Why Post-Secondary is a Futile Venture – and Why You’ll Do It Anyways (Part 1)

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not the angst-ridden kid that sat at the back of the room during middle school, or high-school, or what have you.  We all know that guy, the one who boasted about how many shots of vodka he could take in five minutes, grunted a lot, and would enthusiastically oblige to show you exactly where that sixth piercing was located if you were naive enough to ask.*  Thankfully, none of those people that I knew would ever willingly browse WordPress, so my lunch money is safe for now.  But the constantly peeved kids are another topic entirely.  There were also the people that simply never showed up to class, handed assignments in late, and were just generally irresponsible concerning the last few years of their education.  I’ll let you in on a little secret though:

I was that girl.

Let’s begin with a little story.  In my graduating year, my final transcript showed that out of 191 school days, I was marked absent for 98 of them: just slightly over half.  My only regret now reflecting upon this number is that I didn’t at least make it an even 100.

I know what you’re thinking, because its what all my frustrated teachers attempted to iterate to me time, and time again:

“You simply won’t do well if you don’t attend class; you cannot expect to learn the material without instruction.” – every teacher, ever.

This was possibly the best thing they could have said to me, (for me).  You see, while their constant badgering and blithering phone calls never inspired me to attend, I viewed the wording of this statement as a challenge.  How few classes could I attend throughout high-school, and still manage a grade point average high enough to get me in to post-secondary?  I was, and still am, one of the laziest people I know.  And not only that, I was bored.  Going to class was a chore, and I didn’t even feel like I was accomplishing anything.  If I could achieve the same thing as many of my peers in half the time, I didn’t see what was wrong with that.  And I did.  On that same transcript, the grades column showed a GPA of 4.0.

This is not meant to be a brag; I am attempting to illustrate, using relevant, anecdotal evidence, a very serious point here.  After the fundamentals of learning have been established, school is essentially pointless.

And yet, knowing this, I went on to complete a year in a Bachelor of Arts program at a well-established university before calling it quits in unadulterated disappointment.  So as it turns out, I’m not very smart after all.

I was told what everyone was told, that “university is different.”  No, it isn’t.  In class sizes?  Yes.  In terms of mandatory attendance?  Yes.  In expectations?  Sometimes, yes.  But these things are so trivial that they function as selling points instead of useful information when considering post-secondary.  If you really stop to think about it, how different has your post-secondary education been compared to the education you received in high-school?  The teaching methods are nigh upon exactly the same.  We are taught to attend, look up, read, look down, take notes, look up, listen, check phone, check Facebook, tune out the Professor, (its fine he doesn’t care), read more, memorize, terms, terms, terms, flashcards, get sick, stress, regurgitate on the exam, you got 50, stress, its fine you’ll do well on the report, just remember to leave out your insights because those are worthless, and let’s face it, probably wrong.  This was my university experience when I attended, and after speaking to many of those who have since continued in that same program without me, I find that they corroborate it.

If you truly want to know something, you will learn it.  A few of the most successful people I know to date taught themselves photography, multiple languages, programming, and much of what’s considered business.  And they encourage others to teach themselves, too.  They learned a majority of what they know by taking it upon themselves to go out there and find the resources they needed, and the result is that they’re doing exactly what they wanted, in a quarter of the time and money it took the person with the degree.

Some would argue that critical thinking has been abandoned in our education, but I would counter that it was never introduced in the first place.  They don’t teach us to be engaged with what we’re learning; to challenge; to critique; to be the dissenting voice; to avoid “group-think”; and then they wonder why we’re bored to tears.

Those same students I mentioned earlier not only agreed with me, but went on further to complain about how they feel they’re wasting their time and money on their education.  How can we expect to learn anything if we find no value in what we’re doing?  No one is enchanted with education at the post-secondary level, but they should be.  We are given the choice to study whatever we like, but not how to study it, nor even the knowledge that there are other methods of study, and the result is an underwhelming, predictable, and stagnant system.

And yet, you might be reading this while you should be studying for that midterm tomorrow.  Or perhaps, god forbid, while you’re in that three-hour lecture you were forced to take at eight in the morning because all the other time slots were full.

I told you you’d do it anyways.  And despite everything, I am too.  Keep an eye out for part two, and I’ll tell you why.  As always, I remain,

Insufferably,

 

WildeAboutWords

*Disclaimer: This is not to say that all people who have piercings, or can handle substantial amounts of liquor are under-achievers and delinquent rabble-rousers.  I know of at least ten multicoloured mo-hawk sporting individuals whose grades in high-school were significantly better than mine, and who consistently showed more initiative than I will ever be known for.