I have been told, maybe as a joke, that school is necessary preparation for life. If it is a joke, I don’t get it. I don’t understand how sitting in a classroom for seven hours of the day with people I can’t talk to, people who don’t like me, people I don’t really know that well, is preparing me for life. I don’t understand the value of algebra. I don’t know why I need to read Shakespeare, though I have less of a problem with him than most of the others in my school.
Then, I thought that maybe they might be serious about this. Maybe, the teachers who are telling me that school is preparation for life really believe it. I think they’re trying to trick me into applying myself some more. They want me to go on to study their subjects in college. Like I want to do a mix of Chemistry, Geography and Business for the rest of my life. I’m sure there are some people who do that. Fair play to them. But it’s not for me. I’m not a geographer. I don’t care enough about soil composition to really work in the Chemistry. I don’t really understand why we’re forced to do organic chemistry at the age of eighteen.
So, here’s my theory: the teachers just mean that life is a series of pointless events that really don’t add up to much at all. Life is just sitting around people you don’t know and whose conversations baffle you in their stupidity. Life is just putting up with other people’s shit for most of the day.
I’ve met my parents. I can confirm that my theory is founded in evidence.
See, that’s the thing that’s bothering me. They fight a lot. I mean, they don’t hit each other. They’re a bit soft for that. But they fight over money, and over how many handbags mum has, and over the fact that a certain someone isn’t working and so can’t pay them rent, and you know what? I get the fucking hint.
Maybe there’s some way of making money from my parents. That’s using my Business class, right? Or maybe I can write a story about how going to school is the best thing ever, because we’re supposed to be able to write fiction for an exam. For some reason. I mean, we don’t necessarily have to write fiction, but we have to for class, and we can choose to for the exam.
Maybe I’m supposed to use Leaving Cert Maths to work out the probability that I’m going to turn insufferably bored over the next six months. Or maybe I’m supposed to pretend I understand what people are saying all the time, because that’s all I do in Irish class. Maybe I’m supposed to just run, because that’s all we ever do in P.E. Run, Andrew McCourt, run. Run from everything, because that’s life. It’s not a box of chocolates. Life is implanting useless information over and over again, and learning how to put up with the people who just talk bullshit.
Then I think that maybe the teachers mean that life is learning how to take a punch and keep quiet about it. Or maybe learning not to look people in the eye, because then you’ll only get shouted at. But then, I also get shouted out for not looking people in the eye when the whole reason I’m getting in trouble is because I was running – just like I was taught to. Okay, I suppose when I was running this morning, I was doing it in the corridors, but it was either I run, or I keep my mouth shut while someone hits me.
I took my chances, and I think I made the wrong decision.
See, maybe the teachers mean that life is just unfair. Maybe they mean that no matter what you do to avoid trouble, life is going to fuck with you. You can run from the people who’ll try to hurt you, only to get all the wrong attention.
And this is why I don’t understand it when teachers tell me that school is preparation for life. Real life shouldn’t be a fight for your safety every day. I’ve seen people walk about in suits, strutting their stuff. I’ve seen girls walk about in high heels in perfect safety, never getting sick even when they wear a mini-skirt in the middle of winter. Suit or skirt, it’s all real life and they’re all fine.
So, you know what I want to know? What part of school is supposed to prepare me for life? Is it the waking up early? Is it the people I’m going to be stuck with forever? Is it the fact that despite everything I’ll do during the day, I’ll always have more work to do? What about the fact that no matter what I do, I’ll never be able to go back and change my mind about something as inane as P.E.?
Someone give me answers. Someone explain to me why I have to go to school with all of the assholes who somehow managed to flock to the same building as me. Someone explain why out of the six hundred people in my school, not one of them seems to get that I don’t really know how to talk to them, and how that’s supposed to be preparation for life.
See, this is what I don’t get about school, and about life. The most beneficial thing I do in school is leave. I have no clue what I’m supposed to be learning about life, I don’t think I have enough space in my brain for all the academic stuff, and I don’t know where I’m supposed to fit in.
How’s that for getting in touch with my feelings?