The problems within America’s education system are similar to Wawa Pam’s attitude at 2 a.m. on Fridays: No one knows how it got so bad, or quite how to fix it, but we all love talking about it. The brightest minds in America from politicians to educators and other liberal arts majors are exploring and debating these issues to seemingly no avail. Perhaps their lack of success stems from an inability to grasp the main problem in our education system (i.e. the most detrimental issue and the one that required a solution two decades ago). The following issues are wrongly considered top priorities:
1) Lack of funding for schools: Come on, when has this ever been an issue?
2) Not enough dedicated teachers: No.
3) Wealthy Americans have access to better schools: Don’t blame the wealthy, you socialist.
Are you stumped? If not those three or ones from a similar vein, then what is the most pressing issue?
Let Jaden Smith spell it out for you: “School Is The Tool Used To Brainwash The Youth.” The 15-year-old son of actors Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith tweeted this epiphany in early September, just as millions of American youth began heading back to their subpar schools. It is tempting to write off his thoughts as angst, but don’t do so too quickly. The Karate Kid starts each word with a capital letter, indicating his seriousness and, frankly, he could have a point.
Learning and brainwashing are two sides of the same coin. There is no finer example of this than the College of William and Mary’s General Education Requirements, affectionately known as GERs and un-affectionately known as the worst thing ever. How many times must I suffer through math and science related courses before I know I that don’t care? I believe the first five minutes suffice, but the College believes four courses do the trick. Is this for my benefit? Or is this a part of some larger scheme to brainwash me? In addition, what is with all the tests and quizzes? Attending class is clearly enough to learn the material, yet professors are attempting to drill this knowledge into our heads every chance they get. Are you starting to smell the brainwash in the air? I do not have all the answers, but Jaden Smith is starting to make a great deal of sense.
The young starlet followed his initial education tweet with two others equally as thought provoking. Smith claims, “If Newborn Babies Could Speak They Would Be The Most Intelligent Beings On Planet Earth” and “If Everybody In The World Dropped Out Of School We Would Have A Much More Intelligent Society.” More words with capital letters — Jaden wants your attention, folks. Okay, Jaden Smith, we are listening. In fact, if I am going to listen theories about life and education from any 15 year old, it’s absolutely going to be the son of Will Smith. Growing up in Hollywood with a multi-millionaire superstar as your father definitely humbles your opinion and makes you a very relatable person in all facets of life. In this regard, I feel comfortable bestowing the title “voice of our generation” to Jaden Smith.
As a literary and cultural studies major, I find his aforementioned tweets to be quite relevant to my course of study, as the tweets philosophize about culture and society. I am not sure what that says about my major choice, but I do know that Jaden Smith is again revealing truths. Have you ever stared into the eyes of a newborn baby? Have you ever noticed how the baby stares intently back at you? That baby is studying you, critiquing your every move with fresh eyes. If you need someone to speak to candidly, look no further than a newborn baby. Without learning social norms, white lies do not exist and this baby’s honesty is 100 percent real. Your breath stinks, you’re ugly, and that outfit has got to go; a newborn baby will not hold anything back. Furthermore, did you struggle with your ninth grade biology homework? Imagine having a newborn baby as your tutor; fresh out the womb, this baby can remember the inside of the human body like it was just yesterday. Jaden is right; the benefits of a talking newborn baby could change lives. Lastly, his final tweet questions our definition of the word “intelligent.” Do we define intelligence as finishing a doctoral thesis or knowing the difference between a staple gun and a handgun? We should define intelligence somewhere between those two extremes, and dropping out of school is the only way to ensure this balance. Why study abroad or take classes in a field you have never considered when you can just quit altogether? Jaden Smith, your brilliance is wise beyond your years.
Even if you’re daring enough to disagree with the voice of our generation, it would behoove you to seek out and listen to various theories about education. This way you will learn what your own concept of “being educated” is, how you will get there, and perhaps how you can help others get there. I set my standards to those of Jaden Smith’s, so goodbye William and Mary. You can find me somewhere in hospitals listening to the murmurs of newborn babies. Intelligence is upon me. Follow Jaden on twitter @officialjaden (or don’t, whatever).
Zoe Johnson is a Confusion Corner columnist and consults babies for life advice all the time.