As I am nearing the end of my sixteen years of public education, I become aware of how shackled I have become, how crippled I have been for the past sixteen years. It’s made me afraid to try new things, to spend time to do what I love. It’s deprived me of many things. It’s made me tired.
I am always so concerned with academics. I’m exhausted. I’m tired of keeping up with my readings. I’m tired of engaging everything critically. I’m tired of thinking and analyzing. I’m tired of listening to lecture after lecture. I’m tired. I’m tired of school.
This is not to say I find public education entirely unworthy of my efforts, nor am I suggesting that it is a complete waste of time. It’s not. Going through four years of university has been one of the most rewarding experiences I have had. It’s made me a better thinker, a better intellectual. It’s given me a perspective. I view the world so much differently than I did four years ago. I have gained both knowledge and wisdom, despite certain rigidities and glitches within the education system. I have grown, both as an individual and scholar. I will not have become the person I am today without going through university. I am grateful for that growth. I’m grateful for that experience.
I do think sixteen years of public education is too much. You get to choose your own specializations once you enter post-secondary, but grade school? Twelve years of grade school is simply too much. It’s too standardized and it’s too slow. Why must we go through so much schooling before we “start our life”? Do we need all those years of school to succeed in life? The answer is obviously no, but the way our society is structured does now allow a middle school or high school drop out to succeed. The society expects and the society judges. That’s the way things are. A diploma is not just a piece of paper. It’s a piece of paper that decides how much you’re worth. People may not admit it but they will judge, they will discriminate and they will condescend based on someone’s education.
It’s unfair. Our world puts too much emphasis on the accumulation of knowledge to deem one’s worth. It’s all about how well you speak and how well you contextualize. It’s about how you dress and how you present yourself. It’s about how well you can network and how well you can manipulate. Is there such a thing as honest success? Maybe. But I’ll bet it’s rare, and it’s improbable. No. If one wants to succeed in the world one must deal with people. And everybody lies; that’s the truth.
Our society is superficial. It’s inevitable and it’s harmful, because to succeed, we must cater to the image of success. We must aspire to become someone who inspires success, who looks successful to succeed. We learn to hide ourselves. We learn to act professional. We learn to deal with people of all kinds. We learn to squeeze our way into a business, a job, an opening so we can succeed. We must be part of the system to thrive in the system, no?
There is a system to things. There is a system to life. We are born, we have a few years of innocence, we go to school, we graduate, we get a job, we marry, we have kids, we retire, and we die. Life is formulaic because our society is formulaic. That’s the way the system functions. It does not allow anomalies. It does not allow difference because it is hierarchical. There has to be sameness for there to be structure. And we are all part of this structure. We are socialized into this structure, we are indoctrinated with norms and values of this particular structure so we can conform and perform our functions in our society. We must stay within the norms.
We must obey the system because our resources are limited. There is nothing to support our dreams unless you have already got the means. So we go to school. We get a job. We work. To gain financial stability. We work, and try to find happiness.
Education. It’s all part of the system. It has its benefits, there’s no denying that. But it’s so mechanical. It’s so alien. It’s so boring. It’s so…limiting.
Is it worth it? Is it really worth sixteen or so years of our life? Why is it something we willingly go through? Because everybody is doing it and that’s the way it’s always been done?
There has to be a better reason than that.