There’s a new scam in town. Well, not so new, since it’s been around for a pretty long while. It’s not a Ponzi scheme, and it’s definitely not sim swap fraud. It’s worse than those, and yet it’s so well accepted by everyone. Actually, it’s an idea so well sold that your grandpa will question why you haven’t bought into it yet.
I have been thinking a lot these days about a lot of things. That might be because I’m an unemployed graduate (who now knows there are 48 full and 28 half tiles in the loo). Could also be because lately, I’ve been reading a lot of stuff. Whichever, who cares.
One of those thoughts has been ‘why did I go to school?‘. Too many nights have passed and I still can’t think of a good enough reason.
Now I tried getting views from other people, both young and old. For the young, the question was the same and for the old, it was why they were sending their kids to school. The answer I kept getting everywhere was this: To learn.
Moving on, that reason doesn’t make sense to me. Perhaps I’m just a weird kid who has a different view on too many issues. But think about it. Why do you need a classroom to learn? Why has learning become synonymous with school? Learning is a lifelong process. We’re always learning. To bath, to drive, to walk, to dance, to sweep, to cook, to smoke etc. Now I’m in no way saying school is no good, hell nah. I’ve learnt a million things from school. Like the fact that you need a sperm and an egg to make a baby. Or that refrigeration systems operate at both hot and cold temperatures. Yes.
But doesn’t answer why I needed to spend thousands of cedis and hours sitting in rooms, wearing uniforms and writing exams (exams, smh).
Shawshank Redemption is one of my all-time favourite movies, and Red (played by Morgan Freeman) makes a statement that gets to me every time I watch it.
‘These walls are kind of funny. First, you hate ’em, then you get used to ’em. Enough time passes, gets so you depend on them. That’s institutionalized. They send you here for life, that’s exactly what they take. The part that counts, anyways’.
Morgan Freeman(Shawshank Redemption)
Sometimes I feel that’s exactly what school has become. We hate every moment we’re in it. Then we get used to the routine. And after enough exams and classes, graduations and certificates, we start to depend on it. After all, that’s all most of us have to show for our lives.
No matter how I try to look at it, the list of the things I could have done in school alone is a reaaaaally short one. And even that is pushing it. Let’s get back to this part shortly.
Now it’s understandable that society will find a way to regulate groups of people who choose to pursue a particular purpose, to group them if you like. And for each of these groups, they’ll be taught the basic things that need to be known for that field. For example, all the cool kids who want to read (=know about) business are put in one class, and they have teachers coming in to deliver lessons on Business Management, Economics, Costing, Accounting. These cool kids spend the next 3 to 4 years getting themselves ready for an assessment to know whether or not they understand the material they’ve been trying to cram for just as long. Now here’s the part that baffles me. Why must your entire life revolve around these four courses alone? Whoever said that’s all your brain is capable of?
I suppose now I’m venturing into the realm of ‘all people want is a job’. That’s talk for another tea party.
For now, allow me to tell you a little story. Once upon a time, there was this lad who was so enthused about school. Everything that was related to school, he was in. He’d do almost anything to get some admiration and accolades from colleagues and staff. Especially the awards, oh gosh! He’d spend hours meticulously going over course content to make sure that speech day award was his. Disclaimer from writer to students reading this: I’m in no way suggesting that studying hard in school is a bad thing. Just keep reading.
So this lad kept right on with this, excelling and collecting accolades every step of the way. And then school ended. And guess what? So did his life. Well not literally.
Because as you may have figured out so far, the more important stuff was not cramming stuff to pass those exams with flying colours.
You see, we have come to a place where all that matters is whether or not it will feature in the exam. It’s so sad, I can’t even describe it.
A good friend of mine told me, ‘Personally, school took a turn for me when I adjusted my outlook on certain things. For example, I started considering my university admission as an opportunity. I’m the lucky one. I get to learn about and know all these really awesome stuff. I have the chance to gain more understanding about an aspect of human existence’. It’s no joke that formal education changes a person. It affects you in a very desirable manner. Things just seem better with it, someway somehow.
Now let’s go back to the list of things that can be done in school alone. The key word here is alone.
Top on that list for me is the opportunity to meet so many like-minded and yet different people. Take for example a Pharmacy class. You’ll have people in there who just want to please fam. Another needs the degree to feed the entire village paying for his fees. Another is also passing time until her parents can confirm arrangements to go be a model in Paris. Yet one thing brings them together on Monday morning; lab reports. For those few hours of that school day, they’re resonating with one another, communicating with a certain level of intellect. So different, and all so beautiful.
Another reason I think school is awesome is there are some things you’ll probably not ever get to do/try unless you have a student ID or something linking you to a school. Like doing an experiment in a chemistry lab. Or assisting in a Caesarean section when you aren’t staff.
Now you may have noticed that the two examples given above involve doing and not just learning.
Look, let’s not kid ourselves. Life is happening. People in school are making it. People who have never been to school are also making it. I’m not a pro or anything, but that tells me the secret isn’t hidden in a classroom. It’s all in doing, in learning. Frankly, I think we lack motivation to learn on our own. Like why will I spend hours going through Rang & Dale when pretty girls are waiting for me on IG?
Funny enough, we applaud and commend people who go out of their way to do more than the classroom allows. Like learning a language, or starting a business.
Usually, the response I get is ‘Oh but you need to go to school to learn how to get all these things started. And I ask, ‘what do you really need? To learn or to be in school?’