The threshold of measuring intelligence is seen by many to be nothing more than a definitive line between “dumb” and “smart.” Generally speaking, those capable of excelling in a typical school setting are deemed the intelligent members of society, but is it really all that simple? Who’s to say that these people are not just excelling due to a higher amount of interest and motivation when it comes to common subjects taught in school? Many of the world’s greatest and most notable minds in recent history (e.g. Albert Einstein) were known to have a significant indifference to their school environment. If today’s education system were to consider the immeasurable distinction between each and every individual’s cognitive process and the very way in which their mind works, it would be reasonable to believe that we could further accommodate a person’s unique needs and find the most effective way for people to reach success in life.
Throughout my years in school it was evident that regardless of my capabilities, certain self-restricting qualities had gotten in the way of my educational progress. Year after year, class after class, my marks were impressively high yet, all teachers would write comments in my report card regarding my lack in class participation and attentiveness. Over the long and strenuous years, I would fidget and frolic while the teacher lectured extensively, just so other students could wrap their mind around the class material. I was not entirely incapable of paying attention, nor was I seeking personal attention. I behaved this way because I was completely and utterly bored. While the curriculum was indeed new to me, the method in which it was being taught (lectures, group activities, etc.) was entirely incompatible with my preferred style of learning. As students struggled to follow every word and idea stated by the teacher, I was learning an entire class’s worth of material by reading the textbook and applying my new knowledge through practice exercises. Why was I able to do this? I’ll reiterate my belief that most of you would attribute this ability to my level of “intelligence”; but may I remind you that the very word “intelligence” is not one that I personally consider concrete or definitive. While I was able to academically flourish through learning and reading class textbooks, most other students listened to the teacher’s lectures and verbal projection of the class curriculum. This is not because they were too “dumb” or simple-minded to learn by reading the textbook; it’s because being taught with the aid of a seasoned individual (teacher/tutor) is the way in which they learn and retain knowledge the most effectively.
However, the style and format in which I am comfortable learning proved to be very challenging, especially in the later years of high school. I was able to pass through elementary school quite easily because my teachers concerned themselves more with the completion and effort of student assignments, rather than the methods and manner in which they were completed. By the intermediate years of high-school, I had become the subject of bias and student profiling due to my preferred method of learning. While the content and quality of my work was far beyond adequate, my marks continued to suffer due to the weight factor of areas such as “class participation” and “process work.” High-school has always been oriented around a “note-taking system” where the student listens to everything the teacher says and then records information they deem “note-worthy”. In other words, high-school just wasn’t my thing! The frustrating result of my inability to conform to high-school’s unaccommodating learning guidelines, was severe anxiety and hopelessness towards the future.
While I managed to make my mother proud and eventually graduate high-school with a respectable average, many that have faced similar learning challenges to mine are not so lucky. And even though I have graduated, I have made the decision to discontinue my education mostly due to the unforgiving realm of talkative teachers and pointless note-taking I have already experienced far too much of. In grade 12 I took a supplementary math course to improve my average which was in a class-type known as “Alternative Education.” This proved to be a more-than comfortable transition for me and ended up landing me a +95% course final. Unfortunately, this is a class dedicated mostly to students who are unfit or unworthy of being in the conventional stream of classes. It was in this course where it hit me: instead of dedicating such a beneficial program solely to students who lack motivation and competency, open the program to students of all levels and backgrounds. The public school system has been and continues to be an atmosphere that favors the conventional learner over those with equal potential for success but different means to reaching it. It’s disgraceful to think that in a region of the world known for its culturally diverse and accepting nature, that young people continue to suffer due to their unique way of thinking. It is crucial that schools begin to implement a wide range of teaching styles and diversity because if they do not, students will continue to suffer as I have, in silence, while others begin to walk their designated path in life.