Melhuish Speech Contest - Grade 11 Winner

Friday, March 18, 2016 - By: Nicole C, Mackenzie ‘17

Over Midterm Break I had the opportunity to visit my old school and meet with a few former teachers. After about a minute of reminiscing, the first question I was asked by my former English teacher was: "So what's your passion? What do you want to do after you graduate?" After explaining to her that I don't really have a "passion" since all of my spare time is spent trying not to fail school, I realized what a terrible question that is to ask a Grade 11 student who had enough difficulty choosing an outfit that morning. Students our age are constantly being asked if we know what we want to do the moment we graduate, and for the most part, our answer is a very panicked "No".

We are expected, in Grade 10, to select classes that affect what courses we are able to take in university. I, for one, am very good at making impulsive decisions, and do not think that I should have been trusted with this decision. Thank God we didn't have to make any choices regarding our careers a few years ago, or else I would have been studying to be a physicist (who also makes movies), and Clare M would have been on her way to studying the fine art of glassblowing. The brain isn't even fully mature until the age of 25, and yet we are expected to make life-altering decisions at 16.

Students are also being taught that our abilities have to be limited to a number. Even creativity-oriented classes such as English are eventually reduced to a percentage of a report card. By the time I finish this speech it, too, will have been reduced to a simple score. Many of us recently received our SAT scores, and in the words of Jordan Weide: if you have control over your SAT scores, you have control over what university you get into, you have control over your career, you have control over basically your entire life, because apparently one standardized test is able to come up with a score that completely summarizes our abilities.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who gets asked by family members if I want to have kids when I grow up. They don't even ask questions relevant to my age, they just go straight into "How many kids do you want?" "What will their names be?" "Will you be married to a wholesome Christian man with a stable income and have at least two children?" I don't even know what I'm going to have for breakfast tomorrow, let alone what I want to name my second child. My parents even get upset when I tell them that I might not even want kids, because apparently, at the age of 16, in supposed to have decided that yes, I want to have a family someday, even though I have no idea whether or not I will be able to support one.

Nearing the end of Grade 11, it's hard not to think about what comes after our final year. We tend to get caught up in the whirlwind of universities, SAT scores, and pestering family members, and start to worry about where we're going. Sometimes, though, it's okay to just say: "I don't know."

 Nicole C, Mackenzie ‘17

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