Still one of my favorite pieces after three years.
BFTP #3 - Education is Overrated
For: Coquitlam Now My Generation Column
Written: March 2007 (grade 12)
I’m writing this from one of the many computers in one of the many libraries at Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario. It’s a nice, quiet campus town; so far I haven’t met anyone who isn’t affiliated with Queen’s in some way. Yesterday I was in downtown Toronto for a tour of Ryerson University, the primary destination for all of Canada’s aspiring journalists. Tomorrow, it’s two hours north to the history-hallowed halls of Ottawa’s Carleton University, where I’ll take yet another three-hour tour and ask yet another hundred or so questions and then hop on a plane home so that I can get to school bright and early on Tuesday morning having only missed one day of precious grade 12. The amusing aspect is that my dad shelled out close to 25000 Air Miles for me to take this “trip that will determine the future of my life’s future,” as he so eloquently put it, and I’m using it to write my Now article.
It’s a funny thing, education is. From the get-go, it has been pounded into our heads that in order to succeed, we must have our education, and for those who truly desire fulfillment (and money), it is necessary to have a degree, if not three. “Education is key,” they tell us. Well gee thanks, but to what? To penthouses and diamond rings and fast cars? To success? To happiness? I could ask that question all day, but there’s really no point until the root of the question is exposed. Specifically, what is education?
My life, both past and present, and soon to be future, has revolved, does revolve, and will revolve around education. Everything learned in school up to this point has been to prepare me for a further education. What I’m learning in school now is how to take notes, how to take exams, how to write a proper thesis essay so that I can make it to university and hopefully not bomb every single term paper thrown my way. Heck, what I’m writing right now is to gain clip experience for my entrance portfolio to get me into journalism school. But that still begs the question: what is education? I’ve heard it described many ways, key, necessary, and the secret to happiness being among the most prominent. Personally, one word for me sums up our society’s view of education: overrated.
There was a time, back in the glorious days before money was invented, that education was learning, and learning was beautiful. It was pure, a display of the natural inquisitiveness of man to explore and discover more about the world around him. Today, that purity is recaptured by the innocent curiosity of a child whenever she turns over a rock to look at worms or tries to fathom how nine pennies is worth less than a dime. That, my friends, is learning, and what education is meant to be.
Alas, all good things must come to an end, and as soon as society’s standard can get its claws into our young, another good crop of inquiring human minds is brainwashed to believe that education is what the system teaches. I might be wrong, but something tells me that knowing the critical point theorem of the application of a derivative will probably not help me out very much in the future unless I plan to go into engineering, which I don’t. We learn what is taught, but more often than not, what is taught is boring and utterly pointless. I’m no malcontent teenager who is ranting to try and get out of school; on the contrary, I’m a motivated and intelligent student who is doing exactly what education was born of in the first place, but is now discouraged – I’m thinking for myself.
In about two and a half months, I’ll be graduating from high school, at which point I’ll enjoy two months of sweet liberation from “learning” before I once again head off to a still undecided post-secondary institution to pursue my further education. I’ll shell out big bucks to listen to professors lecture about things that I don’t want to learn about, all the while thinking that I’d rather be somewhere else but at the same time knowing that my degree is more important. After all, that’s what the employers are looking for, right? That little piece of paper that says you’ve done your educational time. Pardon that reference to jail, but for some reason, it seems to fit.
I’ll wrap this up quickly, because there are a lot of Queen’s students who are impatiently waiting for the computers, March being term paper month. Even now, looking around at the shoulders hunched over from backpacks literally bursting at the seams with textbooks that contain unpractical jargon about practical subjects, I can see the curious kids that these students used to be. And I can also see myself in their exact place a year from now, my shoulders hunched over from the weight of my backpack, waiting for my turn at the computer. Waiting for my turn at an education. Until then, I’ll keep learning as much as I can.