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Powerful...posted in its entirety. Valedictorian Speaks Out Against Schooling in Graduation Speech                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          by Erica Goldson The following speech was delivered by top of the class student Erica Goldson during the graduation ceremony at Coxsackie-Athens High School in New York on June 25, lasuna in canada 2010 Here I stand There is a story of a young, lasuna in canada but earnest Zen student who approached his teacher, lasuna in canada and asked the Master, lasuna in canada "If I work very hard and diligently, lasuna in canada how long will it take for me to find Zen? The Master thought about this, lasuna in canada then replied, lasuna in canada "Ten years." The student then said, lasuna in canada "But what if I work very, lasuna in canada very hard and really apply myself to learn fast – How long then?" Replied the Master, lasuna in canada "Well, lasuna in canada twenty years." "But, lasuna in canada if I really, lasuna in canada really work at it, lasuna in canada how long then?" asked the student. Lasuna in canada "Thirty years, lasuna in canada" replied the Master. Lasuna in canada "But, lasuna in canada I do not understand, lasuna in canada" said the disappointed student. Lasuna in canada "At each time that I say I will work harder, lasuna in canada you say it will take me longer. Lasuna in canada Why do you say that?" Replied the Master, lasuna in canada "When you have one eye on the goal, lasuna in canada you only have one eye on the path." This is the dilemma I've faced within the American education system. Lasuna in canada We are so focused on a goal, lasuna in canada whether it be passing a test, lasuna in canada or graduating as first in the class. Lasuna in canada However, lasuna in canada in this way, lasuna in canada we do not really learn. Lasuna in canada We do whatever it takes to achieve our original objective. Some of you may be thinking, lasuna in canada "Well, lasuna in canada if you pass a test, lasuna in canada or become valedictorian, lasuna in canada didn't you learn something? Well, lasuna in canada yes, lasuna in canada you learned something, lasuna in canada but not all that you could have. Lasuna in canada Perhaps, lasuna in canada you only learned how to memorize names, lasuna in canada places, lasuna in canada and dates to later on forget in order to clear your mind for the next test. Lasuna in canada School is not all that it can be. 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Lasuna in canada But I contend that I am a human being, lasuna in canada a thinker, lasuna in canada an adventurer – not a worker. Lasuna in canada A worker is someone who is trapped within repetition – a slave of the system set up before him. Lasuna in canada But now, lasuna in canada I have successfully shown that I was the best slave. Lasuna in canada I did what I was told to the extreme. Lasuna in canada While others sat in class and doodled to later become great artists, lasuna in canada I sat in class to take notes and become a great test-taker. Lasuna in canada While others would come to class without their homework done because they were reading about an interest of theirs, lasuna in canada I never missed an assignment. Lasuna in canada While others were creating music and writing lyrics, lasuna in canada I decided to do extra credit, lasuna in canada even though I never needed it. Lasuna in canada So, lasuna in canada I wonder, lasuna in canada why did I even want this position? Sure, lasuna in canada I earned it, lasuna in canada but what will come of it? When I leave educational institutionalism, lasuna in canada will I be successful or forever lost? I have no clue about what I want to do with my life; I have no interests because I saw every subject of study as work, lasuna in canada and I excelled at every subject just for the purpose of excelling, lasuna in canada not learning. Lasuna in canada And quite frankly, lasuna in canada now I'm scared. John Taylor Gatto, lasuna in canada a retired school teacher and activist critical of compulsory schooling, lasuna in canada asserts, lasuna in canada "We could encourage the best qualities of youthfulness – curiosity, lasuna in canada adventure, lasuna in canada resilience, lasuna in canada the capacity for surprising insight simply by being more flexible about time, lasuna in canada texts, lasuna in canada and tests, lasuna in canada by introducing kids into truly competent adults, lasuna in canada and by giving each student what autonomy he or she needs in order to take a risk every now and then. Lasuna in canada But we don't do that." Between these cinderblock walls, lasuna in canada we are all expected to be the same. Lasuna in canada We are trained to ace every standardized test, lasuna in canada and those who deviate and see light through a different lens are worthless to the scheme of public education, lasuna in canada and therefore viewed with contempt. H. Lasuna in canada L. Lasuna in canada Mencken wrote in The American Mercury for April 1924 that the aim of public education is not "to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence. Lasuna in canada ... Lasuna in canada Nothing could be further from the truth. Lasuna in canada The aim ... Lasuna in canada is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, lasuna in canada to breed and train a standardized citizenry, lasuna in canada to put down dissent and originality. Lasuna in canada That is its aim in the United States." To illustrate this idea, lasuna in canada doesn't it perturb you to learn about the idea of "critical thinking?" Is there really such a thing as "uncritically thinking?" To think is to process information in order to form an opinion. Lasuna in canada But if we are not critical when processing this information, lasuna in canada are we really thinking? Or are we mindlessly accepting other opinions as truth? This was happening to me, lasuna in canada and if it wasn't for the rare occurrence of an avant-garde tenth grade English teacher, lasuna in canada Donna Bryan, lasuna in canada who allowed me to open my mind and ask questions before accepting textbook doctrine, lasuna in canada I would have been doomed. Lasuna in canada I am now enlightened, lasuna in canada but my mind still feels disabled. Lasuna in canada I must retrain myself and constantly remember how insane this ostensibly sane place really is. And now here I am in a world guided by fear, lasuna in canada a world suppressing the uniqueness that lies inside each of us, lasuna in canada a world where we can either acquiesce to the inhuman nonsense of corporatism and materialism or insist on change. Lasuna in canada We are not enlivened by an educational system that clandestinely sets us up for jobs that could be automated, lasuna in canada for work that need not be done, lasuna in canada for enslavement without fervency for meaningful achievement. Lasuna in canada We have no choices in life when money is our motivational force. Lasuna in canada Our motivational force ought to be passion, lasuna in canada but this is lost from the moment we step into a system that trains us, lasuna in canada rather than inspires us. We are more than robotic bookshelves, lasuna in canada conditioned to blurt out facts we were taught in school. 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Lasuna in canada It was all of you who were my competition, lasuna in canada yet my backbone. Lasuna in canada In that way, lasuna in canada we are all valedictorians. I am now supposed to say farewell to this institution, lasuna in canada those who maintain it, lasuna in canada and those who stand with me and behind me, lasuna in canada but I hope this farewell is more of a "see you later" when we are all working together to rear a pedagogic movement. Lasuna in canada But first, lasuna in canada let's go get those pieces of paper that tell us that we're smart enough to do so!  http://www.informationliberation.com/?id=31620