Friday, September 24, 2010

Valedictorian Finishes High School and Asks, "Is that all there is?"

The Innovative Educator took its first step two and a half years ago and if you read my first post on this blog you'll learn that I spent most of my school years in what felt like a meaningless, dreary torture chamber. My teachers promised that though what they were teaching might not seem important then, I would need it when I grew up. I couldn’t wait to fast forward past all this boring stuff and grow up to figure out why all this stuff was important. I hurried on my way to growing up, graduating college at 19. I didn’t know how it was that growing up would teach me the meaning of what seemed an irrelevant school experience, but I was excited to finally have the mystery solved.

Once in the real world, I realized it was all a farce. There was very little that I learned in school that was valuable…especially after 4th grade. I felt cheated and disappointed that I had spent countless excruciatingly BORING years in classrooms and had nothing to show for it but a bunch of diplomas and boxes of reports graded by my teachers that no one cared about.

My experience is, for the most part, what led me to the field of education. I wanted to do what I could to ensure future students had an experience more relevant, meaningful, and less boring than mine. How refreshing it was then, to hear from Erica Goldson who upon leaving high school this year shared this.

“It seems that my view of working toward experiential learning is proving to be correct. It seems that university takes away the fun of learning, just as my high school did. It seems that students are here just to pass their classes, so that they can get a degree, and then get a job, to then be consumers just like the corporate and marketing industry would like us to. It seems that we are all running into a big hole - a hole that leaves us feeling empty inside and leaves our society nugatory.”

Erica is extremely frustrated as she jumps through what she perceives to be the meaningless hoops of life in primary, secondary, and now post secondary education. She shared her frustration ever so eloquently in her recent valedictorian speech which you can watch below and read here Coxsackie-Athens Valedictorian Speech 2010.

With nearly 1/2 a million views of her video and counting, it is clear that this young lady has struck a cord. The question now is, what are those of us in the education system going to do in response to the frustration shared by Erica and felt by so many of her peers, parents, and teachers?

Here are some places to learn more about Erica Goldson and her message.


  1. I wonder if it makes sense to provide our gifted students IAPs?

  2. This is eye opening stuff. Thanks a lot for sharing it. I especially like her saying: "while others were creating music and writing lyrics, I did extra credit, even though I didn't need it." Very poignant.

  3. This is a must see video for anyone involved in education. Erica's message reflects the sad state of education today. How can we allow a young person with such an amazing mind to be shackled in a "slave-like" system and call ourselves educators? I am positive that Erica is not the only young person that feels this way and I know there are plenty of educators who are constantly fighting to change this system of education. Together, we must all stand up and demand a better education for our kids. They so deserve it!