1.17.2014

we are valuable like silver and i will not let you tarnish her any further.


let's play a game called "education." everybody sit down, put your things under your desks. i am ms. you will never know me but by my surname yet you will fear me more than your mother. in my class you will not speak lest you raise your hand, you will not switch seats. you will not wear hats or clothing with profanity, you will not pass notes. fighting will not be tolerated, cheating will not be tolerated, late homework will not be tolerated. funny how this game starts with telling people what they cannot do. this has always been the way i've seen the public education system.
i've been homeschooled my entire life. since i was three and a half my world was figuring out what i could and focusing on what i could do with it. reading, spelling, penmanship, history and math and it's never been solely about my marks on the tests it's been about my understanding. but the first time i took the PSAT (when i realized my education had to have a name), i gave myself over to the statistics of american students. when i saw my math wasn't up to par i started to worry. i stopped understanding formulas and started hurting to the answer key just to make my mom happy. i still haven't finished geometry. what a wake-up call that must be. despite this my educational experience hasn't been that bad because i've been learning about what it takes to become someone extraordinary. unfortunately not everyone's had it that easy.
let's play a game called "realization." elementary school and it's predecessors are all about creativity. we take attractive learning concepts and tack them to our minds like pinterest boards. we're encouraged to draw nonsensical shapes and apply them to our fantasies but by middle school it's not cute anymore; 
it's time to get into the real world. by high school you need to know who you wanna be but "yourself" isn't an occupation worth paying for.
it wasn't until recently i found out college students were dismissed as absent if they're not in their assigned seat. i started to pickup on when teachers said "everybody" and not "everyone" because suddenly we became numbers and not human beings. it wasn't until recently i realized when my friends said they didn't want to go to college they didn't mean "i don't want to go to school anymore," they meant their inability to "measure up" was a chemical foaming out of the mouth of a beaker. like a paper chain of snowflakes we have come to believe that only a specific, identical kind of people are cut out for university. so many letting go of degrees like "only so much more of this hell and i'm free" and the problem with this system is that it's teaching a generation of brilliance that education is something can finish!
dear public education system: let's play a game called "i am stewing with anger because my best friend is scared to death of reentering the halls she'd like so much to cave in on themselves." stop talking pythagorean theorems an start planing the formula for personhood. people wonder why teens aren't equipped to launch. maybe it's because we're being instilled with fear rather than passion. maybe it's because the system is so fubar we're becoming damaged in an environment where we should be manufactured for decency; forget greatness! we've been told to stay silent so long we forget what it's like to SPEAK. taking on so much pressure you' think we'd be formed into diamonds when we feel like dust.
dear public education system - no, actually, you are not dear at all. the dictionary's definition of 'system' is a set of things or parts working together to form a complex whole. dear education let's play called "where did your foundation go?"
force-feeding us opinions unfit for adoption, injecting inferiority into our veins, embodying the belief that beauty only comes in air-tight packages; shrinking down passions to focus on a core curriculum ready to blast into supernova. and then you tell us to solve for x as if we have all the variables.
math has never been my strong-suit but if i have to give the formula for personhood i will tell my best friend that, helayna, in a world that embraces the attitude of peasantry, you are a green and i will tell you that until you can't look in the mirror without seeing royalty. and despite the abandonment you've experienced here, my name is jo and that is not a synonym for leaving, just like school is not a synonym for learning, in fact, i heard someone say he didn't want students killing themselves on campus because he had a reputation to uphold. we hey mr. educator, instead of joking around telling people not to kill themselves because it'll make the school look bad, tell them not to kill themselves because it is not what they were born to do.
i hate that a six-letter word has become a trigger warning so powerful people beg for death like a dog begs for dinner. i want to understand how each of you feel when you come home. "how was school today?" "fine" no i can't believe that anymore because my friends my friends are wearing down the barriers between layers of skin as means for coping. if school was fine tell me why i'm afraid to approach the people i hold most dear; tell me i've had to make physical lists of reasons why my friends can't leave this earth yet; tell me why if school was fine tell me why souls are dying and bodies are destined to follow suit? who are you that she gets so afraid her lungs forget their purpose? my generation is stumbling through life with their deficiency wondering my help is so beyond reach. dear public education system, let's play again where you loathe your vulnerability because you haven't been nourished with confidence.
but what do i know? i'm a homeschooler; i should be wearing jean-skirts cooking meals for my ten million siblings; i should be reading books that censor the idea of what goes on in the "real world"; i shouldn't even have a voice!
but maybe this is bravery. it's not a 'one size fits all' kinda thing. it comes in different combinations like cowboy boots and aviators; snapbacks and lipstick; leather and metal; crop tops and cardigans; compression shorts and nirvana shirts and man oh man, maybe the reason why we wear profanity isn't because we condone it but because we are braving contact; maybe we need a man to tell us to cover up because ours was too busy to notice; maybe we need to be admonished because it's still better than being hit; see, teachers, we want you to understand us more than our parents don't so if you want us to stand out, don't sit back, lead us! you've tested the ground before us, said "it's fine! come out!" and we want to believe you took this job for a reason. maybe we don't need you to hold our hand and recite motivational passages but if you are human too, if you understand what i'm going through, allow yourself to guide me onto the pathway of success
dear public education system: let's play a game where we pick up our broken selves and be taught what it is to become whole.
now i've solved for x. do you understand why?

it's called slam poetry because we are valuable like silver and i will not let you tarnish her any further.
it's called slam poetry because sometimes, bravery screams.
and bravery is not meant to be kept inside.

26 comments :

  1. I wish I had something insightful to say since this was pure brilliance, but all I really want to say is
    YAS QUEEN. SLAYYYY

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  2. Wow. This is powerful, and right on.

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  3. goosebumps. this is SO powerful. no words. just silence.

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  4. this is so deep and meaningful and brilliant. but i cannot, no matter how many times i read it over, understand the last sentence. i know poetry is meant to stand alone, but would you mind quickly expanding on "now i've solved for x"?.

    gosh, i sound silly! i just want to understand all your words because they are so beautiful and amazing.

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    1. well, the piece is called algebra. in algebra, you are given several equations in which the goal is to "solve for x." many people are given that tasks these days (in fact, most of them are in school), but none of them feel like they're doing it for a good reason. i used solving for x as a way to show that we, as young people, are missing so many valuable parts of education by spending so much time solving for something that's not real. i used "solving for x" as a way of saying "i've solved the problem" or "i've figured out what's wrong with this system." does that make more sense? :)

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    2. definitely. :) it's just that in australia we just say "solve x" and not "solve for x" so i didn't understand, haha :) this is stunning, and thanks for the explanation.

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  5. Jocee, these words (and the way you spoke them) were really powerful and thought-provoking.

    Thank you for being brave.

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  6. If this doesn't go viral and change the world I will be stunned.

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  7. Its really well written, but I'd encourage you to work on your breathing and not yell so much, it really takes away from those words when you are shouting them so fast. Work on your Dictation and you are well on your way! :)

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    1. thank you so much! this is all so new and i'm super nervy so i'll take all the advice and constructive criticism i can get. :)

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  8. This is just really really good. "Now I've solved for x" GENIUS. !!

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  9. holy crap. like i don't even know what to say. basically, you and your words are just, woah. it sounds so cliche` but i love this so much. and that last punchline >>>>>
    write a book, okay?

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  10. Thank you. This is good.

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  11. This, as I've said before, is so perfect and everything. Just everything. Jocee, i absolutely love everything about this. Please please please do more of these because they are perfect.

    xo,
    rn
    www.rachelnicoleblog.com

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  12. You need to join Tedx or write a book or do your own thing. Just never, please, never stop being brave and vocal about it. This is brilliant.

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  13. i just went to a slam poetry event in dc (as in, i literally just walked back into my house) and i saw this! i'm so glad you tried it, you are really good, joycee:) i cannot wait to see what else you come up with, girl!

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  14. This is EXACTLY what I've been thinking for a very long time. I showed it to my mom, and she thought you were brilliant.
    This is amazing, Jocee. Amazing.

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  15. so, this is great, and I commented on your youtube about my feels. but it's so accurate though. uh. I love your passion and your heart and everything.

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  16. OH MY WORD! Girl, that was amazing!! Major props!

    Kate

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  17. Oh my gosh, I'm like addicted to this video... it's like my favorite thing to watch.

    xo,
    rn
    www.rachelnicoleblog.com

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  18. I'm speechless - every single student should watch this video. That's all I can say.

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sometimes i do not understand why you guys like me so much, but the fact that you do (and that you keep coming around) makes me happier than you can even imagine.

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