This is a teen-written article from our friends at Teenink.com.
Weapons of Mass Instruction have been discovered in schools nationwide. Standardization of education is a plague that comes in many forms but none as detrimental as the AP class.
AP, or Advanced Placement, enrollment supposedly signifies that a student is intelligent enough to take college-level courses in high school. In reality, it’s just Academic Pollution. You do not learn the material to become enlightened. You learn to pass a test. You learn so that you can impress admissions officers with your weighted GPA. You learn so that when you enter college as a sophomore, you can fast-track your way to a high-paying job and the “real world.” But signing away your childhood to the College Board is Absolutely Preposterous.
Dealing with those gifted children who actually want to be educated often presents a challenge to administrators. Easily bored in classes that don’t stimulate them, these students release their pent-up frustration at their intellectual stagnation in the form of classroom disruptions. The solution? Lump all the Annoying Prodigies into one class and teach them the higher-level material they crave.
However, this isolation only creates further problems: Students are stratified into two spheres of existence. Like oil and water, these groups rarely mix or interact, resulting in an unmotivated class of slackers and a bunch of Antisocial Puppets, neither group knowing how to deal with the other. School should develop students socially as well as academically, preparing them to coexist with people from all walks in this rapidly changing world.
The fundamental rule in AP classes is Avoid People. Who has time for distracting social engagements? The massive homework load, looming deadlines and supplementary study groups slowly suck up your week.
Life doesn’t exist outside of meaningless busywork. Most often this consists of Absentminded Prattle, or the art of explaining concepts that you don’t understand, care about, or ever really need. The essay is no longer a forum for sharing opinions or arguing a case; it’s a formulaic regurgitation of exactly what the teacher/grader/counselor wants to hear. Anything Pedantic scores very well. Dick and Jane don’t play ball; Dick and Jane violently propel spherical objects at each other’s cranial cavities.
Weekends are for Application Padding: community service, multiple musical instruments, perhaps a sport or two, and other such “educational experiences.” Only Approved Pastimes are permissible. If a college wouldn’t care, neither should you.
Aggressive Parents enhance the whole experience with constant poking and pushing: “Do more, do it better, and do it faster than everyone around you. Don’t slack off. Don’t you want get into college?” Flipping burgers at McDonald’s is a favorite all-purpose threat, as if no respectable place of employment accepts applications from students who can’t name all the Chinese dynasties or integrate complex polynomials. Applying Pressure is a parental specialty, although the constant in-class reminders about judgment day (a.k.a. the AP test) don’t do anything to alleviate the stress.
Abandon Principles and accept it; shape yourself to fit the College Board cookie-cutter. AP is not learning but memorizing and rewording when prompted. AP is Always Procrastinating, staying up until one to finish that paper due tomorrow or the last of those French conjugations. AP is an obstacle course with never-ending hoops to jump through. AP is being taught exactly what to think and how to think it. At the end of the year, they evaluate on how well you regurgitate.
And so we sit in our little box, swallowing unquestioningly and vomiting on command, waiting for the sweet freedom that college brings. But can we survive the blinding sun of individual opinion? Or are we Altered Permanently to obey?
- Sophie W., San Diego, CA
This piece has also been published in Teen Ink's monthly print magazine.