From the end of the tunnel standing in the clear sunshine of graduation, the educational system seems broken.
When I look back on the past 19 years of my education, the lessons that I remember the most are the classes which taught me how to interact with the world and the people around me—to truly appreciate differences, to recognize brilliant inspiration, and to trust my intuition. And yet, not a single course on this cardstock transcript is named “Curiosity 101” or “Trust your Gut.”
In preparation for a recent interview, I contemplated the inevitable question “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” And my answers were not formed in a classroom. I have a knack for identifying other’s motives and defusing a conflict before anyone else even notices what’s happening. I crave creativity and will act with imagination and conviction. I will use my intuition to understand the goal, to see it from every possible angle, and zoom down to the relevant (or irrelevant) details to better understand the path to success. My weaknesses? I’m rarely at complete peace with myself—as a perfectionist, I always think there’s a better way, a better state, a better option down the road.
When I look at these answers, I cannot help but wonder if my 19 years of education contributed more to my weakness than to my strengths. And, to me this is a tragic, terrible conclusion. The educational system was created with the intent to impart wisdom, knowledge, and to prepare our youngest citizens for a worthy and contributive life as Americans. And yet, today’s Bachelor’s degree has become a perfunctory requirement that amounts to four years spent without energy or enthusiasm because it is expected.
America houses some of the most brilliant minds in existence today, and so I ask you: How can we turn homework reports and assignments into creative fodder for Science or Nature magazine? How can we fix a broken educational system? How can we reshape expectations?
How can we fix what we have broken?