Motivation, or the lack of it

by jonnahzkennedy

Today I took an Algebra End of Course exam benchmark in place of the horrible, ritualistic procedure of the state of Texas’s attempt at categorizing it’s students between those who can cheat and those who cannot. Or something of the like. Still, yesterday I felt nothing, and today I feel nothing of this examination. When I entered the room, took my assigned seat at the back of the room, I still felt nothing; wear others were battling worms, butterflies, and moths in their stomachs, I felt hollow, a tree stripped of all it’s insides, yet still content, and not in pain, but simply in something like a suspended feeling of awe. The test was administered to us, and I set my water bottle and three books on the floor next to me (Poe’s Complete Works, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and A Storm of Swords), eagerly awaiting the moment in which I would be able to crack each of them open and read. Of course, it was not that easy. 

The test was a conglomeration of graphs, words, and numbers, tables and formulas, and my mind was blank, for I had not studied, stupidly, for I had been obsessed with Bryan Cranston and his incredible performance on Breaking Bad. O what a fool I am! Still, when we were given our formula charts, my mind was at ease, and what was more, I was diagonal from a good friend of mine who happened to be incredibly smart (there are many incredibly smart people at my school, unfortunately and somewhat mournfully, I am not one of them, I assure you, or maybe you have already come to note as much about me) and so I found myself on the side of the fence that knew how to cheat, of course, this good friends habits to lean in over his paper overcame him, and only ever so often was I able to catch a glimpse at his scan-tron, and what I fond was that I was either an idiot or I was just looking at it wrong, though I believe the former is more true than the latter. Still, I proceeded to test, but again and again my mind wandered from my paper to come story stemmed form a superfluous situation, and my head was filled with thoughts of how utterly useless the endeavor was, for we were originally supposed to spend the day in the gym doing as we pleased. So I did what would only calm me, which was to write, and on several problems (even the front page!) I wrote small snippets of stories, one was about a sailor, another was about a king’s return to his garden, only be murdered by a nyaid who marries his son, a description of cupcakes at a party or a ball. 

But something that has never happened to me before happened as I went about that test, and I am very much afraid and somewhat pleased to say that, I did not care. Quadratic Functions and Linear Equations were the furthest thing from my head, for I was thinking about how I was going to edit a story I was working on, or another story I had started this morning about an insomniac, not of math. Yes, this is a terrible thing, I know, and I knew when I entered in random numerals for a gridable problem that my Algebra teacher would be furious with me, for it was obvious that I thought the test a jest instead of a determining factor of how many tutorial sessions I would be having in the future, and that I thought it not as a true benchmark, but busy work because our authorities believed we would be too rambunctious (huh! A class full of people who read, kept to themselves, and were far more fascinated in the talking of higher mathematics and things of the like; a class of people who were most soft spoken, and people who were only there because the course before Algebra was already done and they did not want to repeat it. Yes, what a great ruckus we would have caused!). And I suddenly knew then what my Algebra teacher saw in me, or the lack thereof, that had caused her to sigh and finally give up on me (I cannot deduce when she gave up, it is just obvious as she comes to me with a slight drag in her voice) which was motivation. 

But this could be no further from the truth! Why, I had plenty of motivation! I was motivated each and every day to sit down and put off most all other things and writer and write stories that were of little importance to the world besides that which was written upon the page, and I was so motivated that I would deliberately spend time afters school, one on one with my English teacher to secure my work a place in publishing records, when there were obviously ‘more important’ things to be done. Yet, I lacked motivation. But…but did I lack motivation only in this area? Yes, yes I did. Sometime between this week and last, I came to a realization that most of all the things that I was learning here had no purpose, application, or concept. Before you scoff and write me off as some horrible Holden Caulfield, I do not mean these things too literally. Algebra had no purpose to me as, in what reality is it absolutely necessary for me to know the Quadratic Formula or the slope of a line? It is almost laughable the examples that my Algebra teacher gives of Algebra in real life, for they are not everyday things, rather, things that you only think about if you think too hard! Rockets taking off, dolphins shooting out of the water, the arches of a churches windows, or the St. Luis arc! Hah! What absolute bullshit! Excuse my french, I am only digressing and ranting further, but still. What application did the things I learn bring to my life? There was a time when there were people who needed to know this, they wrote down their equations because they believed that the world would always be as it had been, and yes, there are men and women who still use these equations, but it is not the goal of the general populous to build some great architectural structure, a catapult, or some other contraption that requires such formulas and equations. Tush! believe I want it or need it, wasted space and paper, how I see it most often. 

Sigh. I step down from my soap box though, for no longer is my voice of shouting tone, croaking and deflated, I am in need of water. What my goal has been today is to show that, motivation is key in all things, but specifically, you must know yourself and know what you are willing to be motivated for. If you are like me, or in some way like me, know what you will be motivated for, because you will find that you are able to procure the best path for your future if you know what you need to get there, and you know what you believe in, and by knowing what you believe in, truly knowing what it takes to get there, not the predetermined knowledge of a society that aspires to predetermine your life. For lack of a better reference, be Divergent. 

Note: I wrote this simultaneously as I began to read a Forbes article about student motivation, which I think is on the tip of what I believe I was trying to get across in this post, so if you would like to see more where I was coming from, if it was not obvious in this post, then feel free to take a look at this article, I think it’s great and really gets in to the problem that I have with school. 

Cheers, 
JZK

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