The 2 full years of their firstThe 2 full years of their first

The current construct of the education system today has become the foundation of human mental development. According to a study from the University of Michigan, the average American spends 4 hours a week on homework and 36.5 hours a week in school. Pair that with the average of 180 days in a school year, (according to the National Center for Education Statistics) a child will spend roughly 2 full years of their first 18 years of life either in a classroom or working on school-related work. Thus, the influence of education is very much so visible. Education is seen as the deciding factor to whether someone is deemed qualified to become a valued component of society. There are several purposes behind the education system and it heavily varies from school district to school district but the underlying idea is to teach individuals and in-turn create a passageway for those individuals to learn.Considering that and regarding Mary Louise Pratt’s Arts of the Contact Zone, the educational system has become an epitome of a community living in the bubble of a Contact Zone.Understanding the concept of a community begins with google’s definition as “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals”. A classroom consists of a community of students all with the goal of being able to learn along with the teacher who assists with teaching them. The term “contact zones” was first coined by Mary                                         Thompson 2Louise Pratt in her piece Arts of Contact Zone. She uses this term “to refer to social spaces where cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in contexts of highly asymmetrical relations of power, such as colonialism, slavery, or their aftermaths as they are lived out in many parts of the world today” (Pratt 3). And with the exception of those with pure native american descent, America has cemented its status as a nation built by immigrants. Thus the classroom has become flooded with students of all different cultural backgrounds including myself(a product of Cambodia and Costa Rica). Communities and Contact Zones aren’t always prevalent in the classroom, especially in my earlier years of school. My past classrooms were as Mary Louise Pratt describes as “imagined communities”. Whenever I walked into a class and all the desks and chairs were carefully organized into a large circle, I knew that we would be having a class discussion. At the time, my biggest challenge then was how to restrain myself from not falling asleep because I knew what was to follow. It would always begin with the teacher pitching to us the importance that everyone should try to at least engage a point in the discussion but that goal never came into fruition as only a few students would drive the discussion into deeper waters while the rest of class found solace in silence, hoping not to draw attention to themselves. Those who felt they had the highest confidence would take greater risks in promoting their ideas all while urging those equally participative to do the same. That isn’t to say it was always the same characters as some days I would be right there challenging the ideas of others, while on other days I was the                                         Thompson 3latter. For everyone is prone to their strengths and their weaknesses. What I did not know then was why I had not taken the time to look for any type of new ideas for the silent majority. Why I hadn’t seeked to encourage them to elaborate further on the occasional times they did share. For when came time to write the final essay, some of the highest scores not only came from those with the loudest voice but also from the quietest. The best example of that was none other than myself. There were times when a class discussion came around and I did not have the highest confidence in my craft and in-turn refrained from sharing to avoid any embarrassment. Only to receive an “A” on the final essay. How many were there like me who felt the same way? Perhaps also containing  trong ideas about certain concepts, but not realizing their worth as soon as the louder voices.In 8th grade English, we had a curriculum on debates. My attitude and perspective towards school was rather negative and foolish. I absolutely loathed and despised middle school  and approached my final year of middle with the concept to do just enough to get by and performed my debates with little to no effort behind. I didn’t practice, rather I went out and just “winged it”. Four years later and I’m back at familiar situation. Debates, but in senior government. Walker Percy relates to this situation in his piece the Loss of the Creature. “It may be recovered by a dialectical movement which brings one back to the beaten track but a level above it.’ (Percy 4) Percy promotes his stratagem of the Familiar Revisited. For I have returned to the familiar (the debates) but after four years of developing my knowledge, perspective, and                                         Thompson 4character, I am now at a level above from when I was a 14-year old kid without a care in the world.Returning back to the main topic, what came to follow in the debates of my government class gave me the most visible view of how prevalent contact zones are in society and the educational system. My teacher gave the class a disclaimer that the debates would temporarily remove us from a safe zone and that views, no matter how controversial, would be welcome. The first debate was the concept of abortion. Person A argued that abortion should be legalized while person B debated that abortion should not. Within the blink of an eye the debate turned into chaos after Person B rebutted the claim that abortion is not the same as murder by stating that in the early stages of pregnancy a fetus is still dependant on its mother and in that it is not truly a separate living organism and therefore not murder. The entire class was in an uproar. I simply observed as everyone began stating their feelings as well as the kids that would snicker to themselves whenever they would hear the a viewpoint they disagreed with or simply deemed foolish. After a couple minutes, the teacher would regain order and continue on with the debates before eventually concluding with a class vote. This process would repeat with every single debate that followed.”All the students experienced face-to-face the ignorance and incomprehension, and occasionally the hostility, of others…Along with rage, incomprehension, and pain, there were exhilarating moments of wonder and revelation, mutual understanding, and new wisdom – the                                         Thompson 5joys of the contact zone.” (Pratt 17) Unbeknownst to me at the time, the classroom that day with the introduction of the debates became a prime example of a contact zone as everyone with their varying cultures that have constructed their perspectives was able to express their ideals and clash with those distinct to their own. All while as a community, we had the underlying goal of being there to learn. Taking the time to evaluate and assess, the current education system has and will forever have varying viewpoints that conflict with each other but it does not fail in preserving a community of teachers and students to learn and maintain social spaces for cultures to meet and grow from each other. To which I see as the backbone that maintains our educational system.