Follow Your Personal Dream
Literature and the arts claim importance for student success
By Enrique Olivo, Grade 11 student, Neil McNeil HS
Lately, this little story has made its way through the halls of my school.
One evening, a young couple was out having dinner at a local restaurant. . Midway through the meal, the man abruptly began to experience a heart attack Panicking, and fearing the worst, the woman cried out, “Is there a doctor in the room!?”
In response, a man sitting alone in the corner piped up, “Yes, I’m here!”
He quickly ran to her side and said, “I have a PhD in English literature; what can I do to help?”
Needless to say, the story has an unfortunate ending for the young man. But apart from this story’s likelihood of winning a few laughs from those who hear it, it not-so-subtly asks its readers the striking and important question: “Do you honestly believe that certain academic pursuits will get you nowhere?”
In fact, within the world of high school, there seems to be an indisputable hierarchy of subjects that are perceived to be the most important, the most respectable, and the most likely to make you happy. At the top of this hierarchy are the sciences, mathematics, and languages, then below those are the humanities and social sciences. At the very bottom sit the arts. God help those who might entertain the idea of pursuing a trade. Whether by intention or not, both parents and teachers delineate and impose this hierarchy upon many students, in the name of guiding them to success. . I believe that this approach is fundamentally detrimental to students’ progress.
If students are raised with the idea that the only way to attain success is by becoming a lawyer or a doctor, how will they feel if their real desire is to spend their lives being a writer, apainter, or abaker? Will they suppress these feelings and grow to live their lives pursuing an illusory road to success? Will they spend (as many of my friends are doing right now) countless hours devoted to studying subjects for which they have no passion? In my experience, the answer is yes.
It is sad to see fellow students forcing themselves into career paths simply because their parents told them to, and because nobody in their life cared enough to give them the simple advice that they should follow their dreams. What is even sadder is seeing parents almost disgusted by the fact that their child isn’t living up to their own vision of success as a result of choosing to be something they truly want to be.
Why spend a life doing something you don’t love? If you want to become a poet, start writing. If you want to become a horse groomer, go right ahead. The current perception of the “road to success” needs to be broadened for the sake of all students. And if you want to get that doctorate in English literature, be my guest.