My parents once told me something that i’ll never forget; it wasn’t an illuminating conversation by any means, but something in there really struck me as important. So here it goes.
“Nicolas, what you don’t seem to understand is that education, in school, isn’t as much about knowledge as it is about testing capability”.
Now, at first, I wasn’t overly bothered about that sentence, but the more I repeated in my head, the more it started to make sense. What my parents had just tried to explain to me was that education wasn’t bothered about whatever it was you were learning about. It was, on the other hand, the capability you had to retain information. This information, not knowledge, would later be regurgitated on an exam paper.
The examiner would mark you an A, a “Job well done”. You’d go home, happy to show your beloved parents how good of a machine you were.
The positive cycle of good grades to reward works very well, you see. Between the ages of 6 to around 12, most kids will do well at school to make their parents proud, that lasts at the very best until puberty hits. After that, most kids don’t even ask questions, they just work. Why do they work? We tell them it’s mandatory for a good life later. What most people forget to tell them, and that’s the twisted mentality of it is that you don’t have to get good grades to be successful in life. That’s simply because grades don’t really matter on the grander scheme of things later in life. And so, the teenagers just go on to work, not asking questions. And that’s the biggest problem in today’s generation of teenagers/ young adults ( which I am part of). They just don’t ask themselves enough questions. Some don’t question anything at all!
I have this feeling that academia is lying to me. They can do as they please, because to be honest, I was put there against my will. That might sound unfair and ‘spoilt’ but it’s the truth of it.
I’d like to spit on secondary education, but i’ll abstain from doing so for about a paragraph. Here’s why. I’d always like to present the ‘other’ side of the opinion before presenting my own. This allows me to solidify my argument. There is, obviously, a good side about education, and it’s precisely this that most people fail to realize, until after they have actually finished with school.
Secondary education, and in essence, your diploma, should be thought of as a key. In today’s society, whether you like it or not, you need to be better than everyone else to get more than everyone else. In a way, this makes sense; reward accomplishment, disregard failure. It’s a great tool for any society to use, it motivates, encourages, and it works! The education system, especially the secondary education (High School) is used as a determiner for whether or not someone is capable of something. In our case, it’s the capability to work for our society. For example, a typical office job.
So, to contextualize this a bit; you work harder than others, get better grades, thus getting you a better diploma, which qualifies you for better universities and thus gets you a better job. But, what if, in some way or another, you just aren’t made for the current universal education system? What if you were actually full of potential but a primitive system such as today’s education system was actually preventing you from unleashing the intellectual beast that you are?
What if we rewarded effort instead of accomplishment? That’s what most teachers told me, “effort is just as important as good grades”, well then I guess it turned out just fantastic for me.
From a young age, i’ve always questioned why I had to do the work I was imposed. It just didn’t make sense that I had to complete the homework, work for it, submit it, never to be seen again. I’d be left with a minor euphoric feeling of accomplishment that generally didn’t last long, and that was about it. And so, to that effect, I didn’t work. I just didn’t see any use in it, and the advantages greatly outweighed the disadvantages.
From about Year 3 (Grade 2) all the way up to Year 12 I didn’t work. I completed the bare minimum in order to pass on to the next year. That was it. About every week I would go through ‘the horrible time’. In short, I would get shouted at, grounded by my parents for not working. At first, they would just shout at me. As the years went by, they started lecturing me more, which had no better effect than perhaps a small push in motivation, though only temporary. That went on for quite a few years. To that day, I still don’t quite understand the full purpose of education, but i’d say i’m pretty close to figuring it out.
All that to say, children, or more specifically, teenagers, are not told the truth about the use of their education. I believe that they would be much better off knowing why they’re working on a useless assignment in the first place, rather than giving false excuses such as ” It’s to prepare you for the world” which is utter complete bullshit if you ask me. Regurgitating a piece of knowledge ( if you can call it that) learned the week before will NOT, I repeat will not help you in any way for your future career.
I’ve learned from first-hand experience that the brightest minds in a school environment ( as in, people who are at the top band grade wise) are by far not the ones who are the most ready for the ‘real world’. That’s simply because the ‘real world’ doesn’t function like primary and secondary education, that’s because it’s an outdated system. And i’m quite sure that when Napoleon created this fantastic system, he didn’t have 2012 in mind. It lacks diversity.
Education is about brainwashing, sheep herding, and just plain segregation. When our education system fails to recognize the different types of intelligences, it fails to recognize diversity, and inherently discriminates people who are not mathematically intelligent. Or whose short and long term memory is not their strong point.
Education is unfair, whether you believe it or not. But then, I realized something, i’m one against millions, literally. How can I possibly fight against this. And I think that’s what the majority of people do realize, and I thank them and despise them for it. They just push through. Because that’s what you do, you push through. And eventually, if you push hard enough, you’ll find your way, no matter what kind of intelligence life greeted you with. That’s the redemption.
Let’s change the education system, and together, we can change lives. For the better, trust me.
Now go grab a drink.
Before you do though, I’d be interested in knowing what your overall thoughts are about Education, higher education, university, and others. Thanks!
Credits go to Sean MacEntee for the photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/smemon/4984567320/