Friday, May 4, 2012

Polly Want A Cracker?

It’s not uncommon for students to feel as if they just need to mock the lessons of a teacher to pass the class. However, that will not cut it in most of a student’s classes as they get older. It is almost too easy to fall into that trap, or “cage”, as our Unknown Author words it in the “Polly Want A Cracker” essay.
                When a child starts to develop, they learn my repetition. For instance, singing the ABC’s over and over or counting to ten. Even when children are first learning to write, they begin by watching and repeating the pattern that is drawn for them. Sometimes they even just start by tracing the lines on a piece of paper. It is very easy to assume that it is easiest way to begin learning, as a child, is by the process of repetition. The first thing I could compare it to is the “Simon Says” game, or “monkey see, monkey do”, which is often the case with small children, as they find it very easy.  However, it is not the best process of learning to teach because it is so susceptible to becoming a habit. Younger students will find that this process will get them through most of their classes, but as they move up in the ranks of education, repeating what is said, shown, or written, is not enough for a student to get by.
                It can be hard for a student to transition from the process of learning by repetition, to a new process. As students move ahead in their education, they find that they actually have to research topics and do various studies by themselves, thus “teaching themselves”.  I believe this new process can be hard for individuals because they are used to doing the minimum that is required to get by in their classes. I also believe that some of this is due to teachers who don’t encourage their students to do things on their own, but instead they just hand them the exact information that will be on their tests. Students then just memorize the information enough to pass the test and then throw the information out of their memory because they believe they will no longer need it. I believe some of this laziness is caused by lack of motivation.
                How can students be motivated to learn if their teacher is not motivated as well? I remember some of my experiences in grade school with teachers who were not motivating at all. This made me wonder, “If they aren’t motivated to teach me, why should I be motivated to learn from them?” Then there were always the teachers who were exciting and passionate about the subjects that they teach. This made learning very fun and I found myself actually interested in what they were teaching. I was so much more inspired to learn from these teachers that anyone could tell just by looking at my grades. I found that when I was motivated in class, I was more influenced to dig deeper into the subject I was learning and ultimately find out more information that would always put a polishing shine on assigned work.
                In the reading the author states that, “Some classes required me to be a parrot.” This statement I feel is very true, especially with the teachers who aren’t motivational. The teachers, who weren’t motivating at all, were the ones that I found expected their students just to memorize papers that were handed to them. As long as students have the given information memorized for the test, these teachers would give them the passing grade. I find this process of teaching to be very insulting to the more inspirational teachers as well as the students who genuinely have a love for learning and want to go home every day feeling like they have learned something new in every subject.
                After re-reading the “Polly Want A Cracker” essay, I can interpret being “a parrot” in school in a more positive way. “Sprouting [your] first set of feathers” is like the first step of preparing yourself for the future. Becoming a teenager in middle school can be terrifying and many don’t want to show their true bright colors for fear of being rejected or made fun of. Being yourself can be particularly scary in high school, but everyone develops differently, just like a parrot.  People doubt who they really are and hold back. Stress in high school can also add to that to that pressure. Losing the bright feathers can be a metaphor for not being you and not doing the right things to become successful such as “laziness and procrastination” as the author puts in in the essay. Others, however, thrive to succeed and go the extra mile to be successful and soar with their brightly colored wings into adulthood.
                Some students fear their own voice. Afraid to speak up, they are scared to grow their beaks and develop a whistle. They are scared of large classes and are often intimidated by individual attention, making it hard to focus on what they should be paying attention to such as the lecture or notes. Instead they watch the other students develop beautifully and learn to fly and eventually “open the cage”.  I believe this is when most individuals start to realize the mistakes they made and that they let fear of being noticed interfere with their education and their own personal development. They have to start all over and get to know themselves so they can be who they really are for the whole world to see. Eventually, after working through their own self-destructive habits, they will be able to soar with everyone else. Learning to be interdependent can be a good solution to these fears. Classmates can be coaches in our lives and help us through things. Some burdens are more easily carried if you share them with someone reliable that can offer good advice. Whether is a school issue, or home issue, if you just speak up, often times we will run across someone who has been through the exact same things and can help and offer inspiration words.
                No matter how fast or slowly one develops, everyone is going to have their own challenges and obstacles to overcome. You can either give up, let the colors on your feathers fade and retire to your cage, or you can show your beautiful colors and put your best foot forward. I believe that this will help an individual truly get to know themselves. By challenging ourselves every day, we learn more and more about our inner self. If we don’t set goals for ourselves, don’t try, or just don’t care, then we are just going to fall into the pattern of just existing, just going through routine and not getting anywhere in life. Parrots don’t learn to fly unless they actually spread their wings and fly. However, if we are always trying and working hard then we can become part of anything we set our minds to. We can fly anywhere our wings carry us.  Are you someone who doesn’t give up? Do you learn from mistakes or failed attempts? Or do you let it bring you down instead of building from it and trying again? No matter how hard we try, just believing in yourself, giving yourself that extra push and being confident that you can do anything as long as you try and try again, is what makes us emotionally strong as individuals.
                “If you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’ll keep getting what you’ve been getting.” This saying is a great example of the mindset that we should have. If you don’t like how your life is, then do something different. Find what makes a difference and work at it. Become the best person you can be and never settle for less. Don’t settle for living your life in a cage and never learning to fly. Instead, learn about you by challenging yourself every day in different ways.  If you become too comfortable in one area, move on to the next until you get comfortable with that. In my experiences as a performer, someone once told me “If you get to the point when you aren’t nervous before you get on stage, then you need to move onto something else that challenges you.” So find ways that you can constantly grow as an individual. Education never has to stop in one’s life unless they choose to stop learning. Always keep your mind open, learn something new every day and don’t let anyone or anything get in your way of flying high and becoming the most successful person you can be.

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