Ever since I was a kid I remember loving to learn but I hated school: the endless homework, the stressful exams, and the ever-looming feeling that I wasn't doing enough. Yet for 18 years of my life, this is the system that has molded me.
I am not saying that school is all bad. I have a lot to thank the school system, my teachers, and academics in general. However, what I do desire to express is how school can be a much better experience.
As I come to the end of my university experience, I now face the decision of having to choose between working or going to graduate school or becoming a bum. Although the latter is tempting, I am more torn between work and grad school.
Honestly, applying to jobs and preparing for grad school is like a part-time job. There are so much work and preparation that goes into this process. You have to reach out to teachers and previous employers for letters of recommendation. You have to write compelling letters of 500-1000 words to convince, most likely, a complete stranger that you are the best match. Not to mention that you have to create a perfect résumé, one-page in length, that is supposed to tell them everything you have done of use in your life.
I have found it to be quite a frustrating process because what I have learned and experienced throughout my early twenties cannot be compiled into 500-1000 words plus one page.
Quite frankly, the GPA I put at the top of my résumé is not going to tell anyone anything about me. They won't know if I gained that GPA by sheer chance or talent. They won't know if I worked hard to pass my classes. They won't know if I actually learned something or if the tests were simply easy by design. My GPA literally tells people nothing about me. It is only a number.
And that is the problem with our school system. That at the end of the day we are reduced to a number: a test score, a homework grade, an attendance tally, and a GPA.
My GPA doesn't capture how I worked endlessly day and night when I failed the first exam to then end up with a perfect score on the last exam. My GPA doesn't capture how during those endless days and nights I had to struggle with caring for my family, working a part-time job, and dealing with my failing eyesight. The school system does not capture how people confront poverty, depression, anxiety, homelessness, malnutrition, discrimination and so much more.
The world is filled with learning: each conversation we have, each adventure we go on, each person we help, and so on. Every moment we live we are learning. And school is where we go to learn about the best. But if we want the best learning we need to stop with the numbers.
We need to start meeting students with teachers. We need to start allowing for conversations that allow individuals to convey their true selves: their passions, their experiences, their knowledge. When we can do this and see the whole picture, that is when we can know that our education system has taken the right step forward in fulfilling its purpose: to promote progression.
Education never was about perfection. It is about progression.