Learning in Spite of School: Masks Are Not Curriculum


Payton DiSario

Learning in Spite of School explores the lessons that a young mind can only have burned into them through experiences. Life has never waited for anyone to copy notes before slamming a test down in front of them.

Payton DiSario, Media & Sports Editor

Beware the mask sporting a sharp smile and nefarious eyes. Beware the mask imitating shattered skin and a child’s cry. Beware the mask flaunting blood-red lips and a piercing grin. Beware the mask feigning rosy cheeks and an evil within. 

Halloween has arrived. Dreaded, alluring and terrifying, Oct. 31 is the one day every year it is socially acceptable to be on one’s worst behavior and bear any mask within one’s wildest dreams. It is the day to lose yourself and find yourself anew, all at once. 

I must choose to be something— a princess, a witch, an angel, a devil— but must I pretend I am limited to one day? The spookiest day of the year may feel like the freest, but what of every other day, what of the masks that we wear then?

… not much can hope to be as terrifying as the truth,”

— Payton DiSario

Everyone hides behind something, be it brains, brawn, beauty, beastliness, or any persona society might dare to imagine. For example, the intelligent fear they will never be enough so they try too hard, while the unacademic fear failure so they never try at all. I do it too. In fact, I wear so many different masks I sometimes lose track (but that is high school, right?). 

Each and every person, young and old, grips their masks with white knuckles for fear of letting go. Society seems to be a bit like FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) in itself. Sure, no one would mind actually being themselves, as long as everyone else promised to drop their pretenses as well.

The world is tough sometimes. Millions preach acceptance, but I have yet to meet anyone who whole-heartedly practices the concept (yes, myself included). Believe me, I know it better than anyone. High school is quite possibly the single least-accepting place in existence (besides middle school, of course, those kids are cruel). Then, after graduation and supposedly “moving on,” adults behave just as malignantly. The universe knocks you down and offers a hand, only to shove you right back into the dirt. Still, what might society look like if everyone removed their masks, even if just for one day? 

Now that would be scary. After all, not much can hope to be as terrifying as the truth. Nonetheless, a foreign, striking beauty would shine through the terror. After all, not much can hope to be as beautiful as the truth. 

I may not know my own truth yet and the rest of the world may not either, but this Halloween, I will do my best to take down my finest line of defense. Just for one day, I will do my best to lower my mask, and I challenge the world to do the same. 

Beware the mask professing an uncontested beauty and an all-knowing mind and, most importantly, beware the mask you use as your own perfect disguise.