I went to high school in a castle. It was a school where the janitorial closets looked like secret doorways and the field bathrooms were designed to look like a dungeon.
At times, the entire school felt like a dungeon. Back to back classes for eight hours, the same twenty-five people every day, and loads of worksheets. Graduation was a great day.
But now, a college sophomore, I realize that my high school was good for me. It taught me to think. As I dive deeper into my training as an ecologist, I realize the importance of this more and more.
Deformation professionnelle is the tendency to look at things from the point of view of one’s own profession. A physician notices the frequency of coughs, a dog trainer notices the dog tugging on the leash, a communication major notices that couple’s body angle.
I, a budding ecologist, notice the mockingbirds flaunting white wing patches, the chickadees flitting endlessly from branch to branch, and the downy woodpecker that every so often makes an appearance on campus.
I see a beautiful, bird-saturated world. But when my friend ventured the topic of the “realness” of time and how time-travel is really spatial travel–the type of topic we so often delighted in debating during high school–it didn’t click. My mind, trained to look for interactions among organisms, couldn’t begin to comprehend such an abstract concept.
It wasn’t a nice feeling. And now I realize that this is precisely what my high school was training us to avoid. They weren’t teaching us Latin so we could converse amongst ourselves, but so we could experience that ancient culture which largely influenced our own. They weren’t teaching us art history, because we all wanted to be architects, but because it was a different way to view the world.
And the school wasn’t designed as a castle to reflect a prison, but to reflect a safe haven where we could learn to think before being sent out to face and transform the world.
In light of this, I propose a resolution, a resolution that we will strive to open our horizons and become lifelong learners, so that our perspectives expand rather than narrow. For by doing so, we can contribute to changing the world.