Friday, April 24, 2009

I Guess School's for Fools

When I was in high school, before I settled on being a scriptwriter, I was going to be an undercover cop a la 21 Jumpstreet. With my quiet, short girl charm, I would blend into the atmosphere of the school and I would never be suspected as a crime-fighting vixen. If only my mother would have allowed me to join the police academy then, while I could take advantage of my youthful good looks. Can you just imagine where I would be now?


I was 16, 17 years old in high school! What did I know about being a detective? And even if I went through training in the academy, I did not have the maturity or enough knowledge about the world to keep myself from being killed. It would have been ludicrous for me to plan my life's career and act on it during my junior year of high school. So why does it make sense for Jeremy Tyler to leave high school in his junior year to go play basketball in Europe?

Like you, SM, I am disturbed by the notion that school is not necessary in the pursuit of a better life. While previously college seemed to be an irrelevant journey, now it seems that high school is just as irrelevant. I remember a conversation I once had with an ex-boyfriend about Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway when he left college to go to the NBA. I thought it was wrong of Penny to leave school, but the ex pointed out that Penny's purpose in going to college was to get a good job and now he was being offered the job he wanted; why not leave school. That makes sense on some level, but it still never sat right with me.

College is about more than getting a job. It's about learning who you are and being exposed to new people, new ideas, new ways of being and thinking. It's about learning where you fit within the world and what you can contribute to make it a better place. And less face it, it's about being able to have fun without the stakes (of life) being too high. Skipping out on all of that to go to work cheats the individual.

Skipping out on high school cheats the individual even more. The idea that all Tyler is is a ball player is disturbing to me, but can he be anything more if he doesn't even finish high school? I hear that people say he is good and might make it in the NBA when he's eligible in two years, but how many people who have made it at pro sports are now flat broke and broke down? How many men are now too banged up to continue in their game? And this boy wants to chance that without even a high school diploma?!? It is not good for anyone in this country to be without a high school diploma, but it is especially problematic when black men are without it. Our prisons are filled with them.

Doesn't he want to go to his prom? To participate in "Class Skip Day"? To don cap and gown and walk across the stage at graduation? Senior year is the fun year. Why miss out on that for responsibilities for which he's not even supposed to be ready?

I am appalled that more people are not appalled by this. In any other field, people would think it silly to drop out of high school to start working. Why is this okay?

Actually it's not.

1 comment:

The Steel Magnolia said...

You know you're preaching to the choir! I also think that many people don't fully understand that you can't necessarily "always go back" to pick up the youth that you've ditched. This is dangerous ground.