This was written back during my last day at P16, the day I’d finally leave school and set off towards my new life and aspirations to become an artist as a career. Years of pressure, being bullied and constant issues with the conforming brainwashing of school would be all behind me. A fresh start in life.
I didn’t want to be a famous artist, I wanted to become an artist and use my talents in the art industry. I’m a background person, I hate the limelight and noise, I wanted to work on my passion to create and build my artistic talents. But school pushed this concept of a famous artist in my mind, they wanted to plant a seed and make me become this ‘famous artist’, so when I come back they’ll have the press and reputation. A tool like many others who could be brainwashed to think they’re special, when in reality the outside world only sees you as a statistic number.
All I ever wanted to be was an artist, nothing more. When I left, I thought I’d finally discover myself and my potential. I didn’t want to become an art teacher as I’m not a social person, I don’t have the skills and ability to be at the front to demonstrate and talk. I prefer being in the background with like minded people working on tasks in an office or studio.
Self employment was going to be my goal like free lance art, but I had to leave that goal as doing self employments work is a nightmare from what I’ve been told. I couldn’t run a business myself as I’m not capable of setting one up and being responsible for multitasking.
Schools out, college I go. Nothing can go wrong, right?
But, the reality was quite bleaker and punishing for me when College turned me down. They didn’t accept me to take on a Level 2 Art and Design course work because I didn’t have the right grades. Despite the amount of work and effort I’ve made to get this far in that time.
Originally I was going to be in the school of access for art and met the tutor there for a meeting, but I was told I was too good for that, but there was no middle ground. I had nowhere to go, I was too good and too under graded to attend. Oh, and the funniest thing was, my paper work was lost by college, which had my personal details on it. The staff lost it, and to this day it was never found……..
After a few weeks I was meeting one of the tutors at the art college where I showed my work off, I was accepted to attend. My dreams nearly in tatters only saved by someone who wanted to see my work.
But during my first year of college I noticed that many who attended didn’t give a damn about the course. They treated it as a social corner, gossiping and hardly doing any work. These were accepted and they showed no respect. People like me who really wanted to work and attend the course were pushed aside for those with ‘grades’ or met the tick marks. I thought of the sick reality that many others in the position like me who were never accepted and didn’t get that opportunity like I did to join. Talented people who might have achieved great things at college, showing the high ups how wrong they were in their judgment.
At college the whole ‘famous artist’ talk was still hammered into me, I would keep saying I wanted to be in the art industry and not be a famous artist. But it kept coming despite my views being clear.
Then in October/ November time I had the news broken to me that my school had made an error, they said I’d passed my Level 2 English after my test a few months ago, but there was an error in the marking. I was absolutely livid. Failure after failure just seems to be my education at that point, and what was worse was that my school advised that I didn’t need to let college know. However, this would make me a fraud, and my school wouldn’t want to admit what they said if college knew about that advice. So after letting college know about the situation they were more than happy to let me continue doing my GCSE English.
By the end of the course I’d achieve a merit grade and an award for the best artwork in the group. I proved to the establishment that I wasn’t messing around, I wanted this to be proof that even someone with lower grades, diagnosed with Autism, and put my head down and work could defy the odds. I wanted the establishment to know I was the crazy bastard that would prove them wrong and make them embarrassed for their error in judgment.
The next two years were punishing for me as I had to deal with more complications with management, support for my needs were not met and my mental health was so bad that I had two mental breakdowns. I had my highs and lows, no friends but the work load was on schedule.
On the week before my hand in date for my FMP level 3 ED, my dog, Leo sadly had to be put down. On my day of handing in my work early, I gave my work in and left quietly and didn’t say goodbye to my group.
I achieved a merit grade with two criteria’s being distinction grade. I was very pleased with the outcome, I wanted to leave college and find place that can offer me work in art.
I found a place that could help, who have the support and guidance for getting me into work. They’ve said they could get me a job in art and support my education.
Today looking back on all that work, the years of education, the stress, depression, anxiety, mental breakdowns and fighting the odds, I wonder if it was all worth it in the end. I’m not a bubble dreamer, I know life is hard and not everyone can work towards their dream work. But I worked hard to get the grades I needed to find work in art related areas, nothing fancy nor high paid.
But I’ve been lied to, used, manipulated and treated with disrespect by the British education. There was nothing in the end, only false promises and being used to help the school, college and other places get a good rep and future relations.
I’m very glad that I didn’t go to uni, if I went there and they had the same issues like school and college, and the tuition fee on top of that, I’d probably go crazy. I was recommended that I should go to uni, but I didn’t want to go down that route.
Education is still worth going to, I wouldn’t get rid of it based on what I’ve said in this post. Despite my issues there were good things to be said. My maths tutor at college was one of the best I’ve ever had, he got me close to passing my FS level 2. Art course was good, I got to really explore my potential and how my art work can be developed and themed using the skills and techniques I’ve learnt during my time at college.
But education is severely in need of reforming and improved for the next generation. Being diagnosed with Autism, it’s been rough going through education with the amount of problems I had to deal with. Even now there’s news about schools being under scrutiny for not providing support nor guidance to help those with a disability to find work.
Where I am now in education is the final phase, the time where I’ve only got a few chances left of getting my maths and English achieved.
If there’s an advice I’d give myself back when I was starting my art pathway in year 9, I’d say leave it and not lot the establishment fill my mind with bs. Treat art as a hobby rather than a job, and focus on areas of employment that could take me on and provide support for my needs. Even if I’m only useful at art, I could’ve grown some other skills that don’t require face to face jobs like customer service, guide and so on.
If schools applied reality rather than branding people as ‘special’ or giving terrible advice that they haven’t researched on, then things would’ve been much more straightforward. Having aspirations and dreams aren’t to be put aside and forgotten, without such things life would be dull and uninspiring. It’s these motivational tools that push us to our best and try harder to achieve our goals, even if they may never be achieved.
However, overusing these things, especially in special needs schools have dire consequences for students in their education and beyond. These consequence that schools won’t admit being in the wrong, as I’ve seen many times before where they try to excuse and avoid reasonable criticism.
It’s like what many students I’m learning with have said, ‘they don’t care about our education nor career, they just want students for the money and rep’.