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Education as a System

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Sienna Villalobos
Students expressing their frustrations and joys over grades.

We dedicate years upon years of our lives to education. Education itself is a broad term, as it’s popularly defined as “the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university.” However, there is another definition to education that would serve to be much more beneficial to students and the overall population, and that is “an enlightening experience.”

If we were to merge the two definitions of education together, the system of our education may change. The students who go to school are fed with the same spoon, and it doesn’t matter if a student wants to learn otherwise. Of course, it’s wrong to deny that there aren’t resources out there, but for students who struggle, these resources seem more as a waste of time than anything else, because there are other resources—some more damaging—that are presented better than however the school presents its opportunities.

Education, as a system, is full of flaws, as any system is. Education as an experience—an enlightening one, at that—cannot have as many flaws as a system, as experience is a person’s own belonging. So if we were to foster a system that puts more value on what individuals value, the progression of our society would only reach states of prosperity. 

And that’s why here, at Montclair, there’s a sense of fear for the future. 

Sarai Gonzalez, a junior, admits that school has deteriorated her mindset of what the future should be, explaining her ideal future would’ve been “somewhat magical.”

“It was pretty stereotypical, too. I pictured a big house with a beautiful garden. I’d be an archeologist making a load of money with my spouse, and I’d have two children who would be amazing.” And for the majority of a person’s life, they lose passion if it seems out-of-reach for economic reasons. Whether the career they go for does not provide sustainability, or the schooling they need for it is too out of budget.”

“[Archeology], that’s my dream in life. The only thing I’ve ever wanted to be is an archaeologist. I feel like school, especially during quarantine, messed me up in so many ways that it feels almost impossible to get into a good college that will make that dream come true.”

But, is college worth the money? If you look at it pragmatically, then of course it is. It can give you a degree, which can boost your pay later on in life. But we place so much value on the name, the brand, and the type of degree a person gets. For a degree in science or mathematics, then we place more worth over it than something in the arts, even though both benefit the people in various ways. 

Yahir Perez, a graduate in 2023, explains that “college feels better if you ignore the fact you pay thousands of dollars, among other things.” So, does it ever get better?

All of that depends. Sometimes, it’s up to someone’s own interpretation of life. Sometimes, it’s up to life itself. Happiness, just as often as dreams, is limited. It’s confined to a smile, a state of mind, materialistic things. Happiness, as some people believe, cannot be everything, everywhere all at once.

If you’re surrounded by those with the same goals, it creates confidence, a sense of belonging, and a hope for the future. Everyone has some sort of dream that they want to achieve, and whatever those dreams are, they are influenced by what’s around us. As a kid, it’s easy to have larger-than-life dreams of being a firefighter, a vet, the President. It’s only as we go through a system that does not value what we value that the world is met with the broken hearts and minds of countless people who were once dreamers. And yes, the system cannot be entirely to blame, but when it’s been in motion for centuries, is it not right to call it into question? Those who struggle to move to the top watch as the top continues to fly past glass ceilings, losing the battle of trying to catch up. It’s easy to tell someone that all they have to do is work hard for a goal they may have never wanted to achieve in the name of societal success, but it’s hard to live for a passion overall. The system that we’re placed in has deep roots in capitalism, where it seeks out to breed the majority for cheap labor in order for consumers to buy, which keeps the economy in motion. All of this sacrifices the beauties some dream of living for.

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About the Contributor
Hi everyone! My name is Sienna Villalobos, and I'm proudly serving as one of the editors for the Clarion! I was in journalism my freshman year, but had to take a gap year for color guard. In my free time, I love reading, writing, and talking to friends. On campus, my pride and joy is Key Club. In journalism, I hope to have fun, write fun stories, and meet lots of new people! Someday, I'll be the #1 writer in the world (trust).

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