Success in School and/or Life

A recent provocative article from The Book of Life is well worth a read and here are some extracts:

We want to do well at school for an obvious reason: because – as we’re often told – it’s the primary route to doing well at life.

Few of us are in love with the A grades themselves – we want them because we’re understandably interested in one day having a fulfilling career, a pleasant house and the respect of others.

But, sometimes, more often than seems entirely reassuring, something confusing occurs: we come across people who triumphed at school – but flunked at life. And vice versa.

This leads on to some general remarks on schools:

This helps to explain the many bad habits schools inculcate:

– They suggest that the most important things are already known; that what is is all that could be. They can’t help but warn us about the dangers of originality.

– They want us to put up our hands and wait to be chosen. They want us to keep asking other people for permission.

– They teach us to deliver on, rather than, change expectations.

– They teach us to redeploy ideas rather than originate them.

– They teach us to expect that people in authority know – rather than letting us imagine that – in rather inspiring ways – no one is really on top of what’s going on.

– They teach us to trust that they have our largest, best, life-long interests at heart; without letting on that they are merely interested in our achievements in a very parochial and narrow obstacle course they control. They can’t save us and were never incentivized to do so.

– They teach us everything other than the two skills that really determine the quality of adult life; knowing how to choose the right job for us and knowing how to form satisfactory relationships. They’ll instruct us in Latin and how to measure the circumference of a circle long before they teach us those core subjects: Work and Love.

ending with

That said, it isn’t that all we need to do to succeed at life is flunk school. A good life requires us to do two very tricky things: be an extremely good boy or girl for 20 years; and simultaneously never really believe blindly in the long-term validity or seriousness of what we’re being asked to study.

We need to be outwardly entirely obedient while inwardly intelligently and committedly rebellious.

That’s quite a big ask but a thought-provoking one none the less!

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