After an intense run of exams, I feel like I finally have a moment to breathe and reflect. And yet, the irony is, I can’t think of anything to say! Throughout my study sessions, interesting thoughts and creative ideas sprang into my head and teased me, trying to grab my attention. I came across some really insightful books that I wanted to read, movies I wanted to watch, and ideas I wanted to pursue myself in short stories and/or a novel. Now… either I don’t feel like doing any of that or I just don’t remember what those ideas were in the first place!
Why is it, every single time, that our mind invents the most interesting things at times when we can’t do anything about them??!
I have a feeling this has to do with the contrast between education and learning. Yes, they are different things, believe it or not!
The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education. (Albert Einstein)
Now why would Albert Einstein say something like that? If you think about it, the probable reason why so many kids hate school so much is that they aren’t interested in the taught material. The formalization of an education system forces students to take a particular path towards “learning”, which can be dentrimental in the long-term.
For example, I remember coming across some poetry in high school, outside of my English classes, that I really enjoyed reading. I thought about the poet’s message, and the way he chose and combined words to get his ideas across. I was actually analyzing poetry for my own interest, without a teacher forcing me to follow his/her method. Not only did this allow me to read poetry the way it has always been meant to be read (i.e. Robert Frost didn’t write poems so they could be taught in schools; he wrote them to convey his ideas in an artistic form and to possibly cause his readers to consider different aspects of religion and life), but it allowed me to truly learn how to read poetry.
When we read the same poems in class, my interest started to dwindle, primarily because we were required to break up the poem in tiny pieces in order to fully analyze it. That completely takes away from the feel and big picture meaning of the poem. I can easily imagine why so many teens hate poetry – when you’re only taught poetry in that severely dissected form, rarely seeing the big picture, how can you possibly appreciate the artistic form?
Similarly, I have a very deep interest in learning about medieval Europe and its kings and queens. In grades 6-9, I constantly read the Royal Diaries, which are fictional accounts from famous princesses in the past, such as Queen Elizabeth I, Bloody Mary, and Queen Victoria of England, Anastasia of Russia, Cleopatra of Egypt, and many more around the world. I learnt so much from these diaires, because I would often Google the queens and search for more information about them online. I also used to read the Dear Canada series, with fictional accounts from Canadian girls throughout history. Most of the Canadian history that I learnt was through these books… I was never interested in the material taught at school and quite frankly don’t remember a lot of the details that were taught to me, such as the War of 1812.
As much of an interest as I’ve had in history, I have never taken a history class. Even in university now, when there are so many interesting history classes for me to register in, I don’t sign up for one. Why? Because I know that when the reading assignments and paper deadlines start coming my way, my focus will change from learning the material for my interest to just getting it all done as soon as possible. Where’s the fun and learning in all of that?
So, I guess to sum it all up, I feel like my problem right now is the same. As much as I love math (yes… I do, and I always have loved math, but…), if I’m scrambling to submit homework problems on time and to get through practice problems for the midtern, I can’t possibly see the direct applications of the material I’m taught. Courses like genetics, cell biology and organic chemistry are different for me, because I feel like I’m going to know something at the end that will help me help the world through research and whatnot, even if some of the things we’re taught right now are downright boring.
The ideal world would be one in which we attend university lectures, soak up all the amazing information that exists out there, and never be tested on it. Siiigh! We might not be practically ready to address the world’s problems when we graduate, but we would all be great thinkers, that’s for sure!