Dear School, Eff Your ‘F’
Two-thirds of millennials don’t know what Auschwitz is, blame the standardized test
For a long time you will say I am not listening, not paying attention. You will insist I do not care, that I am lazy. At best, a daydreamer.
A neurological explanation will be found. You will give me cures: Here is extra time to complete the test. And a calculator. And medicine for your daydreaming brain. You will feel good about yourselves: See how we have accommodated, how kind we are, how helpful and understanding?
And I will wonder how very awful I must be. They gave me extra time, gum to chew, notes to view and still, I can’t do better than before. Where there was only suspicion (Am I stupid?) now there is proof: my scarlet letters, Ds and Fs. You don’t make me wear these as an armband or sewn onto my shirt, but I can’t take them off, either. They’re mine for good.
"Try harder. Work harder. Pay attention. Sit still. Stop drawing. Stop humming. Begin again," you say.
Sometimes I get a B, even an A. But I hate those, too. I see how they cause your dark, dulled eyes to spark and catch fire: “Look! He can do it. He simply wasn’t trying before. Hooray!” I fear your excitement. Like a giant bird, it clutches and carries me too close to the sun. Others cheer. But I am not happy. I do not want what comes next.
I don’t like your As or your Fs. Beneath the height of one lies the abyss of the other.
Not all fall as I do, but all fear it. Those with a string of pearled As fear it most. I, at least, have made this place my own. I’ve hung your anxiety above my bed like a college banner. (Go Anxiety!) Your lack of faith is here, next to mine, folded neatly with my logo-less T-shirts. I wasn’t sure where to put your disappointment… it might be somewhere on my desk under a pile of mail, just ads and coupons, no acceptance letters. Sorry. As for your dreams of who I could be… a lawyer, one of those successful business people, a famous somebody. I’ve got those dreams right here and I’d like for you to have them back. They’re yours, after all.
My turn to hand out letters. I am giving you an F.
Your curriculum is…