In Praise of Prosaic Pabulum

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By Scott L.

 “I got a 2120 on my SAT,” my classmate bragged to the class. “I don’t give a shiitake mushroom,” I replied.

I don’t believe in numbers, but college admissions do, and that’s the problem.

Many high school students take the SAT or ACT during their junior or senior years, and overload themselves with AP’s, Ib Levels, and Honors classes throughout their high school career. Most do not take classes for the sake of education and knowledge, but rather for the sake of competition. In an education system monopolized by the company College Board, school has become a race to take the most AP classes, a contest to earn the highest test scores.

 I’m in the top 1% of my class, but in retrospect, I cannot say that I am more intelligent, nor can I say my critical thinking more astute. Rather it is because I am the most obedient – I memorized facts, learned formulas, trudged through novels, all for the sake of achieving a high score on the upcoming tests. I was a slave to the tyrannical system known as “education.” I was the one who conformed and the one who lived up to College Board’s standardized way of thinking.

 When you think of it, how can learning and thinking even be standardized? How does one differentiate between critical thinking, and non-critical thinking? It’s not possible. All thinking, to some extent, requires one to be critical.

 When a student does not think a certain way, he or she is labeled as dumb or stupid. But are they really dumb or stupid? Should they be penalized for not fitting into the rigid mold of standardized education? The SAT does not test how smart you are; instead, it tests how much time you have spent studying arbitrary vocabulary, formulas, and thinking patterns. What’s more is that these tests favor the privileged. Those with access to SAT prep books, SAT classes, or private tutors are usually those that score the highest. Not only are these types of tests biased, they are limiting in the scope of material being tested.

 In this way, we are giving up individuality for uniformity, ambition for apathy, creativity for stagnation.

 Having said this, I am not encouraging delinquency – I believe that one should always strive to do their best in school. Moreover, this article is not one of hypocrisy; rather, it is purposely post-modern in its rejection of objectivity, truth, and misled pedagogy.

 One cannot achieve success when one has one eye on the road, and one eye on the goal. Likewise, one cannot drink of knowledge when one is in praise of prosaic pabulum.


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