Not What You’d Expect From a Valedictorian

By Bryan Toporek — August 09, 2010 1 min read
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When Erica Goldson delivered her graduation address to her fellow classmates at Coxsackie-Athens High School in New York this June, her peers heard a disenchanted perspective on the American education system, according to

Goldson took the stage not to boast about her own accomplishments, or to assuage her classmates’ fears about the future. Instead, she was busy lamenting that her status as valedictorian wasn’t a reflection of her intelligence, only that she was “best at doing what [she was] told and working the system.”

This is the dilemma I've faced within the American education system. We are so focused on a goal, whether it be passing a test, or graduating as first in the class. However, in this way, we do not really learn. We do whatever it takes to achieve our original objective...
School is not all that it can be. Right now, it is a place for most people to determine that their goal is to get out as soon as possible...
When I leave educational institutionalism, will I be successful or forever lost? I have no clue about what I want to do with my life; I have no interests because I saw every subject of study as work, and I excelled at every subject just for the purpose of excelling, not learning. And quite frankly, now I'm scared.

It’s a pretty amazing perspective for a just-out-of-high-school graduate, don’t you think?

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.