Many parents today lament the fact that kids spend a lot of time playing video games, particularly in worlds of fantasy, zombies, futuristic settings, or make-believe cities. They fail to see that they willingly pay and send their kids daily to an institution that immerses them in a fantasy world that is far from reality — and that is school.
Where, in today’s adult reality, are people batched together by age, and asked to perform a certain task, then at the sound of the bell, they are to stop that task and start on an entirely different one altogether, and they have entirely no choice in the work to be done or the subject matter to be discussed? Adults at least, can resign from jobs they deem too preposterous or unfit for them. But can students resign from biology or history if they think it has nothing to do with their future plans? Or if they cannot understand the teacher or think that he is incompetent?
No, they have to suppress their feelings of disdain and waste a year (or even years) of their lives studying something in which they totally have no interest. The sad thing is, when they fail and don’t do well, they are shamed and labeled as “slow.” Their parents are called to school (and oh how parents hate it when this happens, and sometimes take it out on the child later).
Schools place a lot of emphasis on rewarding compliance, on recognizing students who do well in exams. The real world, however, rewards those who can actually perform. I once interviewed a candidate for computer technician for our company. He had what one might call an impressive resume. He had high grades in his transcript, and added to that, he had numerous certificates from different seminars and trainings he attended.
His first task for the interview was to turn on a computer that I had intentionally rigged to malfunction. I had loosened or removed some parts and I wanted to know if he could figure out what was wrong. He spent a whole hour trying to make the computer work, to no avail. He didn’t get the job.
The one who got the job didn’t have as impressive a resume but got the computer working in under 10 minutes.
Schools make a lot of fuss over their students who win over students of other schools in spelling bee or math contests. In reality, however, who really cares if you can spell “eudaemonic” or multiply two 3-digit numbers in your head?
Our math teachers used to tell us that we should learn how to add, subtract, multiply and divide by hand or in our heads because we won’t always have a calculator. Well, it’s now 2019 and for a few years already, we have been carrying a cellphone that has a calculator app (and more). In fact, you don’t even have to type in the numbers anymore, you can just ask verbally Google or Siri to add or multiply some numbers for you and listen to the answer.
Welcome to reality.
Originally published in Sunstar Davao.