success, and an overall good person, while bad grades are equated with laziness and an overall bad person. These are complete fallacies. Grades themselves are often fallacies. How can a letter possibly sum up the knowledge in one class, taking into account such factors as learning processes? Do students even realize that school is about learning? How did society take the passion out of education? How did a symphony become a jingle- rushing towards the finish? When did grades become the Rosetta stone to translate personal qualities?