School and Education

We are all surviving.

All of us.

But how many of us are living? I am a STRONG supporter of education. I’m all for broadening your horizons and viewing the world from a perspective different from yours. The thirst for knowledge is what separates you from animals, the development of your thoughts makes YOU special. I firmly believe that the more you know, the more you enjoy your life. In the light of my university entry exam, which will take place in 2 days, I am determined to share my views on the educational system.

First, I’d like to point out that I’m a fairly smart person, at least I am considered to be one. I taught myself English, because none of the teachers could ever explain things properly. I can write in two alphabets, read, speak and communicate in more than 2 languages. This is average. It would have been impressive 20 years ago, but not anymore. Now I need to take it to the next level and go to university. My brain is apparently not developed enough. Let me tell you something about school. I am in my last week of my last year attending this institution and to the last days, I hoped that I’ll learn something. This didn’t happen. Everything I know, I learned on my own. I studied for tests and the minute I handed them over, the information had already started to evaporate. So many small details, so many dates, equations and percentages that I’ve forgotten.

What did I do in school? Sleep. How did I get such good grades? (I am one of the top people in my class) I have no idea. Everything I’ve done to pass is just show up. There is this thing called common knowledge, which is not taught in school, but has gotten me through years and years of sitting around and counting the minutes to the end of the class. I don’t know what happened and where did this gap come from. Every day, instead of doing my homework, I’d turn on Animal Planet or Discovery channel, or I’d browse through the international news on the internet. I’d feast on the foreign languages, the colors, the animals, the facts, the history, the universe, the lives of people living in other countries and cultures. I loved taking knowledge in. I still do.

This is why you can imagine my frustration, when I had to wake up every morning at 5 am to go a place with 4 blank walls, sit there for 6-7 hours a day, listening to people, who tell us things that are boring, uninteresting and dry. Every time I tried to bring a piece of me into the lesson, I was laughed at, made fun of and brought down. Then I would just copy my homework from Google and I’d hand it in, without even reading it. And that’s how I got the grades. When it comes to tests, we all got the standard blank form that we had to fill and all of our individualities were graded as if we are the same. I didn’t like that. Every teacher says that they want to see YOU in your paper, but they really don’t. They want to see a reflection of their opinion presented by you. They want to see if you’ve understood what they’ve said, instead of how you think. This is why literature analysis is very subjective.

But what about the people, who are bad in math? Do we all really need to know about calculus, when some of us want to be journalists or actors or whatever profession not related to math? Why can’t we be divided into groups, where everyone has an equal chance of succeeding at what they’re good at? Not all people understand numbers. If you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life thinking that it’s stupid. (Einstein quote here). I think we are all smart. We all have the same brain capabilities, but school is a straight line, which knows no straying, you can’t do what you enjoy, because there is a curriculum that you must follow. This doesn’t result in more knowledge, I think I’ve seen that for myself. This results in no knowledge at all. You can’t force a person to learn what he doesn’t want to. I can tell you all about Argentinian butterfly breeding season and very little about trigonometrical functions. Does that make me more stupid than the person, who understands sin and cos? Just because his area of understanding is in the curriculum and mine isn’t? Think about it for a second.

What are we doing with education then? Why are we not giving it to those, who want it? And if I want to make a change for myself and the world, why don’t they teach me how to do it? Why don’t I know how to start my own business, but I know how to apply for a job, where I would serve for someone else’s benefit? I don’t want to be what you want me to be. And why do we attend university? To get a good job? To make our parents proud? Or is it because nowadays everyone is doing it? Because it was possible some 20-30 years ago, to make it without a college degree. But now your chances of succeeding in life without attending university are close to zero. This is why life is so hard for college/university students. The tuition fees are growing by the minute. Books, rents and food are also getting expensive. You get yourself neck deep with a student loan at the age of 18. You later realize that your degree now is not doing anything for you. Best case scenario is that you won’t be one of those thousands upon thousands of unemployed graduates. And if you get a job, the first 20 years of your life you will be working for someone else, “getting experience”, when all your salary goes to paying your loan and rent. Is this living?

Are all those sleepless nights at the library with an energy drink in hand, really worth it? I’m pretty sure you’re going to survive anyway. What I’m saying is not “university is shit”, but think for a second what you want to do with your life and how education helps you do that. University doesn’t make you smarter. You make yourself smarter. So if you’re studying for your exams at the moment and you don’t get accepted – remember that you’re more than your grade. You’re worth more than some test score tells you. Not everyone should be graded in the same way and that’s what’s fucked up with society. You are ALWAYS good at something, even if you don’t know what that is yet. And if something brings you joy, you don’t need school to find it out. School doesn’t define you as a person. It is merely the face of knowledge, which is a whole body. Go explore.

I, for one, am going to apply to university and hope to get in, as I am still not completely bonkers and I know that just having that degree I’ll get will bring more “prestige” to my name if I can even call it that. I know that people will take me more seriously with a degree stapled to my resume. But in reality, within myself I know that my getting though another 5 years of education won’t change me as a person. I won’t get smarter. I won’t get funnier, I won’t get any more professional. I’ll still be watching videos of screaming goats on youtube. University is just a way to help me get to what I want in life. I hope I can understand via my studies, how to be independent and not try to work for someone else. I know that everything I need, I will learn once again, by myself, but at least I will have a good environment, where I can do it. After that, I will try to pursue my own dreams and goals. So should you.

It’s not enough to survive. Live.

//Stef

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2 comments

  1. If you want, you can e-mail me- I can help you navigate through all that crap. And school in BGto may be cost efficient for undergraduate degree, however anywhere in the world now you would need to have a graduate degree, not for prestige, but to be considered for a good paying job. Good luck, Deni

  2. yeah, I’m not going to study in Bulgaria, but I’m talking about “education” in general. You’re not nothing without your degree, even if your employer says so.

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