martedì, luglio 27, 2004

The Points Don't Matter

I wrote this not too long ago, about 3 days before my Semester 1 exams, for my College newsletter - The Monash Gazette, aka Monga. It's kinda like a summation of my views towards education today, what it really means, and where it somehow got it all wrong. It's MY two cents worth, which means you guys can also feel free to comment about it. (i.e. agree, disagree, disagree vehemently, disagree with cussing, you get my point).

It's used with permission from my Monga editor, E.T. and from the writer himself. Well duh! So here it is. Hope you like it :)

The Points Don’t Matter
by Eddie G.

One of my all time favourite TV shows is “Whose Line Is It Anyway”. Headed by funnyman Drew Carrey, this side-splitting “gameshow” comedy is made up of performances where, as Drew puts it, “everything is made up and the points don’t matter”. That’s right, the points are like his treadmill. True to his word, Drew awards the performers (who actually know what they’re going to do next) with points that really don’t mean anything since the audience already knows that it’s all rigged.

But there is wisdom in Drew’s words nonetheless. (After all, even a clock that’s not working is right at least twice a day). Too many a time, we are too preoccupied with trying to earn those “points” that we forget to enjoy the finer things in life, especially when it comes to education

Most education systems in Asia, sad to say, are governed by one very obscene “G” word – Grades. Take it from someone who grew up in the Fine City of Singapore for 16 years. The saddest thing I find about education today is that we are what our grades say we are. Hence the coinage of the term “A-Student” or “B-Student” (or in my case, “I-don’t-know-why-you-even-bother-coming-to-school-Student”). Has education finally degenerated into a rat-race of just getting good grades?

I’m not belittling getting good grades, mind you. I admit it’s nice to get a distinction once in a while. What I don’t understand though is how some people would do anything and everything just to get an “A”, even at the expense of their health, social life and sometimes even their character. In Singapore’s top girls’ school Raffles Girls’ School, some students would cry just because they got 89 and not the 90+ they usually get. I’m not kidding; they do that! And here I am more than happy with my 65.

Yes, it’s perfectly alright to set high standards for yourself, but it’s not alright to let these high standards set you. Let’s not forget that the main aim of education is to learn something from the end of it all. And believe you me, nobody learns how to swim without drinking a little water (my swimming instructor always said that I must have grew up in the desert)

In my days in secondary school and junior college I carried with me the Drew Carrey mentality to class. Needless to say, I was often under a lot of fire from both teachers and peers alike. Whenever a test was returned, I would always remind others of my belief. And they would always brush it off in some way. If I did well they’d say, “Easy for you to say”. If I did okay they’d say, “You’re never going to improve like this.” (n.b. I improve by learning from my mistakes, not by brooding over my grades). And if I did badly they’d say, “You’re just trying to make yourself feel better”. So after a while, I gave up preaching, kept my views to myself and stayed happy, healthy and relatively stress-free.

We all have different reasons for coming here to Monash. Some are here genuinely to learn new things and gain new experiences. Some are here merely to get their degree while some others come here to pick up chicks. Although I do not possess the right to say which motive is right or which is wrong, I do wish to point out that while degree may help you get a job, it will not help you keep it. That would depend on how well you deal and work with other human beings – something you will not learn from your textbooks.

I enjoyed watching “The Day After Tomorrow”, in particular the library scene where they had to burn books of academia to stay alive. That was a cleverly subtle satire of what education has become. Knowing who wrote what and why he/she wrote it won’t save you from freezing to death, but knowing where to use the knowledge and how to will. And that, I believe is the true meaning of education.

So whenever you’re dissatisfied with your grades, just remember that everything is made up and the points, like buffets to Ally McBeal, don’t matter. The world will still go on, high D or bungkus*. What’s more important is that you move on and learn where you got it wrong. And if you’re the kind that wants to get good grades just so that can prove to others that you’re better than them, ask yourself this question: Do they really give a damn?

(Ed's note: For our foreign friends out there, "bungkus" means "take-away" and often refers to the plight of an unfortunate college student who failed his/her unit, thus having to re-do it - hence the doggie bag imagery. Quite dire it is in the world of an academic...)

Ye who seek for audience, let ye speak now!

And so it came to past that at 05 settembre, 2004 14:34, in the presence of The Eddie G., Anonymous Anonimo had spoken the following...

EUJ here. I liked this one...haha....very true. Think u'll become an awesome writer in the future. Look forward to reading what you come up with next.


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