This is part of the speech Erica Goldson, the 2010 Valedictorian of Coxsackie-Athens High School, gave at her graduation ceremony.
The speech was uploaded on YouTube, went viral and Erica became known as the ‘Valedictorian who spoke out against schooling’. You can watch the entire speech and read the transcript here.
Erica’s speech really struck a nerve with me because I was totally like her when I was in school. I always did what I was told, didn’t ask too many questions, mindlessly memorised then regurgitated facts and figures. I remember I would write out an entire essay for homework, memorise the whole thing, then write it down verbatim on test day … and then promptly forget it and move on to the next assignment. I graduated near the top of my class, but on hindsight, I’m not sure I learnt much. The pattern continued as I went on to university, even though I never really wanted to be a graphic designer. But the piece of paper I received at the end did help me land a job, so it was all worth it in the end right? Maybe if I had heard this speech back in high school, I would have realised I was stuck in the system and gone down a different path.
One positive thing I do remember about school is that I doodled on EVERYTHING – my textbooks, files, folders, desk, arms, legs,
pencil case and all of my friend’s stuff as well (mainly pictures of Batman, sometimes Wolverine, the occasional Ninja Turtle). If only I spent MORE time doodling and less time being a robot.
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