I’m a Twentysomething…complaining about the education system. Big surprise.

This Thursday is my graduation day. I’ll be crossing the stage at Carleton University’s Field House. This entire year, I’ve been waiting for this moment of pure accomplishment. Four years (3 somewhat studious and one fabulous year in France), thousands spent on tuition, books and coffee and beer at Roosters/Olivers, and countless amazing memories to last a lifetime. Yep, I’ve crossed that finish line (crawling at the end…but finished nonetheless.)

Last year, while in France I came to be a huge fan of Jamie Cullum, partly because his lyrics hit home. Anyone living the ridiculous twenties can most likely find truisms in his Twentysomething song.

After years of expensive education
A car full of books and anticipation
I’m an expert on Shakespeare and that’s a hell of a lot
But the world don’t need scholars as much as I thought
Maybe I’ll go travelling for a year
Finding myself, or start a career…

Granted I’m no Shakespearean scholar as studying Hofstede’s cultural dimensions was more the International Business style – there’s a lot of truth in his words.

Although I’ve learned a lot over these past 4 years, now that I’m out, I’m focusing more on what I haven’t learned. I’ve been one of those classic “cookie cutter” kids my entire life. Good grades, got involved, the works. The funny thing is, now that I’m out, I’ve realized that a lot of successful people out there didn’t even take the education route. I’ve met quite a few extremely successful people over the past few months who barely graduated from high school.

This in turn has made me reflect on how I’ve spent the last 17 years of my life.

Here’s my beef with the education system.

  • Don’t cater to the lowest common denominator of intelligence
  • Don’t baby us
  • Don’t allow me to play the system

So what does this mean?

Don’t give me good grades in school when in reality, it would never be accepted in the work world. As for the babying, (guaranteed my classmates wouldn’t necessarily agree) but a lot of teachers change the rules to accommodate the whiners. Ex. “I don’t like my grades.” Answer: “Don’t worry, I’ll add a point five percent for question 5”. Ex. “How do they expect us to research that?” “This is impossible and the real world wouldn’t ask you to do this” Answer: Handing in a half-assed project deems great marks. And when I say “don’t let me play the system”, don’t allow me to get A’s without understanding the concepts. I was always great at writing tests. It was a classic case of cramming – in one ear and out the other (15 min after the test was over). I always found it strange that the kids that understood the concepts never really seemed to do well on the tests. In retrospect though, who was the winner? The person with great grades? Or the person who knows how to actually use those concepts?

I shouldn’t harp on myself too much, but they are questions worth reflecting on. Then again, maybe University did exactly what it was supposed to do: make me question everything…

So, cheers to being a twentysomething and a toast to those fellow classmates on Thursday. Let’s party.



8 thoughts on “I’m a Twentysomething…complaining about the education system. Big surprise.

  1. On the bright side, the very fact that you have discovered this disconnect bodes well for you. Too many just “go with the flow” and assume that their schooling “qualifies” them for a job in whatever field they’ve chosen. Especially if they did well in school (they’re the worst! 😉 ), why question? Questioning the school system would only seem to diminish their accomplishment, right?

    A lot of profs claim that the true purpose of post-secondary education is to “teach you to think” – which is a great concept. The implementation sucks though in most cases. The implementation includes memorizing too many facts that should simply be sitting in a reference book on your desk for when you (occasionally) need them.

    I’d love to see school focus on:

    – Building/creating new things in your field (systems thinking)
    – Optimizing existing things for improving some facet of your organization, whatever it may be (making things better than they currently are)
    – Leadership (selling your ideas, rallying people to a cause, creating inspiration)

    These are the things that separate the good from the great. An absence of these means you end up being an assembly-line worker, one of a million others.

  2. […] to home – I’m watching a close friend graduate (today) and she’s now taking a look at her education after graduation. Especially after noticing that some around her, like those mentioned above, have had success by […]

  3. Jay Godse says:

    I had a chat in 1987 with a guy who graduated in 1943. He said that the only thing he took away was that he learned how to learn.

    I agree with him. In addition, if you learned how to build a network of people, and then use it, you have done well.

  4. […] I’ve harped on this before.  I feel like they lowered the bar enough in University. Now, they’re giving the green light […]

  5. […] the lakes For those that have read my blog from the beginning, my first post was about me harping on the education system. So, funny thing but, I’m hitting the books again come […]

  6. […] lack of intelligence. When we say we’re in a “knowledge economy” then why are we teaching to the lowest common denominator of intelligence? Why are they being so easy on us? Why aren’t we forced to do more math and science? As you […]

  7. […] 21, 2008 · No Comments As a young twenty-something I know plenty of other twenty-somethings. It’s a funny stage of life and yet I’m only 2 […]

  8. […] 3, 2008 · No Comments Go back a year. I was done my undergrad and debating really hard what to do with my life. Go to Finland for my […]

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