I know what you are thinking. Summer time is here wooohoo! For many of us, the summer is a time to close the books on school for a solid three whole months. Woot! I mean, who needs school anyway? It’s such a pain. Classes that you may be forced to take, homework that you could care less about and tests that give you anxiety you don’t need because life is stressful enough as it is! Whoever invented school, clearly was not thinking about your needs…or were they?
With so much pressure on us as students, parents, teachers and education administrators its no wonder we often forget about the amount of pressure on the education system as described in Ellen Lagemann’s book “An Elusive Science: The Troubling History of Education Research.” Imagine if your job was to make sure people turn out to be “good citizens” (whatever that means, who defines what’s good anyway?). Suddenly, your calculus exam doesn’t seem so scary after all.
But the anxiety that comes with tests is very real. Sometimes it feels that you have no control over the situation. The learning is painful because someone else is telling you what to do and learn. As Diane Coutu suggests there are two types of anxiety associated with learning. One stems from feeling stupid if you fail and the other from realizing that if you don’t change your behavior you will fail. Diane refers to these types of anxiety as “learning anxiety” and “survival anxiety,” respectively. This anxiety can not only prevent you from achieving your academic goals but it can also mislead teachers to judge you as incapable of learning the subject even though you are totally capable!
Lucky for you it’s the summer and it just might be the perfect time to learn that education isn’t all about tests and assessments. It’s also about expressing yourself.
Education doesn’t have to be forced if you have the curiosity and passion to find out for yourself what you are interested in. In fact, people have been learning this way forever. Alicia Keys, Isaac Newton and Kobe Bryant learned about things that they were interested for years before becoming super skilled. Now they can express themselves as they wish (well, not Mr. Newton anymore). They have all expressed themselves through art, math and science or sport and share the fact that without becoming educated in their field, they may have not found the means to express themselves as they want to.
It’s doubtful that they understood everything the first time they tried to learn what they liked. There were probably bumps along the way. Lots of bumps. But if you don’t come across things that you don’t understand or that are not obvious, then you wouldn’t be learning would you!
This summer learn about something you enjoy. And find a way to express yourself.