Education in the United States (and, I imagine, elsewhere) is a strange beast. Educators are, unfortunately, forced to throw as much information at us as possible from as many different subjects as possible in the hopes that some of it sticks. Regrettably, our surfaces in this metaphor are not particularly sticky. In fact, it often seems we’re better at repelling that information than anything else, like some kind of rubber wall lined with grease.

That metaphor just got a little weird.

Thinking back on grades K-12, there’s very little in terms of specific raw data that stands out in my mind. While teachers were throwing facts and preparing everyone for tests, my brain was busy elsewhere most of the time. I was never a bad student, personally, I’m clever enough to get through tests without really knowing what the hell I’m talking about, but much of the specifics are lost to me now. I’d hoped this trend would be alleviated in college, but so far, the only things that really stick out are the practical ones, the things that I use every day regarding the creation of art and the mixing of words. Art History is a blur of images and while I’m certainly learning some things, many others are just little factoids that I use to pass tests and then immediately discard.

The problem here isn’t the educators themselves and that’s unfortunate. If teachers were to blame for the state of education today, we could just fire them all and hire new ones. Unfortunately, the problem seems to be systemic and it’s forcing this country and others into a downward spiral. The million dollar question is what do we do about it?

That thing people tell you when you’re little about how everyone is a unique and beautiful snowflake is sort of true when it comes to learning. Everyone learns in different ways and everyone has aptitudes and desire for learning different things. The issue with this is that we aren’t born with a label or some tell-tale mark that tells us exactly how we learn or what we like. School in the States is more about shoving a bunch of things in your face in the hopes that a particular subject or career path will interest you enough to pursue it independently. Some people find that out sooner and some later, and sometimes there are hurdles that one can’t entirely anticipate. Because of the extremely varied nature of learning and the different levels of desire for learning itself, it’s difficult to create a curriculum that caters to the many needs of students. Being unable to get classes engaged in a topic is a sure sign of failure and at that point the only resolution is to test and hope that fear of failure will spark some effort.

As it stands, education here in the United States is more like a very difficult babysitting gig with impossible expectations placed on both students and teachers. We look at falling grades and proficiency levels and the first places we look are at the kids and the ones teaching those kids when the real problem is the system itself. Education right now is simply a way to drill societal expectations into your brain and to get you thinking about how you fit into the great machine that is your society. If you can recognize and overcome that particular mental hurdle, you can get through school with a bit of knowledge, at the very least.

Up until the point you figure out what you’re really going to do with yourself, much of the information that passes to your brain is likely going to be discarded. What happens for most of us is a kind of general experience where you understand a few basic concepts in variety of subjects and have a much more specific knowledge of social workings. There are much worse things that could happen, for sure. You could go to a facility where they put you to work milking cows for eight hours or simply be buried up to your neck in sand every day from 8am to 3pm, but there are also better things that could happen. Hopefully parents, students, and educators can come together in the near future and start working out a better process for future generations instead of the institutionalized mess we have now.

Still, I have to say that I’m glad for at least getting SOME education. Something is certainly more than nothing, and for that, at least, I am grateful.

I think I am anyway.

I can’t really remember.

**On an unrelated note: as I said a few posts back, William and I will be at table 96 in the Artist’s Alley of Anime Boston this year selling prints of illustrations, some comics, buttons, and t-shirts! I will try very hard to at least get something up for Friday, but I’m just letting you all know now that this might not be possible. Either way, I hope to see some of you there!**