Archive | September, 2012

Thoughts on YERT

19 Sep

Our education system here is faulty, to put it mildly. Students are left to deal with the numerous slip-ups of the board and are sometimes even blamed for its inadequacy. For years I mentally raged against our joke of an administration, resigned myself to a wary truce for a couple more years, and now – finally – my own school is potentially starting a club called Youth Education Reform Team, or “YERT” for short.

I know little about this affiliation at the moment, but I am fully in love with the idea of it and shall fully support it if I find myself able. It’s ironic that we students – that is to say, those of us who remain intellectually inclined – know more about what ought to be done than most adults do. Yet I have a pretty strong conviction that if we attempted to make suggestions to the system people, they would disregard it as they do so many of our sayings and doings. While this nation is meant to endorse freedom of speech, “minors” (as people tend to refer to those under the age of eighteen) are not only ignored: they are sometimes silenced. Simply being young is enough to turn off many older people’s attention, as we are seen as inferiors. Why else do we have to address adults as “Sir” and “Madam” but for their self-styled sense of superiority? While I do acknowledge their greater amounts of life experience, many people grow cocky with age and like to exercise their so-called greatness for no reason other than that they can. There are some very wise and intelligent adults out there, to be sure; there are also children and teenagers who are equally so. The same applies to stupidity – I know of some very dim people who have been hired for prodigious titles, one of whom was the President of the United States from 2001 until 2009. I will not attempt to deny the fact that there are some very slow-witted youths, either. Plenty of them attend my school. These idiots see me as a figure of insanity, and perhaps I am for thinking outside the proverbial box. But whenever I use a “big word” in English class or elsewhere – even one which is not a rare term – I receive stares of stunned awe bordering on admiration, maybe even fear. Brawn can be useful, but given a choice I would pick a healthily-growing mind over giant muscles any day. Besides, I would not be shocked to discover half of the meatheads at my school use steroids. Unfortunately, tossing a ball from player to player does actually earn revenue for some, even if it does not accomplish much else. But the people who change the world are those who know how to read and write, how to calculate, how to think. And thinking is something people just do not seem capable of doing anymore.

If I worked for the Wake County Public School System, I might well be fired after an hour or so for my eccentric ideas of how to better serve our younger friends. Despite the technology given to us by thinkers, and perhaps even partially due to it, we are in a social dark age of ignorance, arrogance, and above all, stupidity. My ideal education would not involve being daily imprisoned on a campus filled with mind-numbing, droning lectures. Given the chance, I would be allowed to visit truly academic places across the globe in order to learn (as opposed to passing the final exam and forgetting everything needed for it). I would learn what is truly necessary for me; not everyone needs to know everything. I could prepare my own lunches, fresh ones, or eat out on occasion. Laboratories and workshops would be my learning places, as opposed to stuffy boxes of despair and boredom. Instead of being categorized by a college major, I would be a person.

Many of the aforementioned people with closed minds would retort that I am simply a child who does not yet appreciate all that school does for one. My reply to such a claim would be that I am in fact an adult by law, and that there are indeed adults who would agree with me. Anarchy is not what I suggest here (although that would be interesting); my silent suggestion is that children be communicated with, taught personally instead of being shipped off to school to relieve their parents’ duties, and above all, heard.

It may seem that young people do not have a voice, but the truth is that people will hear them if they just listen.

School essay on BEOWULF – “Fate and Faith”

19 Sep

            The name of the original bard to tell the story of Beowulf has been lost to the ages. Most information about the epic poem and those who passed it down over the centuries is pure speculation based on its content as well as known history. The primary faiths at work in Beowulf are Christianity and Paganism, which both seem to exist without one negating the other. The Christian figure of God is alluded to several times throughout the epic, such as His protecting the throne of King Hrothgar. Wyrd, or fate, seems to share authority with God, guiding Schild’s funerary vessel across the sea and governing who lives and dies.

Fate is unbiased and impassive: Beowulf is depicted as a strong, heroic figure, yet he meets his end with a fire dragon. To be sure, he was no longer in his prime at that point, but that goes to further illustrate that fate keeps things in balance, as opposed to taking “sides.” Grendel was a threat to the human population, and so wyrd allowed him to be slain, and after that, his vengeful mother was also dispatched. The dragon seems to have been a device to rid the world of Beowulf – not because he posed a threat to the demonic population at this point, but because his time on this earth had all but run out. The dragon was destroyed, too: it appears to have been a “use and discard” method of fate, similar to a modern water bottle or a dissolving pill.

God’s grace could also have been at work in the final stand. As previously stated, He seems to be working alongside the pagan fate rather than opposing it (as many others would have Him do) – He seems to have been involved in Grendel’s mother’s spawning as well as that of Grendel himself. Grendel is said to be a descendent of the Biblical villain Cain, the first murderer. Fallen beings, such as Lucifer becoming Satan, often physically transform God’s transgressors into grotesque creatures. While many people can somewhat picture a Western dragon, the forms of Grendel and his terrible mother are left largely to the imagination as “things from Hell.” Art has generally depicted them – mostly Grendel – as being like trolls or ogres: large, brutish, vaguely humanoid monsters, sometimes with scaly patches or horns or cloven hooves. While appearances are not everything, people often do judge others by them. In this context, however, it may be advisable as these beasts are clearly not of the Heavenly sort.

To this day, Christianity spites paganism as being associated with witches or demons. There may be more tolerance now, and hanging is not as common a thing as it once was, but as long as there are humans, it seems, there will be those who judge other beliefs. That being said, God and wyrd are in cahoots in this epic. It is not unlikely that there was a shift in beliefs from bard to scribe: the original poets may have been pagan, and the story may have reached monastery ears and been given Christian elements. If so, it seems to have worked out for the best, as it is a well-known tale which is read to this day.

This illustrates that two or more different faiths may cooperate to achieve great things, such as preserving one of humanity’s oldest recorded writings. Disputes constantly break out between cultures, often due to contradictory religions, but it is not rare for people who are different to work toward the same goal. God worked with wyrd; why should their followers not do the same?