I’m sick of studying. No, not sick of learning, sick of studying. I’m still somewhat fascinated with the way nature functions and the various elements that have brought us together and the fundamental questions of existence. I have not completely lost my childly inquisitiveness and readiness to embark on a journey of acquiring knowledge. However, I am sick of poring over the same concepts and topics and testing and evaluating myself constantly. So, in short, I have a fear of tests. I feel like they’ll expose my weaknesses in a way I am not ready to handle. Maybe I have ego issues, maybe I am under-confident. I don’t know. There are so many students like me, it’s scary. We all feel like we’re bursting with knowledge, we want to share our ideas with the world, we want to be judged by the choices we make, but instead, we’re judged by exams. No, I don’t want to turn this post into a rant about exams. So, let me talk about an incident that happened recently.
It was a family dinner night. My parents and I were enjoying dessert when the conversation switched from the latest cricket match to health issues, obesity, diabetes, food choices, etc. I elaborated on some interesting facts about diabetes and food choices that I had read online. My parents listened, but the conversation ended with them saying “We’ll trust you after you obtain an MBBS or a medical degree.”
I was dumbfounded. This was coming from the most open-minded people I know! Why does everything boil down to degrees and qualifications?! It’s not their fault, the entire education and grading system is like that. But as I enter senior high school, degrees and entrance exams have this creepy habit of stealthily sneaking into every conversation, whether it is with my parents, with relatives or even with friends.
This is something every student (I hope it’s not just me) encounters at the cusp of entering senior high school. We are constantly, almost ruthlessly, questioned by family members, relatives and friends, of our life goals and aspirations. Some students have so many expectations, it ties them down. Others just don’t know. Further, due to a plethora of choices and opportunities that our hardworking parents have been able to provide, everyone expects us to succeed; succeed in the sense that we go five steps beyond what our parents have achieved, preferably in the same field.
I recently visited two coaching centres; they conduct classes from seventh grade onwards to prepare students for high-level competitive exams such as NTSE (National Talent Search Examination), Olympiads and entrance exams. These coaching centres effectively and completely kill the process of learning, self-discovery of the subject and appreciating the beauty of such knowledge. They are successful in providing guidelines, tips and practice materials to succeed with top ranks in exams.
I don’t intend to deviate, but there was a very interesting story I read. A young kindergartener’s course book said “Father takes his bag to the office.” However, this little boy had seen his father put his laptop in his bag and take it to the office. In the class test, there was a fill-in-the-blank that said “Father takes his __________to the office.” The little boy wrote “laptop.” The teacher awarded marks for the question but gently reprimanded the boy for using a term totally out of context. Similar events occurred several times in the course of the boy’s elementary education. By the time the boy reached seventh grade, his creativity had been effectively murdered in the process of standardisation and the “need” for marks. Now, when the boy entered an engineering college, he was asked to develop skills of innovation and present an original idea for a project. After effectively having his childly creativity and innovation skills murdered, the higher education system demanded him to demonstrate those skills. See the disparity?
It’s sad to see how exploratory skills and creativity get murdered. Even I feel like I have somewhat lost those traits, being so engrossed in the textbooks and materials I already have. Maybe you are feeling like you’ve read too many rants like these before, but I felt the urgency to articulate this issue in my own words and put it out there. Sorry if it was boring, but it’s true.
I still like to learn, but not with the same enthusiasm as before.