0299 – Beyond our one-size-fits-all education system

Writing to you from the Kerala backwaters once again. It’s a rainy morning. A couple of us woke up at 6 am to try to catch the sunrise. Pity it’s overcast this morning. Here’s the view:

Formidable clouds. Glad it didn’t rain on us. Peaceful India was still peaceful.

I’d like to write about something different today.

Found this fantastic gem on Facebook the other day:

Our education system, ladies and gentlemen. This cartoon couldn’t be a more fantastic mockery of our education system.

And this is true. Very true. In the scope of this picture, I would say I feel like a fish sometimes. Or perhaps more accurately, I may be the dog, but one who has learned how to climb. I am a dog who has excelled at the task, but is out of my natural elements doing so. Such is my identity in the education system. I’d rather be doing something else.

Now, the monkey. The monkey may not be the luckiest in this picture. The monkey may be good at climbing the tree, but what if the monkey just isn’t interested in doing so? What if the monkey would rather just spend the day at the zoo playing with visitors? Often, we assume that those who’re really skilled at something always enjoy it. But this doesn’t have to be the case.

Seeing all my fellow interns from all over the globe, I am reminded of how diverse and unique each of us is, and also how ridiculous it is that the education system we hold paramount is one-dimensional and caters  to a select group of students–monkeys in this case. Now, this is a generalization, and there are efforts to reform the education system. People in the system will tell you that. But I am critical. Very critical.

A really good friend and mentor of mine, Rick Sheridan of Menlo Innovations, sent me this email the other day with really inspirational quotes about how one should stay true to oneself. Here’s a sample:

“Born originals, how comes it to pass that we die copies?”
Edward Young

“The individual has always had to struggle
to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe.
If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened.
But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.”
Friedrich Nietzsche

“None of us will ever accomplish anything excellent or commanding
except when he listens to this whisper which is heard by him alone.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I think the reward for conformity is
that everyone likes you except yourself.” Rita May Brown

I’ve had a few conversations this past week about life, and heard differing viewpoints and different choices we all have made in our lives. The flamboyant British teenager that was with us made a very profound comment that struck me hard:

“In general, the people here on the boat are very very lucky people.”

Huh. I’m bemused.

The attitude really does make a lot of difference. Despite my many complaints, I am blessed. I have been given many opportunities to see the world, to make the world my education system. It is the simplest of conversations that sometimes spark something in you. It is sometimes the most unexpected of discoveries that change the course of your life.

So extend the boundaries of your education. Stay true to yourself. Learn. Nurture. Grow. And above all, live!



One thought on “0299 – Beyond our one-size-fits-all education system

  1. Cassie May 30, 2012 / 11:13 pm

    Haha… the engineer in me has shown through.

    I initially read Edward Young’s quote and immediately thought of die casting. However read this way, it brings about a whole new conversation on the role of the original…

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