TST is pleased to present our Devil’s Advocate Scholarship to four students who have extraordinarily shown how compulsory schooling has dampened their creativity and inhibited their potential. Each recipient was awarded $666.


Prompt: What do you hate most about school?

First of all, I don’t hate school… only sometimes. I hate getting up in the morning, I hate
to put on my clothes and brush my teeth. Only to go to school!
And when I get there, the first thing I have to do is work!
And I have to sit next to Edwin the bully.
Here is something I hate: having to write whatever the teacher wants you to write. I like writing a lot but only when I can write what I want. For example, last year, my teacher wanted me to write about animals. I chose to write about penguins but I really wanted to write about ninjas. I had to do all this research about penguins instead. It’s not fair.
I also like reading a lot but the books the teachers want us to read are not very cool.
Another thing that’s hard is that I am in the Dual Language program and that means I have to do math and science in the first class and then Spanish in the other.

At recess, we only get about 20 or 30 minutes. That is not a lot. At my summer camp we have an hour to play outside.
I wish we could leave school early but instead we have to work for 7 hours. But sometimes it feels like it takes 12 hours. That’s too much and then I don’t get a lot of time to play.
I also don’t like the lunch there… only some days. Most of the day I don’t want to eat the food and then I’m hungry.
Another thing I hate is how many minutes our tests are: one hour and 30 minutes! I feel like that’s too many minutes, and my brain gets so tired.
Last year, I was bad at basketball because of Edwin, so this year I’m gonna try to be better than him. So I hope I won’t hate it as much.


Prompt: What creative or constructive things would you have accomplished if you hadn't been forced to go to school?


Total failure
A disgrace in the eyes of education
You reach for a book but your hand is slapped away;
The adventures of Odysseus have to wait,
Because idiots don’t get to choose their topics.

Are you worth teaching?
You hear the words but you don’t listen,
Your mind must be somewhere else.
Instead of memorizing the important dates relevant to the Ottoman Empire,
You watch as Apollon shoots down the mighty Python with his golden bow.
Silly child,
That will never be relevant in the real world.
Get medicated
So that you might stay on task.

If you aren’t going to try you might as well leave.
But that's not allowed,
Is it?
So arrive early,
And stay late,
Until you have improved
And earned your rest.
Study until your eyes blur and you can no longer see straight/
Study until the trials of Achilles are forgotten,
Buried under the importance of the carbon cycle on modern life.

So close
Yet so far.
You have forgotten the pleasure of dancing with the nymphs;
Just a few more hours until you can see them again
If you can stay awake that long.
Nymphs won't get you into college,
But mitosis will.

A moment of relief.
You are no longer completely looked down upon,
So why stop here?
You’ve almost made it
And the curse of Arachne isn’t going anywhere.
Just a little more…

The first to lose.
Why couldn’t you have taken the extra step?
Where did you go wrong?
Review just once more
So you don't lose points on mindless mistakes.
If you had only studied a little longer.

The little smiley face in the corner of your paper
Is your reward.
The tales of Zeus and Hera could never compare.
With a sigh of contentment
You reach for for Hesiod’s Theogony
But you hesitate;
Because the myths aren't going anywhere
And there is another test next week.
There will always be another test.



This piece would be inspired by how compulsory education made me feel. I'd always dreaded heading into the school entrance, feared to face the teachers and the administration staff who seemed too overjoyed over punishing their students for minor mistakes and their "out of control" behavior. For years, I would be put into a constant schedule that I had to follow and is still something I couldn't shake off after graduating, I had no will of my own since I felt as of I was being controlled. Having to ensure I was on my best behavior, having to mask the symptoms of being neurodivergent, and listen to every order the administrative staff and teachers gave me. Being forced to choose an academic path since they claimed it was the only option and that my true aspirations are meaningless and would never get me anywhere. Yet, having followed every rule and overworked myself in order to meet their expectations, the administrators and teachers who promised me they would assist me in my education would be the same who would drive me into a depressive state and talk behind my back. All I wanted was support and to be reassured yet, all I received was harsh criticism and snarky remarks.


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