Piece by Piece: the joy of knowledge


Brian Higgins

Staff reporter Madison Saviano explores hot topics and issues that students face in her weekly column Piece by Piece.

Madison Saviano, Staff Reporter

I never seem to be reading the right things. I read a lot nowadays, and mostly all of it for pleasure. 

What I don’t read is what I’m supposed to. Textbooks, class readings, things of that sort get pushed off until quite literally the lunchtime before. 

Sometimes the reading I do for pleasure actually overlaps with some of the things I should be reading for school, and it’s a quite nice surprise, however it makes me realize just how close to the mark I’m missing. 

There’s something about being assigned something.

Something I would gladly read out of my own will suddenly becomes a chore when someone else wills it for me. 

But I think it’s more than plain defiance or stubbornness, I think it’s something about the school atmosphere, with assessments and all, that drains the pure fun of whatever it is. 

In eighth grade my English class read The Count of Monte Cristo, and it was magnificent. Most of it we read on our own, and despite the book being fairly long, I can’t remember hardly anyone having a problem getting through it. 

We were assessed minorly, with timed writes sprinkled here and there, and the occasional socratic seminar every now and then, but most of it was just discussion. You wanted to be caught up, because if you weren’t then you wouldn’t be able to participate, and for all the cricket responses teachers get in my classes nowadays, participation was something that then didn’t have to be demanded. 

But I know, school demands grades, and the loose grade requirements of eighth grade are not as accommodating as those of twelfth. 

It feels like even at the rate of a minor grade per day we’ve still never got enough grades in the book. There’s just not much flexibility in the school curriculum, I guess. 

But if there were, if there were time to delve into things, to discuss them until the joy of our hearts was exhausted, I think the return would be monumental; realized as a better way to frame learning.

I wish we could meander through the curriculum, especially now that as a senior I’m taking classes I am passionate about, and I wish we didn’t have to cram things into their one allotted day. I know this sounds like a fool’s plea, but it’s really not since I don’t plan on changing anyone’s mind. It would surely be nice, though, and if anyone had the power to make such changes evident in the school system I think an entire generation, and those to come, would thank them enormously.