Have you ever felt like you knew more about how to correctly bubble in a scantron than you knew about reading and understanding your own feelings? Peer Educator Miriam Medina discusses some of the problems within our K-12 school system and how they affect our own emotional development as we go through childhood and reach adulthood. Read on to learn more about her advocacy for a more holistic approach of schooling!


by Miriam Medina

Dealing with emotions is difficult, both dealing with our own emotions or other’s emotions. When emotions are communicated to us, they can be hard to maneuver, hard to address, or hard to resolve. There are many many factors that contribute to our difficulties in dealing with emotions, one of them being is that we weren’t given enough opportunities to practice dealing with emotional situations. This directly relates to how we learn in our K-12 education, as well as what we learn.

Coming from the perspective of a first generation and low-income student, public education entailed growing up and learning in schools that fed us information concerning math theories, colonized history, how to write a 5 body paragraph, and the physics of the world. In the end, we had a curriculum that was dictated to us. Never did that information address mental health, interpersonal and intrapersonal emotions, or how to deal with stress. We were expected to go through this education and aspire to be something big, without knowing ourselves and our peers on a holistic level. Even our creativity (art classes) was dictated through assignments and letter grades. Very rarely, were we asked to think of ourselves, our emotions, our lives, and how we as humans coped with it all. We learned through a curriculum that did not prioritize giving us the tools to explore who we were physically and mentally. Instead we were bombarded with state exams, class quizzes, and the pressure to succeed in it all; we were set on an academic path. It took me a lot of self-reflection and analysis and critique of the educational system to realize the imbalance of it all.

So where are we now? At the university level we still struggle with courses and professors that don’t seem to realize that we have other identities than just that of being a student. We are sisters, brothers, partners, daughters, sons, workers, organizers, leaders. We have other pressures than just our academics. These “other” pressures are helping us become who we are as much as the academic pressures are, yet they are disregarded and invalidated. That is how this system is molded, created, and intended. Due to our lifetime involvement with this system, we now find ourselves struggling to communicate and understand our emotions and others. For now it is helpful to be critical of the system, deconstruct it, and realize where it is wrong, as well as taking our mental health into our own hands, and slowly begin to become in touch with ourselves and others. One thing is certain though, the system of education NEEDS to be modified, revolutionized to be more holistic.