The future is a scary place. Planning what you want to do, for the rest of your life, is often unfathomable. Why then are these decisions to be made after high school and after college. Why are the options to an individual closed or open solely due to things such as standardized test scores, overall grades, GPA, extracurricular, and community involvement?
Since 8th grade, I’ve known that I wanted a career in psychology. In my AIG English class, we did independent research projects studying a topic of our choosing. For my topic I chose Sigmund Freud and dreams. In my head I imagined myself becoming the next greatest psychologist, helping people interpret their dreams and understand themselves more deeply. This path was made more concrete when I was in high school and met one of the greatest school counselors my senior year. While planning my classes with her, I was debating on taking classes at the local community college for cosmetology, or pursuing the new AP Government class. She encouraged me to take the AP class, because it would provide me with a better foundation of preparing for college and going into a psychology field.
Regardless of a few encouraging figures, throughout my entire education I have never felt good enough. All of my friends always get better grades than me, and still here at Carolina I feel like I’m performing more poorly than my peers. It’s possible that it’s all in my head, but why should adolescents with every potential feel like they are never good enough? Why do grades and standardized test scores have such profound psychological effects? It is my dream to help better the education system so that these pressures do not create such burdens on adolescents. Youth and adolescents should feel as if they are able to get the help they need in every aspect of their education. They should feel willing to learn and apply what they learn to what they want to do in life, not solely go to school and be subjected to homework, tests, grades, along with social pressure from peers. The Politics of Reading course has helped me to understand what policies are in place that have shaped my education and what policies are being put in place for new generations to come. I now understand exactly what big names such as No Child Left Behind and Common Core mean, whereas before I only knew that they were initiatives that a lot of people got really riled up over.
The real question however is, how will the education I am getting today shape my life in the future? Many classes that I took Freshman and Sophomore year of college are long forgotten. It takes me a few minutes to even recall which classes I took which semester. The Politics of Reading however is different in the way that it has effected how I look at the education system around me right now. It isn’t based in the past like my history courses are and it isn’t solely focusing on new initiatives like my Global Studies course was. The Politics of Reading is a meshing of historic reforms, present day concerns, and new ideas of what can be done to make this system better. As a guidance counselor I hope to be able to encourage students to go to college and take courses such as these that have current effects. I hope to be able to encourage school retention, and figure out what exactly is challenging a student so much that he or she is considering dropping out. I hope to help those already on the path to success by encouraging them to take honors and AP classes, opportunities that many students close themselves off of because their entire lives the education system has determined them “below average” or “average”.
Learning is a process that should not exist outside of education. In order to make school appealing for everyone, the community and policy makers must come together to form ideas of what can and should be done to motivate students to achieve. Achievement should not be standardized into categorical expectations and labels since early education. When students are given the opportunity to have some control over their own education, as we heard about in class through various guest lectures with free reading initiatives, then students are more likely to get involved and care about their own education. As a whole I feel that our education system should worry less about the distribution of low and high income students in schools, and more about educating students as individuals. Providing opportunities to better aid individuals, such as tutoring sessions and the ability for after school help, would be much more beneficial for both teacher and student than the amount of time and money that it takes to bus a student to a different school.
As a guidance counselor, how will I truly be able to help? I want to be a guidance counselor because I feel like I can help students on an individual level. I won’t be put in the position of the drop-out prevention coordinator nor will I be an authoritative figure of an assistant principal or vice principal. I will hopefully be able to be seen as a helping hand for any student in need of advice or help. I won’t be able to just sit back and wait for students to come to me however. I will need to work with teachers and other faculty to ensure students in every classroom are getting the help that they need in order to succeed. I’m not sure of how much of an impact I could have on policy from that position, but I hope that because I will be surrounded by the education system as a whole I will be able to make some impact. After taking The Politics of Reading course I feel much more prepared to address the big issues in schools that stem from education policy, and honestly it is probably one of the few classes that will have a true impact on my future and the future of those in the education system. Hopefully now I will somehow manage to get into a graduate school and be able to set foot on the path of becoming a guidance counselor, however that is largely dependent on the menacing standardized test of the GRE. Regardless of what the future holds for me, I know that I will do my best to encourage others to love education as much as I do, and to not be afraid of going after their dreams.