This week I was stopped in the halls at school by our principal, Payton Chapman. She asked me how my year was going and about Hey Hank News and told me that she heard a clip of me on the radio. She then asked me why I as no longer on the staff of the school newspaper. The Cardinal Times is one of the oldest school newspapers in the nation and I was on the staff freshman year. Since then I haven’t read or written a single article for the paper.
The problems that I have seen in the Cardinal Times are problems that I see throughout the entire school. The CT suffers from problems that are widespread in the public education system: education that limits kids.
The Cardinal Times limits kid’s creativity. Freshman year, our first assignment was to interview someone in our community and write an article about them. Most people in my class interviewed their parents or neighbors; someone they knew personally that didn’t necessarily have a great story to tell but was someone they could schedule 15 minutes to interview. However, as I misinterpreted the assignment, I went out and interviewed the healthcare advisors for the Governor of Oregon.
I brought in the interview to school and to my surprise, I got the lowest grade in the class. I also watched as all my classmates got their articles published but mine was not. When I asked my teachers about the negative response, the answer I got was fascinating. My teachers told me that I had not completed the assignment because the article that I wrote did not relate to the school community.
That article soon became my first issue of Hey Hank News-a place where I am not constrained by the criteria of others.
This happens all the time. Because an assignment doesn’t fit a specific category, it is disregarded. This limits kids and prevents them from growing, expanding, and doing creative and interesting work.
The Cardinal Times limits kid’s world views. Every year there will be the same issues: A back to school issue, an issue about sports, diversity, new teachers, class elections, and then an end of the year issue. There is nothing new or creative that is pushing kids. The CT has not been publishing interesting or creative work. They have never gone out and interviewed community leaders or politicians to ask them about the city or the future of high schoolers in Oregon. Because the teachers say it doesn’t relate specifically to the school itself, kids aren’t pushed to go above and beyond, writing about what is really going on in the world
Teachers are doing kids an injustice. When they think it might be helpful to tell kids what to write about, or what to research, or what to learn, it is not only stunting any form of creativity and independence, it is also failing to prepare us for the real world. In ten years, there won’t be anyone out there to tell us what to do or give us specific assignments. Instead, what makes people successful is whether or not they are able to think for themselves, create, build and invent all on their own.
When Principal Chapman asked me why I wasn’t doing the Cardinal Times, I wanted to answer that the educational system is failing us and undermining teen’s creativity. But I didn’t.