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Why Am I in School?

Before I gained admission into the university, I had the naive notion that people went to school to learn and make good grades in their exams. This part about “getting good grades” has always troubled me because I keep wandering why it has to be about “grades”. In secondary school, once I had grasped the ... Continue Reading

Before I gained admission into the university, I had the naive notion that people went to school to learn and make good grades in their exams. This part about “getting good grades” has always troubled me because I keep wandering why it has to be about “grades”.

In secondary school, once I had grasped the concept being taught in class, I would usually be satisfied. I hardly copied my notes until the times when our teachers would demand that they be submitted for assessment. When I became worried in school was only usually in situations when I had hardly understood what had been taught in class.

Before the exams, I would only open the usually incomplete notes, a night to the exams to revise, rehearse and try to recall those things I had understood in class. I hardly ever gave to my teachers answers to the exam questions word for word because I always believed that humans are different, therefore it should not be expected that we would all think, understand and explain things exactly the same way.

Why am I sharing all this? There’s something I’m driving at. It is in the university that I have come to the realization that majority of students see school as a means to an end which is getting a degree or a certificate, landing a good job and ultimately making money. Very few students see school as an avenue for learning. This is a major reason so many of us decide to suffer in the hands of JAMB to obtain university admission…Money!

“Why am I in school?” is a very important question only few of us ask ourselves while in the university. Is it all about the ‘A’ or ‘B’, the ‘first class’ or ‘2-1, the job in the oil company, bank, large hospital or legal firm, the certificate, the ‘money’? Shouldn’t there be more to education such as genuine learning, self-discovery, dream pursuit, purpose discovery and true education?

Though, it’s not completely our fault that we often find ourselves with these mixed-up priorities and ‘right-but-wrong’ motives but we cannot keep on blaming the society for making us the way we are. We cannot keep on blaming the government for poor educational systems and environments. We cannot keep on blaming our parents for their backwardness and conservativeness – wanting us to study particular courses just for the name, the job and the money.

We cannot keep on blaming the economy and the labour market for being so hard on those without ‘long legs’. We cannot keep on blaming our parents for demanding so much of us. We just have to stop blaming because the more we blame others for predicaments that affect us, the longer we remain in the situation and at the mercy of those we have given control by putting the blame on them.

Ask yourself that question one more time, “Why am I in school?” and be sure to answer it truthfully because you cannot deceive anybody, including yourself. When was the last time you read just to become knowledgeable in a particular subject even if it was outside you course of study so that you could apply that knowledge in adding value to the society?

When was the last time you burnt hours thinking creatively and innovatively about how you could make the world a better place with what you know and what you can do? These things such as money and fame we so tirelessly pursue are simply by-products of the real things we ought to pursue – learning and using what we learn to solve problems and satisfy needs in the society and they easily find us when we place our priorities aright.

I am not in any wise advocating bad grades because I get a lot A’s and B’s myself and I don’t plan on stopping but my 80’s and 90’s are not products of cramming and pouring, rather they are by-products of what I had learnt and relayed to me lecturers during the exams.

Besides, though it took a lot of time and struggle with my mentality and mind-set to get there, I can proudly say that I have finally gotten to a point where it really doesn’t matter the grade anymore, all I want is to keep learning and using my knowledge to solve societal problems as long as I breathe.

The few poor grades according to my assessment I have scored in my life have never moved me as long as I could convince myself that I learned all the rudiments of that subject. If I haven’t, then I simply take up the subject again even when I know that I may never write school exams for them again and study afresh to ‘learn’ because that’s why I’m in school.

Besides, just because you remembered something in the exam hall which you just memorized few minutes earlier doesn’t mean you’ll remember few months later. Likewise, just because you couldn’t remember something you studied so hard during the exams as a result of exam tension until five minutes after the exams and ended getting a ‘B’ instead of an ‘A’ doesn’t mean you didn’t and don’t still know it.

What I’m saying in essence is that exams are not always the true test of a person’s knowledge. Likewise, in the same vein, grades or certificates are not always the true proof of a person’s performance or ability.

The real test of what we know and who we are is the lecturer or teacher called ‘life’ and you can rest assured that  this examiner will always give you the grade you deserve. So, why are you in school? Are you just preparing for exams that all you have to do is ‘cram, pour and pass’ or are you preparing for the real exams life will test you with in the nearest future?

Your certificate may secure you a great job tomorrow but it will not do the job for you, that’s if you plan on helping others build their own dreams by working for them in the future. You will have to do the job yourself, you will have to apply what you have learnt and how can you give what you do not have?

Now I know you may be thinking, “if really it doesn’t matter and you don’t care, then why don’t you settle for F’s and drop out of school?”. This is always the ‘coup de grace’ whenever issues like this are discussed. We often use men like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and so on as exemplary epistles.
I acknowledge these men and great minds as daring and outstanding men who considered and valued education as more important than school – to an extent that they did not need the degree we so tirelessly pursue to be excellent and positively challenge and consequently change the status quo.
But, I must stress one thing we often miss about these men which is the fact that these men left school not because they weren’t smart and not because they were frustrated with poor results – for those that went at all, rather they left because they were too smart to remain in school after they had discovered the problems in the society they wanted to solve with their lives and knowledge. What that should tell us is that it was never about the degree.
As I have been stressing, this is what school should be about. An avenue where you learn, where you discover yourself, improve and develop that person as well as where you decide to become the change and solution you wish to see in the world.
So I ask again, “why are you in school?” I really hope you are not spending all those three, four, five to seven years of your life as the case may be just so you can receive a ‘certificate’ (a mere paper which may not still give you the future you desire for yourself – ask the thousands of unemployed graduates roaming the streets in search of jobs).
As important as the degree is, there’s more to life than having a university degree. Get an education and life will reward you bountifully for what you have problems you can solve with what you have learnt.

“…Do not go to school just to get good grades or a degree, instead get an education because that will keep serving you even after the certificate has washed off with age…afterall, it’s just paper” – Daniel Ihenetu.

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