Monday, February 2, 2015

The ONE "Educational" Experience that Actually Meant Anything to Me

When I was a sophomore in high school, I decided to redecorate my bedroom. I was doing Broadway diva star theme with lots of stars and sparkles. The only problem was that I wasn't very good at making stars. I could draw that easy five-pointed star without taking my pencil off the paper - the kind that most people know how to do - but I didn't know how to draw a perfect star, a star that I would use as a permanent bedroom decoration, without a stencil. I did use stencils, but they weren't always the size that I wanted. I just needed to be able to draw a perfect star at any size, even if I didn't have anything to trace.

I was sitting in geometry class one day, spaced out as usual, while we were going over how to draw a perfect polygon. We used a formula to calculate the degrees of the inside angles of the polygon, and then a protractor to draw it. I hated having to draw stuff in geometry class. It was way more work than just doing equations and it required way more attention to detail (yuck!). The only drawing I liked in geometry was drawing the diagonals of shapes. I had no idea what the point of it was, but drawing diagonals was easy for me, required no effort, and was fun because they made pretty patterns. The diagonals of a pentagon always made a perfect star.

And then it hit me. Right in the middle of class. If I had a formula for drawing a perfect pentagon, and then I drew the diagonals of that pentagon, I could make a perfect star! I could draw perfect, store-bought-looking stars in any size I wanted! I was absolutely thrilled. I ran home that day and made tons and tons of stars. Tiny stars for my lampshade, medium-sized stars for the mirror, and huge stars to act as stepping stones on the floor, leading to my bed. It was the best bedroom-decorating session ever. My room looked amazing afterwards. And all because I had the formula for a perfect star.

I will tell you one thing: If I had actually been taught how to draw a perfect star, like in an art class or something, it wouldn't have meant so much to me. That perfect star was precious to me because I'd found it on my own. Sure, I learned the formula in class, but math class wasn't about decorating your bedroom. We were never explicitly taught that we could use those polygon formulas to draw things that actually mattered to us. I stole information from the forced-education system to use for something that was purely fun and non-educational. Sort of like if your grandparents send you money for schoolbooks and you use it to buy porn instead. My perfect star really felt stolen, not earned. That was why my perfect star meant so much to me.

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