June 13, 2012

I can do my taxes, thank you very much!

Every once in a while I get into this mood of standing atop a soap box and pointing fingers whilst wearing the hat of hypocrisy and gloves of exaggeration. Who doesn't? Maybe it's the effect of going non stop through Boston Legal (I'm nearly done with the fourth season).

I was reminded of a friend, an ex- colleague who shared his experiences of his time in high school with me. He was a shy man and he kept to himself. Intellectually quite capable and his GPA was in the high 90%. This was his first time out of his state. I'll cut to the chase and state that he was quite socially awkward. He had no experience in holding out a meaningful conversation that had nothing to with academics. He told me that he had spend the most of his time in high school preparing for the entrance exams and had absolutely no time to pursue anything else. He had no choice, he said. These entrance exams, if excelled at, would guarantee an entry into a top notch college in the country.  Once you are in this top notch college, a job is certain. Well, that's the aim, isn't it? It's a cut throat world out there and you need the means to obtain food, shelter and clothing. But at what cost? Is the diminishing of your capability as a human worth the fat salary? Obviously this a fringe case and by no means close to the median. You may blame the Gloves of Exaggeration.

High school is a period of exponential character growth and these days that part of the high school experience is being set on the back burner. Objective driven students taught by result driven teachers, who are pushed by goal oriented parents. Kids "do" school rather than be in it. We are now a nation of test takers. We excel at exams. We get the grades and raise the percentages. But, did we learn? Yes, I realize it's easy to play soap box speaker when I am well employed. For all my exams through college, I studied, rather than learned. A single night would suffice to study something that was supposed to be learned in four months. I am guilty.

What's the bottom line with the current trend? A good deal of brain drain. We need money, that I will not disagree upon. Yes the competition is massive and it all boils down to our grades, doesn't it? We'll have a nation of test takers. Extinction of innovators, dreamers and the free thinkers. It's true that only best grades will get you into the best colleges. It's not about the learning but rather about piling up the best grades so that it looks good on the college application. What about character and values? Increase in depression and social isolation and, god forbid, suicide rates.

Who are we to blame? The school or the parents? The lack of competent professional colleges to educate the student population or the system of reservation? Never mind that. There is one fact that we need to keep in mind. Who is eventually going to man the schools and teach our kids? Do you honestly believe that the "test taker" generation could teach?

I rule in favor of the plaintiff and I order the defendant to learn. Five points to Gryffindor.