An Alaskan journalist's perspective on local and national issues

Posts tagged ‘College’

The Hammer of Failure

There is a rather ugly lesson that isn’t really shown in television or movies.  It is a lesson that people learn, and not a lot of people like.  The lesson that a person can try their hardest, but that doesn’t mean that they are going to succeed.  It’s really harsh to hear, but it’s true.  At the same time, while that lesson isn’t being taught, there is something that is being used as a hammer against the entire population – the hammer of failure.

The idea is that advisors, counselors and what have you will tell you that if you don’t do this and that and so on, you are going to be a complete and utter failure.  I cannot begin to tell you how much I have and am still hearing about this now.  You see, I am a smart guy.  I’m not an Einstein genius, but I am pretty smart.  Still, for being intelligent, I was not the best student.

Growing up, I got told by so many people who I was going to fail.  My parents said that I should just drop out of high school.  In hindsight, that might not have been the worst idea.  Public high school in America is a joke, and the punch line is that it is the best that so many of us have.  All the talks, all the pressure, and the endless line about how one is going to fail is just absolutely crushing sometimes.

But this is the tool that our academics seem to think is the most effective way to motivate kids.  It is pounded into their heads, day after day, and there are plenty of smart kids who just don’t do well in school, either because the way things are being taught to them doesn’t mesh with their personalities, or because our academics seem to think that there is a one-size-fits-all test that can determine how smart they are which clearly isn’t what its name implies.

People think that if we tell kids enough that they are going to fail, they are going to get movitated to succeed.  The reality is that if that were ever true, schools would have really high scores and grades.  But, as with issues like the right to bear arms or freedom of speech, the answer aren’t as clear-cut and neat as we would like to think they are.  The fact is that things are a lot more complicated, and students are not all cut from the same cloth.

The fact is that our education system is failing on such a monumental level because educators and the systems they are in have failed to realize the most critical thing that they should – each student is different and they don’t take in knowledge the same way.  Ironically, I am a person who learns by doing.  The only classes that I have really taken something from are the ones where I was out in the world working to create something.  But most college courses are NOT that.  They are a 3X structure – you go to class, have a big test in the middle, and a big test or project (or both) at the end.  That’s it.  That’s now how I and a lot of people that I know work.  I have a friend who is going to be one of the youngest surgeons in this country.  He is a brilliant mind, and has busted his ass because he doesn’t learn like their 3X structure works either.  Thankfully, he has had the luck of having professors to understand his dilemma, and work with him.

We need to stop hammering in that kids will fail if they don’t follow a certain path or do this or that.  Now, before you start thinking it, I am not one of those people who says that It Gets Better.  That is an outright lie, and we know it.  I merely believe that students are not as stupid as we give them credit for, and although some are, I think the bulk just haven’t found their niche.

The benefit is that in the modern age, finding a niche is so much easier, because the internet is open to all walks of life and ways of thinking.  Online, more and more opportunities are growing for more and more people, and while there are a lot who still fall through the cracks, the growth of the internet means that more people will have a way into a space, provided that they are a little proactive in making things happen.

But this attitude of – you’ll fail, you suck, needs to go.  Any educator who uses it, disregard them as a narrow-minded idiot, because that is what they are.  There will be instances where one will fail, and there will be times where a person can try their hardest and not succeed, but here’s the kicker – when we tell kids that they will get better, and that they will find a way, they will keep wanting to try.  When parents and teachers keep telling them that they will fail, they will, because they won’t have the self-confidence to even bother trying, and that is a crime, and absolute crime.

Education needs to get smarter.  Though that may be being a little too optimistic.  America, a nation that makes war against smart.

Free Viagra is a Scam (and other pieces of home-grown advice)

From one Alaskan to anybody in the world who may be listening, here are some pieces of advice that will help your days get better –

  • Free Viagra is a scam.  I hope you already knew that.  If not, well, you’ll find out soon enough.
  • Don’t sit in the dark for too long.  It depresses the crap out of you.  A little sunlight can go a long way, even if you don’t tan well.  A few seconds won’t hurt, and may just make all the difference to brighten up your day.
  • Don’t be afraid to look like an idiot on the dance floor with the girl or guy you want to dance with.  Half of the guys and gals there will be jealous of the fact that you were brave enough to go onto that dance floor and rock it out in the first place.
  • Ladies, you are NOT as fat as you think you are.
  • Beauty magazines are the most dangerous weapon of mass destruction to a girl’s inner beauty, because it only makes you care about your outer beauty, and if it doesn’t do that, it will hurt you, anyway.
  • The future will be what it is, so don’t get too scared by it.  There will be days when it gets pretty hard, but guess what – it won’t be because of war with whoever, or because of nuclear power plants.  It will be something that comes up at 6 in the evening, and it will be the most trying thing you never saw coming.  But don’t worry about it, because in the end, it all works out okay.
  • Being who you are is the best thing in the world.  If what you like to do with your friends is to dress up as a video game or anime character, good for you.  There is nothing wrong with you, and anybody who looks down on you is too scared to do what they want to do, or too simple to like to do anything really fun.
  • Don’t be afraid to sing the lyrics to the song you’re listening to.  If it makes you feel better, just go for it.  Let people judge you later.
  • Don’t get jealous over the love other people have.  I won’t demean your intelligence by saying that there is that perfect somebody for everybody, but there is always another chance.  And when you seize it, that person who you were jealous of may look at you, and I will give them the same advice.
  • Tell somebody to have a wonderful day, even if they look like they are having the best day ever.  But find those who don’t look like that and also tell them.  You’ll feel loads better when you do.
  • Never get rid of your love letters.  They will be a part of that special relationship that you have worked so hard to make.
  • Understand that love isn’t something that just happens.  Modern music will tell you about all the great parts, but also remember all the hard ones.  Anyone who hasn’t hurt, hasn’t loved.  Real love does have pain, but that pain allows you to grow as a person because it makes you appreciate the good times more.
  • If you don’t know what to do with your life, it’s okay.  The best parts of life are when you are trying to figure these things out.  And it will make for some great experience in life when you finally do figure it out.
  • Do what makes you happy.  If you go to college, don’t get the smart degree, get the degree that leaves you feeling passionate.  Trust me, you’ll feel better when you do.
  • You might get married and have a bunch of kids, or maybe you’ll never get married and never have a single child to your name.  But it’s all good in the end.  Don’t do what people say is the right thing for you to do.  Do what feels right.
  • Friends will come and go, but cherish the ones who stick with you, because they are the rare and best friends of all.
  • Travel as much as you can.  Seeing new places will make you feel better about your life, and give you more perspective about the world and all the people in it.
  • Don’t just give people respect.  Respect is earned.
  • If you need to cry, do so.  It’s not a crime.  If you are a guy or girl, if you need to shed tears, do it.  You’ll feel free when you do.
  • But above all, remember – free viagra is a scam.

Peace out,

Lefty

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