Every Tuesday at 6:30 PM I get into my car and drive to Gaymen Elementary. I arrive only to discover eager students who would like nothing better than to spend time learning new songs and vocal techniques. I spend countless hours teaching them how to express themselves through music and how to play the part of a pirate or a noble lady. However, lessons pass quickly and they understand that we won’t be together much longer. They use their time wisely despite their tender age, and I only wish I could be with them more often. Still they leave happy, confident, relaxed, and better prepared to deal with the struggles they may encountered in the other areas of their lives.
Time is something people never seem to have enough of. It’s fast, short, and unrelenting. People pray that it will be good to them, but it doesn’t stop for anyone. If I had more time in a day, I could fool around with my sisters, play the guitar, or talk with my friends but as I grow older, I realize that what would really fill my extra hours would be learning. I love to learn and take pride in proving over and over again that the adage “curiosity killed the cat” is completely untrue. However, I do fear that our country follows the old saying religiously. If the subject is not part of the academic standards, or “on the test” so to speak, it is being cut. In many schools, the budget is forcing districts to reduce their list of electives. They are doing away with the art, music, and cooking courses that are vital to so many students. In my school, it is not the budget but the pressure to partake in the most rigorous academic track that precludes many of my classmates from participating in electives. What administrators fail to understand is that these classes give students a chance to learn things they may never have had the opportunity to discover as adults. These subjects may not be on the state assessments but they teach students about themselves. There is a sense of achievement and confidence that comes from discovering a new talent or interest. I believe that a school that considers the whole student and not just the scholar is better preparing its charges for life. Confident, well-rounded people give back to their communities and positively impact the generation waiting in the wings. Professionals who can cast that profession aside and immerse themselves in a hobby that they are passionate about are better able to handle the stress that goes hand in hand with life. Ask an adult when and where they discovered their passions, most would say as a child in school. I am fortunate to be a part of a district that has allowed me to be a scholar while still discovering my passions. My fear as I graduate is that time will not permit this for the students ready to take my place. They will learn to be scholars and to speak several languages but that is all that time will permit. This will not allow them discover their talents and passions nor will it enable them to pursue the sides of themselves that are unique and special. If we remove this piece of ourselves, we remove it from our society. We will have stress and no outlet, an educated people but no sense of partnership, community or responsibility to the future.