The Truth About Education

It’s the final day of our Listening Campaign project with the students at REACH Ashland Youth Center. Having recently recorded another 20 interviews and presented their findings to the AC Board of Education Trustees, the youth team assembles to download their interviews and insights.

Here are some of the gems from the conversation:

What comes up for you when I say “Education”?

You can’t depend on it. It’s what you choose to do with it. Education doesn’t define the person. The person defines their education. Only you can make education golden.

Going to college has nothing to do with being successful. They just keep feeding that to the students. There are plenty of people who are successful without college.

You have to be interested in something in order to understand it. That’s why so many people drop out – because they’re not interested.

One of my teachers cannot teach.

All of my teachers cannot teach.

Teachers can keep talking in class, but do you learn? I don’t care. Just because you’re in school doesn’t mean you’re learning anything. But someone can teach you in 15 minutes and you could get something. Learning in classroom makes you smart; learning in life makes you wise.

The things they don’t teach you at school are what help you develop as a person.

Do Alameda County students need art?

People were saying that art is the way they survive in life. They wake up listening to music, making music. It’s what keeps them going and makes them successful. Developing their craft.

A lot of the most successful people are creative. They use creativity and art. They created something artistically, whether with food, a machine, whatever, they use the arts to become great.

I hope Trump realizes that a lot of things are art that you don’t consider art. Who designed that Trump tower you like so much? That’s art.

Architects. That’s art. They usually are drawing out building plans. They have that mindset of knowing how to construct a building in a certain way, knowing what’s appealing to people, what’s functional.

Having a creative mindset in general is what makes people successful. You gotta do something different. You can’t just repeat the same old thing. You have to think outside of the box to become great, and greater than what people expect of you.

Once you have so many resources, you lack creativity. When you lack resources, your creativity comes forth. That’s when people start inventing new things. You have to figure out a new way to get what you need.

Like the first Apple computer, he created it with a baking pan. He had to think out of the box to make his first Apple machine. I think he used a muffin pan in order to create a computer. We need people like that. Look where that got him.

Look at Intel. All that comes with creativity. In order to make that appear on a screen, that’s creativity. To make it work, that’s creativity. You won’t be able to make a computer without art.

You don’t think about creativity ‘til you get out of school. They brainwash you into thinking you have to do something. If they encourage creativity, it’s a whole different situation. Instead they have you doing busywork. They’re training you for a desk job, not teaching you to invent something new.

You are in a cubicle, but in a mass setting. That’s school.

In school, they don’t pay attention to creativity. It’s always the adults setting rules for something. You try to branch out but there are so many rules to stop you from branching out.

They don’t want you to go far. They want slaves. They want your mind to be controlled, to control what you think as a person. That’s what they did to slaves, programmed their minds to think they can only do this thing or you will be punished.

They may feel like they’re doing their best, but they’re not properly educated. In other countries, they are taking our jobs because of how they have been educated.

They don’t pay the teachers well but expect them to do so many things. So many rules – what they can teach and not teach, what textbooks to use – which makes them not care. They can’t do anything about it. Someone is over their shoulder telling them to teach something that isn’t relevant.

Whoever is over the education system; whoever makes the guidelines, the textbooks,  the county guidelines – they may be misguided. They think this is the best thing. And they’re lazy. To be honest, we’ll throw you a bone but won’t go all out for you.

The people we spoke to, they didn’t create those guidelines but they are not changing them. If they want more arts, they can make arts available, or bring schools more funding. They can make the difference. We can tell them a million times, but they are the ones making the change. To be honest, no one wants to put in the work. It sounds like something that’s not possible.

The pressure is put on everyone else to give them, the leaders, the ideas. We are young, not as powerful as they are. Even the governor is restricted – he is one cool dude but there are restrictions and people who want to restrict how the country grows.

They don’t put certain things in textbooks; they don’t want people to know certain things.

Our art programs, they say, “Oh, we have this great amazing program you can do.” Still, I’ve spent more time in art class at a desk.

In my art class, this whole year we’ve only had four actual art projects. We’ve mostly been listening to her talk about what other artists have done. It’s supposed to be drawing and painting, but she’s talking about other people and what we can do, but we’re not doing it. We switched teachers, with [the previous teacher] we were doing an art project every week, he gave us time to work on it, it was fine. This teacher now, we get one project a month. We don’t get to be creative – we get to listen to how other people are so creative.

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All this wisdom makes one wonder: what exactly are we “educating” our young people to be?

Through reflecting on their own experiences and listening to others, these students have articulated that art is much more than drawing and painting (though they’d still love to draw and paint!) Art is more than hearing about what other artists have done. Art is the backbone to success, and the bridge by which we can connect to our creativity.

In their words, and in their hopes, they say:

Don’t let your life be defined by someone else. Be creative.

IL dept