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Rebecca Best

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The Secondary Education Frustration

Posted: 10/17/11 10:48 AM ET

Truth be told, I didn't really learn to love high school until after graduation. In fact, I'd say my level of satisfaction with it dissipated steadily over my four years, with a distinct drop off in the last two or three months of my senior year. Never falling into a real hatred, it was rather something I just wasn't fully satisfied with. Contrary to popular belief, the lethargy that seems to prevail in the last few months of high school does not merely come from a spiritless student body, or a desire for keg parties and residence rooms. Rather, it simply marks the point at which students reach the end of their secondary educational gestation period. Without invoking
the use of a flower metaphor, the apathy merely indicates the end of an era, and the desire to move out of one institutional body either into another or onto other pursuits. That being so, it is not necessarily indicative of a hatred for high school, but rather dissatisfaction and a desire to progress.

What got me through those last few months was the notion that was spoon fed to me that I would be incredibly well-prepared. I went to a rather prestigious and debatably pretentious Toronto private school whose faculty assured us that these essays, assignments, and exams would make us the most prepared student in our classes. The phrase "light years ahead" was used on many occasions. This, however, was pretty far from the truth.

My perception of myself as a straight-A student who could succeed in pretty much any class with minimal effort was quickly cut down. Getting a C on my first paper was a shock to my system that gave me a more accurate view of my standings at my new school. In hindsight, however, being ill-prepared was probably the best state for me to be in. Through high school I'd developed incredibly high standards for myself, and achieved them with ease. While the ease I had experienced disappeared immediately upon arrival at university, the standards remained. Truthfully, If high school had prepared me as well as I was led to believe it had, I wouldn't have
learned nearly as much. I would have remained on my high horse of high marks, and not experienced the true rewards of earning them. My freshman year offered me more in the way of learning than I ever could have possibly imagined. I finally faced a challenge that forced me to truly question my capabilities.

Sure, it would be remarkably easy now, from the comfort of my 11:30 a.m. class, to look back and see the challenges that high school held as trivial. But I do believe my appreciation, in hindsight, for high school has some concrete foundation. It is founded in the mindset I left high school with. I thought of myself as someone capable of a high level of success in the world of academia, and because of this (and despite, perhaps, its lack of validity) I embraced university whole-heartedly and without fear, and that is something that would come to heighten my appreciation of the opportunities university held for me.

This probably seems like an effort to pardon the apathy that I carried through my senior year. But that was not my primary intention. Rather, my point is more that that this feeling of dissatisfaction with high school shouldn't always manifest itself as apathy. From my experience, a desire for university life and the challenges that await you can give value to high school life rather than undermine it. Quickly after graduation, the dispassion of senior year will become obviously futile and hopefully will come to reveal its once concealed but fundamental value.

 

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