Inert medicated students, dragging their feet from one room to another.
Robots shuffling to courses, knowing they need to pass their classes but not feeling elevated at all or even motivated in why they need to suffer for a high school diploma—this is what I see from my second floor class in a public school in Southern California.
“Describe yourself in one single word,” I said to my future-to-be high school graduates in my World Humanities class.
“Busy,” “stressed,” “lazy,” “inert,” “insane,” “hyper,” “burnout” were the most used words coming from the mouths of eighteen-year-olds.
“Is this because you guys are waiting for the college results?” I asked baffled at so much negativity.
“Yes, and also because it is our last year; it is really stressful,” voices chimed in.
After a moment of pondering, I continued: “So, if you were to think, when was the last time you actually kneel down and smelled a rose on your way to school?” I asked with a smile on my face, hoping from the bottom of my heart that there will be some sort of a funny answer coming from these young minds. After a debilitating silence, the answer came probably in the same “verbal package” I was already used to, considering that I asked my college students and my adult friends the same question and that was: “Well, who has time for that, really?”
In a world filled with an array of multitasking, bombarded with emails, text messages, selfies, addicted to the screen of their iPhones, with their ears plugged and connected to their iPods, listening to iTunes and watching YouTube and concomitantly playing video games, teenagers separate themselves from the real world.
Most of them are stuck in the tracks of following the crowds, believing that if they would miss that one text or Tweet, the world would come to an end. Teenagers nowadays live from one moment to another, not seeing the big picture or even being interested in it. There are no moments of awareness where decisions are thought out, dissected and weighted in. Seeing beyond this moment or believing that things can change because they are the doers of those actions is a foreign concept.
Looking at the lifeless faces, I asked my class once again, “Can you guys see beyond high school? What do you see?”
“College for the smart ones,” the answer came very quickly. “And beyond that?” I continued.
“Jobs, the real life,” students echoed.
This was the moment I realized with sadness that students’ minds are trained that they need to go to school, and from there to be part of a better schooling system, getting a higher education, which would be the launching pad for a better job. Everything is done, scripted by the society for each and every one of them, and the circle repeats itself with no real vision of what is beyond each action.
Students are the product of a limited educational system that is not teaching them the higher purpose of learning. Education these days is too focussed on addressing and quantifying GPAs and comparing class ranking. Like dogs on short leashes, they are trained that in order to get the yummy bone, they need to “stay in place,” “be in place,” and “respond in a timely manner to short commands.”
What happened to the open mind? What has happened to a mindful education where students feel what they need to do, like what they have chosen and enjoy each and every step of the process instead of believing that they are “too stressed, too tired, too busy” to perform that task? This is not what we need nowadays; we are not in need of trained robots acting out of a script, encoded with tons of tasks that are not felt, enjoyed, or even rationalized.
Life is not scripted and each moment holds the miracle of a lifetime. Having the capacity to see beyond “busy, stressed, burnt out” is to understand why we are doing the things we are doing.
Do we even need them to perform after all? And, considering that life still goes on out there no matter what happens in our world, have we listened to the singing of a bird in the palm tree?
Have we admired the hummingbird floating in the air and then making love to the petals of a rose?
To which extent can we really see beyond this moment but still acknowledge its magic, its potential, its sweetness? Can we fill up our lungs and just breath into the next moment?
Let’s teach our students that at the end of the day, seeing beyond is not related to more stress or to another school task but to a moment that is fresh out of life’s bakery.
We need to hold this moment in it the miracle of our existence and the potential of a lifetime.
Breathe, close your eyes, and let’s all count to ten and feel this moment, and the next one in its entirety of 60 seconds.
Now, let’s all be more, for we are human beings and not human doings!
Author: Aura Imbarus
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: Sodanie Chea at Flickr