A New School, A New Perspective

read_more_books.jpg One of Qvortrup’s nine paradoxes Sonia Livingstone discusses in her book, Young People and New Media, is “Schools are generally seen by adults as important for society, but children’s contribution to knowledge production is not recognized as valuable” (Livingstone, 2002, p.7). Sonia Livingstone uses these paradoxes to discuss the importance of researching relationships between adults and children. This paradox struck me personally because I did not feel a great sense of importance in the world, growing up. In school, we were assigned reading and we would respond in four to five page papers which, I felt, were doing nothing good for the world around us. We were not given research assignments that would discover something new, and were given little opportunity for first person research. I believe adults know that for a child’s research on assigned reading, there is no immediate contribution to the world’s knowledge base, but they are severely missing the potential for school to be a creative center for the immediate recognition of children’s talents.

As a child, I loved to read books, often reading three or four at a time and finishing six or seven on my own during theILoveMusic.jpg school year. This, I felt, was for my own good, and would fuel my imagination for a career in the arts. I was a music lover, and I wrote poetry to go along with song lyrics I wrote for my band. I remember one of my friends in high school shared my views when he said, “I could rather work at McDonalds for the rest of my life and play music, and I’d be happy.” This sentiment was because he’d rather quit school and focus on his dream, because he felt that school was a waste of time. I felt the same way, but I could not drop out of school because I also felt a need to achieve something, a degree, which would symbolize all of my hard work. I also thought that a diploma and a degree from college would be acceptable for employers if I ever had the inclination to get a respectable job. A degree can be a daunting task for a high school freshman, but one other thing kept me going. It was a new school I heard about that specialized in the creative talents of children: the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Performing Arts. Finally, I saw an outlet that would give me the opportunity to show the world my talents as a musician, even though I was only a high school student.

My decision to transfer to a performing arts school was important for me because I felt I would fit in with friends who listened to the same music, and used the same media technologies I was interested in. I decided to become a BTMM major at Temple University because of the experiences I had recording in a group at LVPA high school. One day after school, a friend of mine asked if I would like to play bass in his jazz group. Soon it became a regular routine when I would stay after school and play jazz tunes with my three friends: one on guitar, a girl singer, and drummer as well. Later that year, after many hours of practice, I had the experience of traveling to a studio in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania where I worked with microphones and recorded a few songs. I believe many high schools have the potential for students to feel important and make changes in the world, but my experience gave me a new perspective. At my old school, it was easy to feel lost because there were sports teams and hundreds of other social groups which were separated from the larger masses of students, and it was hard to find a place to fit in. I believe most of the adults around us felt that high school was important because we needed good grades, and not because we would discover something new or create something valuable. My parents always encouraged me to stay in school and to get the best grades I could achieve. They, as adults, saw school as something that would benefit society by developing an educated person. They also encouraged me to keep up my interest in music. I believe they saw the potential for me to contribute to society. It is important for schools to be structured in a way where every student can see the opportunity to make a difference in the world.

Memoir written by Kurt Zimmerman
Edited by Sarah Wen

References: Livingstone, S. (2002). Young People and New Media. London: Sage.