Competitive Education a New Sport?

Only two months into junior year, I have begun to feel the onsets of the pressure of high school slowly seeping in, grasping for my attention until I have devoted myself entirely. Sleep is defined by the hours of homework assigned, success by the number on the tops of my tests. School has taken its toll, slowly enclosing around my dreams and plans for the future until preparing for the following day's assessments is the only thing that drives me forward every day.

Education is important, so most people say, and I couldn't agree more. However, the evolution of education has changed it greatly from its origins. I have heard many parents think along a similar line of thought as this: elementary school is preparation for middle school; middle school is preparation for high school; high school the ultimate determination for college. College seems to be the end all be all, the final door that reveals a happy, successful and financially sound life.

Education has transformed into a competition, much of which I have personally experienced. I have found myself peer editing another student's paper and thinking about how my own essay rivals theirs. While I converse in class discussions I am at the same time, wondering how my participation grade will compare to the person's next to me. At times, while I am completing community service, I am questioning if I have enough hours to stand out among fellow college applicants. While this may be a bit of an exaggeration, it would not be an overstatement to say that many people, including myself, are driven by grades or college. Certain activities and undertakings are sought out because they would make good "resume builders."

Many times while standing under a steamy shower, I like many others like to contemplate life's meaning. Although I mean this rather sarcastically, I have realized that grades and college are not the deciding factor. There is more to life and the value of education is much deeper than simply a grade.

To help put things into perspective consider an individual's occupation in the universe as a whole. The universe is infinitely large and among the infinite galaxies the Milky Way is all but one. Among the infinite stars of the Milky Way, Earth is all but one. Among the myriad of people who have lived and died, we as individuals are all but one. This makes everyday tasks seem nearly meaningless in a grander scope.

We do however, possess one thing that can begin to parallel the vastness of our universe: the brain. With more synapses in an average human brain than stars in the Milky Way, the brain has immeasurable potential. Everything surrounding us offers an endless supply of mysteries that are yet to be unlocked, and the brain offers the possibility of knowing. Understanding leads to knowledge and knowledge leads to clarity; clarity leads to awareness of the ongoing of one's life. Not having knowledge about something makes the object of discussion completely meaningless. The topic becomes a void where it may as well not exist at all. When we take all knowledge away, we become senseless flesh existing within a dark abyss; without knowledge we are unaware of anything and there is no depth or value beyond physical presence. Only until we gain knowledge are we able to acknowledge and appreciate, only until then are we able to find purpose. Even then, the subject at hand can only be specified by personal interactions and the meaning of the same matter varies from one to another.

Our whole life is an experience and the possible experiences are as infinite as the universe. The path we choose can never be reversed so we should make the most of the single opportunity we are given. Knowledge colors our lives and makes it both a vividly emotional and logically illuminated journey.

Knowledge itself is abstract in nature, difficult to delineate but education offers knowledge in a systematic and methodical way. Education comes into play as an effective and organized method of gaining understanding and remains not as a competition among peers for grades but as an opportunity for one to learn.

So next time you step into class or open up your notebook to do homework, do not see it as a necessary chore but as a chance to broaden the expanse of your understanding and awareness. Look at science class as a mode of grasping how the physical and natural world functions. Look at history class as a manner of discerning a society and individual's actions. Look at English class as a study of how one brain shares its knowledge with another.

I am, too, very guilty of seeing school as a competition that I must come out on top in, but after many steamy showers spent contemplating life's issues, I have decided to try and stress less about my grades and simply enjoy the experience as a whole.