“I’m sorry to inform you that Dixi will not be going any higher than level 3, we just think she will fit in better on that level”. A phrase I remember hearing my teacher say to my mother very vividly when I was 13 years old. We had just completed our final exams before being sent off to high school and down here, that exam would determine what level you got to start your new journey from. With level 5, the highest level, you would be able to go straight to university afterwards. With level 3, you would have performed only ‘average’ or just good enough to pass through.
But see, the thing was, I actually did score enough points to be sent to level 5 without a doubt, the numbers didn’t lie. But the school board thought that I wouldn’t fit in as the ‘minority’ in the group and couldn’t possibly excel among my peers. After all, how many black girls go straight to level 5 and succeed anyway? (A whole lot by the way) Why put that amount of pressure on a young girl, they said, trying to convince my mother of their decision. “Kids like Dixi perform best when among their own kind” they said. What do you know, I had my own kind now.
Looking back, I wish I had the option to choose the school of life, to later on graduate with an MBA of street smarts and life experience.
Cause let’s be honest, if only 27% of traditionally educated graduates end up in a career related to their major, 73% of us dedicated half of our lives and spent a whole lot of money on something we actually didn’t need.
Am I saying we don’t need education? No. I am saying that our school system, as it is, just doesn’t work.
How does a young boy who is amazingly creative with his hands, able to build just about anything, end up last in his class rankings because he happned to be less interested in math and biology? Who gets to decide what is more important, his unique talent that could actually take him places or his ability to explain formulas he will never, ever need?
How does a young girl go to school full of ideas and determined to conquer the world with them, only to come out with her dreams being labelled as impossible, unlikely, not good enough, too different. She ends up with a desk job she hates paying off a student loan, living in a house she can’t afford. But at least she got her degree right?
Why do some of the richest people in the world not have a degree? Not because they were too lazy, hard work was obviously not a problem for them. Bill Gates is a Harvard drop out, Steve Jobs a college drop out, Mark Zuckerberg college drop out, Richard Branson dropped out at age 16, just to name a few.
Are schools, among other things, not meant to hand us the necessary tools and teach us how to use them to find our own success? Could it be that schools instead of promoting creativity, actually discourage it? Instead of finding out the strengths, gifts and talents of students and help develop them, these get pushed aside and are almost expected to be neglected?
All for the sake of standardization. Who REALLY wants to be standard anyway? Even if you just want to have a ‘normal’ life, isn’t it up to you to decide what that normal life is? Or do you wish to ask the mayor of your town to tell you what your standard of normal should be? If your answer to the latter is a grinning no, why do we so easily accept those standards when it comes to our schools?
Right now, we are asking fish to climb up on trees the same way as monkeys do and we ask monkeys to swim in the sea the same way as fish do. Is it really fair to say any of the two has failed the test? Or is it the test that has failed to recognize them?