An inspiring education


Lucia Rivera

A quote from Malala Yousafzai, a 23-year-old Nobel prize winner and advocate for equality and access to education, among other subjects. Yousafzai was 15 years old when she was shot in an assignation attempt by the Taliban, according to Britannica.

It’s now that time of year, filled with a familiar sense of nerves and anticipation. Planning and prepping for standardized tests went from a thought at the back of our minds to a current state of being. But not this year for me. 

This year, all my International Baccalaureate (IB) assessments are completed because of pandemic-induced changes and I am free of Advanced Placement (AP) courses. In fact, the entirety of my high school education is practically over. In less than a month I’ll graduate with the rest of my class of 2021 and embark on a summer of change. 

Yet, I don’t feel detached from the content in my classes. Not having tests to focus on acing at the end of the year has actually reminded me of the actual purpose of all the time I spend in class and doing homework. It’s to exercise my mind, gain knowledge and grow as an individual — and no tests are telling me whether or not I was successful this time. 

After about a year of distance learning, I had settled into a state of frustration and uninspired weekdays when it came to my class curriculums. Assignments felt like busy work that kept me at my desk — where I didn’t want to be. 

I was trained to focus on the IB exams approaching in May, but it became less and less likely that we would be taking them. I was similarly trained to focus on making grades for my college applications, but soon enough those came and went. And after that? I came up empty when grasping for the objectifiable purpose to what I was learning in school. My distance learning courses felt emptier, less meaningful. 

No tests are telling me whether or not I was successful this time. ”

— Lucia Rivera

In contrast, before distance learning and high school altogether, I had almost always been the kid who loved attending school and sharing the daily highlights on the long car ride home. I now reminisce on the waiting, and arguing, for a turn to speak among my siblings. This year, there were no car rides, and often, no highlights either.

This week, however, has felt different. I feel a bit lighter, eager to learn more and more in the upcoming weeks. Knowing I’ll be attending some hybrid classes soon excites me, but I am mostly hopeful for the future. A sense of languish tricked me into counting my assignments as little items to check off my to-do list. I’m trying to remember that they actually are pretty astounding. 

How lucky are we to get to be academically pushed and coached every day? Despite the many shortcomings of our current schooling situation, we are still learning, something I stopped appreciating for a moment this year. 

I am not learning and putting in effort because I want to see that 5 or 7 mark reported in July. I am learning because I appreciate growth and knowledge, and because I recognized how privileged I am to learn. As Malala Yousafzai said, “One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world” — and I believe it.