Last night we had tacos.
This morning, in the search for a breakfast, I combined a corn tortilla with cheese and popped it into the panini maker.
It was the moment that I took one bite that my world collapsed.
Ok, fine, it didn’t collapse, but it did throw me backwards a couple of years.
Into a world that when I lived it, it felt pretty fragile.
Let me explain.
The school I attended for my ninth and tenth grade years was a perfect example of everything that’s wrong with the education system.
Not that this had anything to do with their management style, but once a week we had corn tortillas with melted cheese for lunch.
The moment I took a bite of my breakfast, it was all I could do to force it down my throat. I wasn’t going to throw up, I’m a big girl.
But I wanted to.
The taste brought me back to those days in that dank basement lunchroom, those moments between non-educational classes and sleep sessions.
It brought back the empty stomach feeling of 7 pm, when there was no food in our cabinets, and dinner was too long ago.
It brought back the suffocating feelings of having too many roommates in my tiny room, a room that I needed to be in, but couldn’t breathe in.
It brought back the sly smile of the principals, the english classes in which the teacher could not spell, the 4 hour detention in which we could not put our head down on our desk, the overwhelming negativity that swallowed those who tried not to drown.
People say not to blame your problems on the circumstances around you, but there was only so much I could do to keep myself afloat in an unhealthy environment.
I was angry and sad, but nobody looked in on me.
All I heard from the administration when I was on the phone in tears with my mother was “Don’t speak on the phone in the front of the dorm, it’s not modest”
They expected the worst from their group of teenage girls, and handled that fear in the worst way.
They had no trust in us, a vital tool in helping vulnerable girls develop into confident adults.
They failed me, and they failed a lot of other girls.
They made me feel like a failure and a piece of dirt.
It was not just their attitude, but the way they saw education.
This fact followed me, even when I switched schools in hope for a change.
In both schools, I learnt a lot:
I learnt that learning how to spell and have proper reading comprehension is unimportant.
I learnt that knowing how to memorize and spit back was more important than being able to understand the information.
I learnt that working on myself is useless unless I produce excellent results each time I try.
I learnt that I could never be good enough.
I learnt that adults will trip you up and not accept the blame when it comes back to them.
I learnt that working hard does not equal learning more.
I learnt that the school system failed me, as it did many others.
I can live not liking corn tortillas and cheese. I can live my whole life being sickened by the taste and I can still live a happy life.
But I can’t continue my own life when others are being sickened by corn tortillas.
I can’t close my eyes to those who are suffering through it now, telling themselves that this is school and it’s struggles.
Education is the most beautiful thing you can give someone.
Every educator has a golden chance to excite a student to want to learn more.
I love learning. I hated school.
If only I got a chance to learn in school.