WARNING: This post goes against social conditioning and is particularly lengthy: read if you dare.
As my high school career is slowly coming to an end (I graduate June 11th) I have found myself particularly reflective on the value I have received from high-school.
I end my high school career with a sub-par 2.5 G.P.A ,having never received a prestigious academic award, and a quick glance at my attendance record would reveal numerous absences (OK 32 days just this year.)
If I listen to what I have been socially conditioned to believe:
Sub-par grades + no awards + poor attendance = the end of my life
I beg to differ.
Chasing The A
For most of my life (along with millions of other students) I have been taught to believe that the secret to a successful life is to get outstanding grades. Slowly over the years however, I have discovered this premise to be completely false.
Luckily, over the past few years, I have been fortunate enough to immerse myself in a variety of empowering perspectives and thus have come to understand that we are 100 percent responsible for our life.
We can be as happy and as successful as we choose to be. Our attitude, not our grades, determines our success.
I have been fortunate enough to recognize that education goes beyond just the classroom. Life is our greatest mentor. Unfortunately, I’m one of the lucky ones.
Myself, along with millions of other students, have failed to apply ourselves, not because we’re not smart enough, not because we don’t care about our future, but because we are tired of being dictated by a system of letters.
Continually brain-washing students into believing good grades are essential in living a successful life, has had some disastrous consequences:
Students are more stressed then ever. Cheating has become increasingly rampant. Students spend an excessive amount of time obsessing over getting perfect scores (after all they’ve been told they won’t have a job if they don’t.)
In fact, a classmate of mine routinely stays up past 2 A.M in order to stay a float. Excessive? I think so.
What’s even more depressing about our current education system, is that it leaves millions of “average” students behind. Millions of kids with incredible potential are left to die (educationally speaking) never realizing their true potential.
Many of my current classmates, each of whom could literally change the world, are paralyzed by fear, and are instead choosing the path of security: That is get good grades. Get a job. Be happy. Unfortunately that’s rarely how it unfolds.
We can live our purpose today.
I’m not suggesting that our current education system doesn’t do any good. It does teach us the basic necessities. However, much of what we learn in school is not practical in the real world.
Where are the courses on blogging? Where are the money management courses? Where are the classes dedicated to eradicate poverty? Where are the classes that help us find our purpose?
Our current education system places too much emphasis on the A and not enough emphasis on unleashing the promise that lies in each and every one of us.
Education Through Reading And Experience
One of the most startling shortcomings of our current education system, is the lack of relevant reading. We are forced to read (A.K.A sparknote) ancient text that we often find difficult to understand.
All this does is encourage a distaste for reading.
I’m not suggesting that ancient texts such as Shakespeare don’t have any value, however what the students read should be up to them.
“But wait! Then they will just be reading the latest trash.”
To which I reply ” Yes, but at least they will be reading.”
Our top priority must be to instill a passion for reading. The progress of humanity depends on it.
A number of my friends routinely say ” I hate reading”
And I always reply, ” You just haven’t found the right book.”
For reading to complement education like it needs to, the books we read must be relevant to us. Not our teachers, not our parents, but us. Each book should be likened to a puzzle piece completing our soul.
Our current education system is putting too much effort into things that don’t matter. Busy work. Perfect grammar. Memorization. All of which does nothing for us 10 years down the road.
Over the past 4 years I have read close to 100 books. Only 15 of those books being school related.
Those 75 books (OK I’m rounding here) I read outside of school completely transformed me. My philosophy, my attitude, who I am today, all stem from the numerous books I devoured.
Education is about unleashing one’s confidence. Education is learning from failure. Education is growing from experience. Education is discovering your passions then pursuing them.
Education is not rote memorization. Education is not analyzing books that have no meaning to you. Education is not wasting your time on subjects you hate. Education is not being paralyzed because your afraid to fail.
Having attended an international school in Shanghai China, I can honestly say I have learned more from bringing running water to a rural village in China, traveling to Russia, and making friends from around the world, then I ever have in a classroom.
Education is meant to be enlightening. Reading and experience are the key.
Finding Your Purpose
Education is meant to help us find our passion, our purpose in life. Unfortunately, our current education system fails miserably.
We’ve been told:
You have to go to college to be successful. After that you have to go to grad-school. Make sure you get all A’s or you will fail.
Instead of embracing education many students (including myself) have adopted a mindset to just survive.
We’re so used to being told who we can or cannot be, many us don’t even know who we actually want to be.
All the education in the world is worthless if you never unlock what makes your heart beat.
Again, I have nothing against college or even grad-school for that matter. In fact I believe both can offer tremendous benefit to our being.
The problem lies in the fact that we’ve been told that you have to do this, you have to do that, in order to become successful.
Who says life has to be a linear line?
The traditional life time line:
High School: College: Grad-School: Job ( you most likely hate): Retire: Die
High School: Find Your Purpose: Love Your Job: Live your life. Die Happy?
The latter sounds more enticing to me.
Education is all about growth, it’s about experience, it’s about creating authentic relationships. It’s about being human. It’s about connecting with humanity.
Our current education system is inherently flawed. Times are changing. We must stop obsessing over becoming “book smart” and instead focus on unleashing our passions.
Without living out our passions we just add to the clutter of the world.
When we choose security, we sacrifice our passions, killing part of us in the process.
I have tremendous faith that the answers to today’s problems of the world: poverty, war, and disease, will be solved by the youth of today not because they are smart but because they follow their passions.
Enough Is Enough
I know I speak for millions of students around the world when I say:
We’re tired of being told we’re not good enough. We’re tired of doing mindless work that only adds stress to our lives. We’re tired of feeling unworthy just because we fail to meet the expectations of the A+ poster child.
We’re tired of being told who we can or can not be. Shouldn’t we decide that for ourselves?
We need to be inspired. We need to be encouraged. We need to spend time doing things we love. We want to change the world.
Is that too much to ask?
So many students fail to realize their potential because a simple grade tells them they have none. They receive a D and thus feel they are worthless and have nothing to contribute to this world. This defeats the whole purpose of education. Education is meant to build not destroy.
In no way am I suggesting getting good grades is a bad thing; that would be foolish. Getting good grades is not the problem. Allowing grades to dictate one’s life is.