The 11th grade math teacher says "you better learn this algebraic equation, you'll need it in the real world when you need to communicate to aliens how to cook potatoes to the mathematically perfect temperature, and remember to serve them with a side of ground up cucumbers seasoned with light salt". Not to say I don't believe in aliens, but you really think I'll want to be talking to them about potatoes!?
Anyways, that about sums up my take from the 13 years of education from elementary to my AA degree. Math was more than a foreign language to me, my brain chooses to work in a bit of a different way, and scraping by with C's on my tests left me feeling like an idiot, especially for it being the subject I spent the most time practicing and studying. (And yes, I mean 13, I'm not that bad at math..I completed the first year of my AA during high school so I only had another year after graduating Astronaut High to get the degree). Sure, for mathematicians and the like, I'll take a wild guess and say math is pretty important for them. But not everyone is a mathematician, not everyone is any one thing, that would awfully boring.
In my own words school is full of a time where you learn a bunch of temporary junk you have to cram into your head for one test and then dump it out to replace it for more senseless information clogging that little brain of yours. There were few classes, three to be exact, where I had great teachers that taught me some really amazing things: psychology, history and literature. It was a treasure to learn something that actually felt meaningful to me.
And with that said I know get to the whole point of this post...
Ever since I started photography school my outlook on education has completely changed. I'm FINALLY submerged in everything I want. I love going to school. I love my assignments. I love...wait, let's stop there for a second (not that I don't love my professors and a ton of other things, because I completely do): I LOVE MY ASSIGNMENTS. They aren't something I do for class and be done. They help shape and expand my thinking, they have helped me explore different paths to help me find the subjects and ideas I want to explore with my photography OUTSIDE of school.
I'm still finding my niche to just what exactly I want to focus on in my exploration as a photographer, but my professors and the assignments they give are helping me to narrow that question down without me feeling boxed in to an unchangeable decision. I started off the first semester documenting decaying buildings and quirky reflections and saying that I would never take portraits of people, to then second semester: self-portraits and nature. And now In my third semester I've fallen in love with portraiture (something I'm still discovering but it's a very very exciting new path for me, maybe I'll write about it next week!)
I just hope more people can begin to listen to themselves. You don't need to change to fit your environment, find the environment you want. I guess math has a meaning to me after all...solve for X. Find what you love, discover what you're good at or really enjoy learning, and chase that. For me it's art, but there's a million other niches ready for everyone in the world to find, if we only simply look.