Guinea pigs or baby Einsteins

The pressures of today’s modern world


‘Times are a changin’ // Lucy, the guinea pig, at ‘The Ark’ in Rockwall, TX. “You don’t want to be me, although I do get to eat all day,” assumed to be said by Lucy.

Abby Woloss, Opinions Editor

Students are expected to surpass the basic level of knowledge that once was acceptable. They no longer are able to take classes that once were the norm, which causes certain questions to arise about the purpose of it all. Are we pressured to take rigorous classes in order to earn the school an unrealistic institution ranking? Are we falsely guided? Are we all really equally intelligent or as smart as we are told? Smart enough to take classes meant for 3 years our senior? Or are we just becoming guinea pigs? Could we be an experiment conducted in hopes of forming geniuses?

IB, AP, on-ramps, Pre-Ap, on level. All are class options someone could take. Just looking at that is overwhelming. Why are there so many options? That’s something all of us have likely asked ourselves. But here’s the thing. The advanced placement program, in 1950, was first meant for the brightest in the grade: those people you look at now in class and wonder how they remember who the first European king was after first semester;but, in past years, it has become available to everyone. The government wanted to give everybody equal ability to gain a higher education. The problem with that though, is that not everyone is capable of taking those classes. It’s just not something in their abilities; that goes for all races and all ranks of class. So when we are advised that we need to take AP classes and enroll in Pre- AP, why don’t we ask or question why? Why do we just sign on up?

“90% success rates”. That’s what a women from the administration office at Collin College said about the dual credit program. She claimed that this was the county of Rockwall’s success rates, and that even better, there were 99% passing rates at Heath High School. This past August, a meeting regarding what the class on-ramps entailed was held. The meeting showcased a handful of kids who had taken the courses that had evolved from Pre-AP to on-ramps. The students claimed that they struggled for a long time before they started to understand how the course worked. Many questions from parents were asked. Many of those questions could not be answered, because many of its promoters did not know the whole story behind the program.

It is known that dual credit, on ramps, and AP classes are the passage one may take to become an underage college student. And yes, people can and do perform well in the classes. Yet, we aren’t told how touched the  passing rates are, or how many times the grades in the grade book are altered to look better. There are rules and redo policies, but we all know there are loopholes and teachers that will do anything to let their students barely pass by. When we are pressured to learn and know material that we once weren’t taught until we were a legal adult, it makes you wonder: what has become the underlying motive to get kids to take these classes?

The one question that I have continuously heard throughout the school from multiple students is what everyone wants to know: What classes do I take that will set me up for my future, to get ahead, to be in the top 10%, to graduate with more college credits. There are also many kids that say: what do I take that won’t make me feel anxious every five seconds of the day, what classes do I take to stay motivated to finish high school, what classes do I take to just graduate. And the problem is, there is no direct answer. Not everyone is meant to take all the same classes. Yet ironically, at times, it feels like we are categorized for our intelligence level like we once were categorized on reading levels in Kindergarten. It is like we are either average: on level, or smart: advanced. But honestly, we all were not born to be geniuses in math and science, or to take college classes as young teenagers. We are kids. We just need to graduate high school.

There isn’t one answer that can miraculously unravel the mystery we all must solve by the time we start school next year or for any school year at that. The classes we take don’t actually determine our futures. For the handful of times we may be told that they do, is just a direct reflection of what the education system has come to be. In public school’s we have been told since elementary, that we need to know what we want to do for the rest of our lives. That we can prepare for it in high school. But the thing is, we are just in high school. These years are the years we are supposed to try new things to see what we like and to be the stupid teenagers everyone thinks we are. It’s great if someone knows what they want to do with the rest of their life, but the majority of students probably have no clue. If anything, they’re probably as freaked as I am that I have been told I need to know, and that the best way to do that is by enrolling in advanced courses; that my dreams will be achieved by taking higher level classes. But I’m continuously reminded, by people who actually really know me, that this is not true.

We all are on a different path: different life goals, different colleges, and the same should go for the classes we take. Not everyone is an IB student, but those that are deserve some real credit. Not all kids are full AP schedule students either, but some people should dabble their feet in that water because it’s just the next step they need to take. So, I guess someone could say we are just overly encouraged: to push ourselves. And as cliche as it sounds, to also be the best we can be.

But I think, we also need to know our capabilities. We need to do what’s best for ourselves and take the advice we are given with a grain of salt. No one really knows what’s best for us, until we have done it. Maybe that’s why no one knows what to say when you ask “what is the point of all this”. I’m still trying to understand the whole concept of taking courses that we aren’t necessarily all ready to take or that we actually need to take. But for now, I guess we need to do what’s best for us and not what we are told is best for us because its ‘secretly’ best for the system. I’m not sure about other people, but I don’t want to be just another person a part of a statistic or a metaphorical guinea pig a part of a country wide experiment.