Some of you may be thinking, “Well, if you pass a test, or become valedictorian, didn't you learn something? Well, yes, you learned something, but not all that you could have. Perhaps, you only learned how to memorize names, places, and dates to later on forget in order to clear your mind for the next test. School is not all that it can be. Right now, it is a place for most people to determine that their goal is to get out as soon as possible.
I am now accomplishing that goal. I am graduating. I should look at this as a positive experience, especially being at the top of my class. However, in retrospect, I cannot say that I am any more intelligent than my peers. I can attest that I am only the best at doing what I am told and working the system. Yet, here I stand, and I am supposed to be proud that I have completed this period of indoctrination (italics – mine). I will leave in the fall to go on to the next phase expected of me, in order to receive a paper document that certifies that I am capable of work. But I contest that I am a human being, a thinker, an adventurer – not a worker. A worker is someone who is trapped within repetition – a slave of the system set up before him. -Erica Goldson
As I sit here trying to cram my studying into an already overloaded schedule, I see someone tweet about Erica's speech. I favorite it for later reading because I am conscious of my time and need to be diligent with its use. But something pulls me to scan the link which leads to a video, under which is another link to the transcript of Erica's speech. I scan it and see, yes, she and I agree. She is verbalizing exactly the conversation that has been running in my head, the "conversation" I would like to have with the administration of our school, the conversation I have been reading about when I see The Kahn Academy, when I get the rare moment to exchange real creative ideas with colleagues, when I read books written by college professors validating what I have been conversant about in my mind and with the large community about an "education" which does not prepare you for a job (its sole purpose) or to be creative and guide you to do what you have the gifts to do already.
Erica's speech made me recall the random notes that I have jotted down to myself, a paper that I am working on about these issues, and lastly, the notes I jotted down only last week on the leaves of a textbook that cost me $93 on sale:
As I went through schooling system when an older student (a non-trad), I realized our education system was more about – yes, just what Erica said – indoctrination. than it was about teaching and learning or about uncovering your talents. The methodology for the majority of classes is pompous, time-consuming and thoroughly wasteful of a true and diligent student's time. Many chapters of the very book I am reading, for instance, bear the distinct impression of having been written to fill space and create the appearance of substance rather than being something one senses will actually be used in real life. Nevertheless, as Erica observes, its a lot of time-consuming reading trying to memorize the contents in order to be ready to regurgitate randomly the answers on a quiz or test geared not to help you learn but to see whether you have memorized the material. And, yes, she is spot on that you will forget most of what you read to make room for the next test or quiz. It doesn't produce confidence that you will be prepared: it produces fear that you might not be able to do it again for the next quiz or test. That's the hamster wheel of a student's life at the university.
I state these things not as a poor student, but a student like Erica who has been a top performer: Top 100 student, winner of scholarships, honors and awards.
I wish I could explore this subject with the essay that it deserves and we could both really learn something….but I have to study for a quiz and a final and write a paper which you will never see and most likely wouldn't gain anything out of if you did.