No Time, No Energy

The high demands of school can crush a student’s desire to pursue their own academic endeavors.


photo by D. Crickets

Oftentimes, a student’s genuine love for learning is stuck under suffocating workloads.

Kristen Kinzler, Junior Class Editor

I used to be the girl who always had a book on her. Throughout middle school and my freshman year, I read upwards of two books a week. I would stay up late, lost in a story, and every spare minute I had between my classes involved opening up my current novel.

This is exactly why I was horrified when, while recently reflecting on 2019, I realized I had barely even read three books the whole entire year, not including those I was forced to for school.

I know exactly why I suddenly stopped reading books, and it wasn’t because I fell out of love with their magic. I just could not bring myself to focus on one. I found that, as school became more difficult, I had neither the time nor mental energy.

You could say I was lazy, and I’m sure that was the case sometimes, but the root of my problem went much deeper than that. I suddenly didn’t want to read for pleasure any longer. My brain became more and more drained. Between long school days and hours of homework, I hardly had any free time, and in the few spare minutes I could scrounge up, I didn’t care about cool new worlds or daring and adorable characters. All I wanted was to mindlessly scroll through my phone or sleep.

My situation isn’t unique, and it goes to show how much damage the colossal workload and high demands of the modern education system can inflict on students. The kids who are already drowning in stress have no time to do the things they love, which just makes the issue worse.

In addition to taking away the few activities that students enjoy, the burden of school makes it impossible for them to explore their own intellectual endeavors. In a world where resources are plentiful and learning can happen anywhere, it seems like a shame to go to school all day, come home, and then study all night. Our whole world is constricted within the four main walls of NASH. 

I suppose having less time for the things you love is a natural, albeit sad, part of growing up. Maybe I’m naive, but I really don’t want to accept that. I still feel way too young to be this burdened by responsibilities.

Actually, right now is the time in my life when I think I need more books. I need more time to explore my own interests. I need more experiences and lessons and information. I cannot afford to stop caring about learning at the age where it is the most vital. 

Perhaps the worst part is that when I take a look at the long path ahead of me, it’s just as relentless. College. Internships. Probably graduate school. A job right after graduation.

I mean, technically, that is the life I’ve always pictured for myself, or at least it is the one everyone said that a person like me should have. But when I think of how it is unfolding, I become resentful. When will I get to take some time off? When will I get to spend some time reading books and experiencing adventures and finding myself?

In a world where resources are plentiful and learning can happen anywhere, it seems like a shame to go to school all day, come home, and then study all night.”

I miss the joy of learning. I miss reading into the early hours of the morning simply because I could not get enough of the story. I miss being interested in museums and fun facts. I miss having the energy to absorb every new piece of information that was thrown at me. I miss my sense of curiosity.

In a way, I feel like something was taken from me. It’s as if the school system took the genuine, wonderful concept of learning — and the happiness that a young girl associated with it— and morphed it into something competitive, incessant, and ugly.

And for me, obviously, my lack of wanting to learn manifested itself in no longer wanting to read, which only caused me to spiral more. The activity that I was too busy and too exhausted to do was also the very one that had always grounded me.

It’s ironic, especially because I could easily argue that books have taught me more than all of my traditional schooling combined. I learned grammar from reading so many novels. I learned vocabulary, because I would look up each and every word that I didn’t know. I learned how the world outside my own little bubble works.

But books taught me things that are somewhat less tangible, as well. They taught me sympathy, compassion, and understanding. They introduced me to people who walk all paths of life.

I don’t think I would be half of the person I am today if I hadn’t read so much as a kid. I certainly wouldn’t be the same kind of writer. I’ve spent my whole life consuming the styles of hundreds of different authors, and it’s why I am able to form my own voice today.

So, of course I hold resentment towards the system that slowly crushed my love for learning. I can study for a test or write an academic essay, but the pure need to just take in as much information about the world as possible is gone. When I was curious about everything, it all seemed so exciting, but high school has turned that excitement into dread.

It’s our school’s responsibility to provide its students with a well-rounded education, and that means allowing for learning outside of the classroom. Schoolwork should not dominate our whole lives — there is so much wonder in the real world, and kids deserve to experience it.

We don’t need any more students. We need more learners. And yes, they are completely different things. People only have a love for learning if it is, in all forms, encouraged.

I’m trying to get back into books, and I make myself read as much as possible. I’ve already read more books in the first half of January this year than I did all of 2019. I’m tired, and the words have certainly lost some of their appeal, but I need to read in order to feel like myself. So, if I have to stop studying a half hour early so I can get my book in for the day, I’m okay with that.

Perhaps this is the kind of small rebellion that is required in order to break the pattern of a suffocating and demanding system. We need to give ourselves permission to do what is typically frowned upon by our school’s culture — take a break and do something simply for the joy of it.