The word environment has a multitude of definitions, or rather interpretations. Not too long ago we discussed the environment of science and humanities classes throughout our educations. A topic I feel is a very important, and very overlooked. Throughout my education I have attended a public elementary school, a private middle school, a public magnet high school, and now an out of state, for me, public university. Experiencing this wide range of schools, as well as my own curiosity has brought me to think about this topic quite a bit. I am white, and part of the upper class. While these traits may not necessarily define me, they do impact who I am immeasurably because they change the way I experience and interact with the world around me. In contrast to that I am also a gay female. These traits have also impacted the way I interact with the world, or rather how the world interacts with me. Specifically in education these traits have impacted my relationships with teachers, students, with the material we are taught, extracurricular activities, and much more. More clearly stated, it has impacted the environment of my education.
In elementary school I was discriminated against by classmates for being a girl. From having spitballs hit me, for every day of fourth grade, during class, to not being allowed to participate in the same types of learning games as the boys. The underdeveloped curriculum in my elementary school taught us to memorize, rather than learn information, as well as continues to teach patriarchal ideas, and historical inaccuracies. In middle school this did not change. As a girl I was pushed in one direction, while boys were pushed in another. I saw this most when it came to our teachers expectations for grades, extracurricular activities, and our clothes. This gender discrimination was what was most apparent to me as a child, and it was also relatively consistent from a lower income public school to a religious private school filled with and run by the one percent. Once reaching high school, discrimination towards more than just gender became apparent. I was blinded by my privilege and age growing up, but as I began to open my eyes I think I began to benefit exponentially more from my education.
As much as you can blame not knowing fractions on your fourth grade teacher, or as much as people want to blame a boys inattentiveness on the girl sitting in the front of the class wearing a tank top, what I have realized is for as much of our environment that we cant control, there is so much more that we can. I understand this topic is much larger than what my five hundred words can say, and there are challenges I will never have to experience, but if theres one thing I can emphasize it’s this : Your education is driven by your passion to understand the world around you.
Halle Van De Hey