A Valuable Education

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first definition of the word education is “The process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university.” If you asked high school students what the point of going to school is, I have a hunch that the majority of answers would be “to get good grades.” Why is our immediate response that school is not about learning, but about grades?

The purpose of children and young adults going to school is to receive an education that betters our knowledge and helps us become well-rounded individuals. As time has passed and classes have become more rigorous and competitive, the value behind school/education has been lost. The purpose of attending class is no longer to learn new information, but to memorize facts and then spit them back out on a test.

Education has become a competition. With advanced placement and honors courses, students are so focused on earning good grades and getting into universities that they often feel like the purpose of it all is not to learn about world history, calculus, chemistry, etc, but to pass world history, calculus, chemistry, etc.

The grading system was put in place as a way to force students to learn and understand material. I realize the significance of this, but I feel like there is a better way to convey information that will still make a lasting impression and will create a less stressful, more beneficial environment for learning – one that makes students want to learn instead of feeling like they are being forced to learn.

Although the first definition of education mentions “systematic instruction,” the second definition, in my opinion, is far better. Simply put, education is “an enlightening experience.” Now, this might just be my teenage angst speaking, but usually when I come home from school I hardly feel enlightened.

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Personally, I feel like there comes a time when we learn as much as is necessary and beneficial in terms of academics (unless someone’s passion involves a subject that they would then go on to pursue, like a career in science or something of the sort) and the only intelligence that can be further gained is through life experience.

I believe that there is great value in traveling the world and seeing other cultures. I hope to travel all over the world within my life, but not just to the most most desirable places. I want to go to Mumbai, India, where millions of people live in an extremely compact area, or to rural Africa or South America where people live without electricity or running water. Seeing how people live all around the planet, experiencing their cultures and understanding how different peoples’ lives compare to one another: these are the things that help shape a person’s intelligence, skills, morals, and opinions.

I am extremely thankful and privileged to receive the education that I have and I would never want to compromise that. I’m not saying that I’m extremely intelligent (I’m not) and I’ve already learned everything I need to know (I haven’t), but I’ve come to a point where I feel like the best way for me to grow as an individual is to experience all that the world has to offer. But seeing as I am only just beginning my second year of high school, I guess I’ll have to keep up with the classes and grades for a little while longer.



How can I focus on anything but grades?

Don’t focus so much on your grades.”

Teachers have said this over and over again since I started high school.

They constantly tell me to not focus on the end result, but to focus on the material, to develop an interest and study it out of enjoyment, not because I want to get a passing grade.

I don’t understand that at all. Why am I being told not to care so much about my grades or to not study only because I want a good grade, when in reality everything comes down to “intelligence” being perceived from a grade.

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They say that the grade you get isn’t the important part, so why do we get grades at all?

For a teacher to tell me to calm down and relax and not concentrate or obsess so much over what my grade will be, is hands down the most frustrating thing a teacher can ever say.

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It is simple, if teachers don’t want me to focus so much on the grade, then don’t “reward or punish” with a grade.

Grade Gratuity

Are grades worthy of cash rewards?

Growing up, there were always those kids who were bribed by their parents to get good grades. Depending on their situation – financially and academically – different arrangements were made.

I think the luckiest I ran into was my friend who got $50 for every A, $20 for every B, and $10 for every C. Maybe it’s just jealousy, but I think that’s ridiculous.

First of all, if a kid with this guarantee takes the minimum of five classes and barely scrapes passing grades, they still make $50. I don’t think these grades are worthy of that kind of reward!

A more reasonable gratuity I’ve observed is payment for every A on a report card. Whether it’s $50 or $5, this method at least makes the child work hard for their reward.

As a self-motivated person, I’ve always taken academics into my own hands and have never been rewarded for good grades. Of course my parents are proud, but they’ve had no need to bribe me. I doubt the concept of paying me for grades has ever even passed through their minds. Honestly, maintaining good grades is expected of me, and if I fail to do so, it’s entirely my problem.

For the people who receive this reward, that’s awesome for them. Of course it would’ve been great to have received this while growing up, but honestly, I don’t see the point.

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The week leading up to the end of the quarter is stress-inducing for all Ojai Valley School students. In order to accurately evaluate each student, teachers are assigning copious amounts of homework, including big projects with a high point value to assemble a final (quarter) grade.

Every class seems to have at least one test this week, often worth even more points than usual. This week feels like a year, going on and on, but soon to be over!

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Students seem to be dragging around campus as a result of late night studying and cramming to finish projects. Getting a good third quarter grade is often important, since slacking can sometimes happen at the end of the year. Therefore, this final push is what brings everybody to the last quarter, and then the end of the school year.

With that in mind, the quarter end is highly anticipated – everyone just has to make it through this week first!


My Nan.


I love to make my Nan proud. Whatever I do, whatever my achievements however big or small, she is happy. Whenever her family is happy, doing well and meeting their dreams she is the one that will always be the most pleased.

Today I rang my Nan to talk about a summer internship I had earned and we discussed my grades in school, graduation etc. She was ecstatic that I had called her which shone through her shyness as she told me all about the family and her garden and life. When I told her about my achievements she was so pleased and told me how she was so glad my work had paid off and I was doing well.

Although I disappointed her when I told her I would not be returning to England she said she looked forward to seeing me in California this Christmas time and still never ceased to show her happiness.

Whatever we do as grandchildren and wherever we place she will always be proud to call us her grandchildren, and that is why I am ever so proud to call her my Nan.

Let The Stress Begin!

As the week comes to an end and the weekend begins I am feeling more and more stressed out. I feel like I’m in a big way psyching my self out way more than is necessary but regardless, it sucks.

I really want to do well on my finals, more than ever before. I want to make my mom proud and my teachers proud but even more so my self proud. I am beyond sick of disappointing my mom and my teachers, I just want them to be happy for me and say good job instead of what I’ve always heard which is “you could do better” or “you need to do better” dissapointed

I want to be able to walk away from a final with a smile on my face and knowing that I did well, it’s horrible to walk away and know that you got a bad grade. F

One day I want to feel what it feels like to get an “A” on a final, and no Spanish class didn’t count.

Lets see if I can make it happen this time.

Hopefully this won’t happen!


Crunch Time

Who knew so much pressure could mount up on one’s shoulders? I’m trying to cram so much information into my head. The AP weeks are coming up and I am on the brink of crumbling. AP Calculus AB and AP US History the first week, followed by three SAT II subject tests that saturday. Oh and what else? An AP Biology test that upcoming Monday and an AP Writing and Composition test to top it all off.

I am beginning to think that I will not be able to get the grades that I want to on these tests. I will need to stay up very late and buy multiple Starbucks double shots from Starr Market. However, what frustrates me is the recent ruling that girls are not allowed to stay up to study in the girl’s lounge past lights out. I just can’t wrap my head around it.

I understand that the faculty is concerned with us staying up and that those staying up may have abused the privilege by eating food while studying or being on Facebook. I am not going to lie, I did both. But that doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t be eating in my room or checking my Facebook for a quick five minute reprieve (because my brain cannot handle studying for hours on end without a quick break). However, I don’t think that the faculty understands that we cannot reach our goals of staying up to study and fully grasp our studies as well as do extra work for the upcoming SAT and AP tests in our rooms. My roommate usually goes to bed after a half an hour or an hour after study hall and studying under the small light of my desk lamp is very difficult. I chose to stay up. I want to stay up. I do so to get the grades I get and I do so to stay on top of things. But now that I can’t stay out in the lounge, I can’t study to my fullest potential.

It’s crunch time. This weekend and every night after tonight, I will be studying, studying, studying and praying my BUTT OFF so that God would bless me with the knowledge and preparation I need for this test. Ahh, maybe I should build my own personal girl’s lounge as an extension of my room. Ha! Now that would be odd.