When your options feel limited, you feel limited. You begin to question yourself and your judgments. Your life becomes a drag, and you blame it on your teachers. Then, as adults around you question your failures in school, you begin to blame it on yourself, whether or not your struggles are justified.
The academic culture at East Chapel Hill High School is toxic. We cannot escape it, so we have two options: resist the urge to conform, or submit and accept your fate. This leads to the primary consideration:why is our modern educational system the way it is?
A multi-degree graduate from Stan- ford and a vocal critic of higher education, technologist Peter Thiel has written on the topic extensively.
“Our educational system both drives and reflects our obsession with competition,” said Thiel, in his book “Zero to One.”
This competitive ideology that pervades our culture, and more specifically schools like East, distorts our thinking, destroys our dreams, and ruthlessly replaces passion with drone-like obligation.
A small group of students do thrive academically, but at what cost to their personal fulfillment? The rest are relegated to conformity, whether they want it or not. In this case, conformity means a normal college education, a normal job, an average life – and there is nothing wrong with this – but often people are forced into this regardless of what they truly desire.
To identify exactly why East’s culture has transformed into this, we must look at the core values of ECHHS, the district and more broadly, modern education.
There are three major reasons for this malignancy present in academic culture. The first is the ultimate control that teachers and administrators have over both the present and future lives of students.
The second is the various focuses and methods employed to teach, more specifically, how they are often not conducive to many learning types, and often exclude and serve to disadvantage a large number of students.
Whether through standardized testing, high academic rigor and expectation, and the need to be a “well-rounded” student, very few thrive – and thriving academically does not mean you are person- ally fulfilled.
Finally, a lack of choices and alternative options for students. At East and other competitive schools, the primary function for a school is to bolster and legitimize their own image, and to manufacture college students, and ultimately a workforce. East’s administration has immense pressure both to the district, and to parents, to retain our rating as the No. 1 NC Public School, and maintain our primacy in APs and test scores.
Students are seen as inferior for pursuing admission at colleges like ECU, Appalachian State, or UNC-W (all which provide great educations), but appear below the “dignity” of someone from East.
College is made to be the only option for a student, anything else is considered inferior, and while this opinion is not publicly voiced, it is implied.
However, ask yourself: does the institution you are legally compelled to attend every day truly serve you and your core values?
Your interests, your future, and your well being depend on it.
By Colin Bethea, Social Media Editor