I topped my class for close to 20 years, both school and college. I got there by studying hard.
When my friends were out playing in the sun, I was inside, studying.
When my friends were getting wet in the rain, I was inside, studying.
When my friends were going to the movies, I was inside, studying.
When my friends were hitting on girls, I was inside, studying.
When my friends toured new places and met people from far off lands, I was inside, studying.
After 20 years of missing out on the most important experiences a human needs to go through in order to become a well-balanced individual capable of handling his own out in the real world, I naturally ended up a cripple — deficient in social skills, unable to deal with change in environments and new situations, out of touch with the world at large.
In the last 7 years since graduation, I’ve been striving hard to fill the many vacuums left behind by the one-dimensional existence of the first 20 years of my life, and it was during this period I realized how useless in real-life all those formulae and graphs and historical references were. Is this guy I’m about to hire to work for me going to do a good job? Will he steal and sell company info? Can I trust him? Nope, the equations for capillary action that I memorized by rote back in day after 6 long hours of repetition and writing practice, didn’t help one bit. Meanwhile, my friends who didn’t give a lick about grades and never bothered with integration and differentiation are leading more fulfilling lives, comfortably navigating the curveballs that life threw at them; that’s what they’ve been doing all along in the sun and in the rain and at the theatre watching movies skipping class.
Later when I saw this pattern repeat is when I realized I wasn’t alone and it was the system that was wrong. After essentially wasting 20 years of my life, I desperately wanted to rally people to work towards a system reset and save another generation from having their valuable time and youth wasted away; only I didn’t have the authority that could get people to care about my thoughts and rally around the cause.
That’s why, thank you.
Thank you for bringing attention to this. Thank you for writing what I’ve wanted to write for so long. I hope things change and someday kids are taught only what is relevant and meaningful to their later life as an adult in the real world.
Some info about me for context: I’m 28 y.o south Indian from Tamil Nadu who topped school, took up Electrical Engineering, topped college, still didn’t know how to fix the motor that pumped water in our home because the system emphasizes and encourages rote memorization and that’s all what students do here, finally saw the light at age 21 and gave up Electrical, said “F U” to the norm and decided to do what I should’ve done 20 years ago — do what is relevant and meaningful to my adult life, do what helps me leverage my innate skills and unique talents to provide value to society.
Today I work at dffrnt.com, a 2-person design & dev company, leveraging what I discovered was a talent that I had had all along but went unnoticed by everyone including my own parents — artistic taste, that I now exercise in the field of UI/UX design. The system wasted the first 30 years of my life, I’m working on making the next 30 count.
This is important to me. Read Robert’s post and please take action, no matter how little. Just do it.
It’s high time education stopped wasting the most productive and fruitful period of a human’s life, filling it with formulae and charts and graphs and equations and benzene rings and geometric bisections and historical references that DON’T. HAVE A. SINGLE. FUCK. to do with being a functioning adult delivering meaningful value out in the real world.