I am frustrated.
If you are curious as to why I am frustrated then let me enlighten you with a short story.
So here it goes.
After many years of endless efforts I had finally managed to get a three-week traveler’s visa to the United States. I decided to go to Boston and see the magnificent University of Harvard. When I got there I met a student of English literature named Matt and I decided to make some inquires about his curriculum and what he did on a regular basis in the University. Here is what he told me: “We have a lot of different stuff that we do, we also have a wide array of choices in terms of what we want to study. We read a variety of things such as old English, Middle English, satires, tragedies and comedies, sermons and literature from different centuries in general. We go to field trips every now and again and we get to know each other more and we also get to communicate with our professors.
You know, it’s not like high school anymore where you had to go to some place, study and come back home. Here, we get involved. We try to learn as much as we can, as good as we can. We really try to push ourselves. After all, this is what we are passionate about, right? By the way, what do you do in your University?”
At first I felt embarrassed to tell him the truth; nonetheless, I decided to be frank, and here is what I told him: “Well, we go to the University three days a week. What we do on the first day is that we memorize a twelve-line text and then we learn ten to twelve new words and after that we talk about some quotations. On the second day, we study how to study and after that we talk about phrases and quotations and finally review the ten to twelve words that we studied the day before. On the third day we memorize something else.” (Not to mention that while telling these, I tried to sound as sophisticated as possible)
And that’s when it hit me. In that very moment I realized how far away I was from where I wanted and expected to be. I knew that this was not what I was hoping for after I graduated from high school and this is probably the reason why I always have a guilty conscience when I’m leaving the University because I know that I have learned nothing worthy of the time that I have spent. I want to be educationally fulfilled when I’m in the university so that when I get home I can feel good about myself, knowing that I truly deserve to be called a student and don’t get me wrong here; I’m not trying to criticize the professors. I’m sure that they are merely victims of this ignorant and uncreative educational system that has no regard for individuals and their educational progress.
People often ask me about what creates the system in an attempt to tell me that we- and by we I mean us, students and the professors- are liable for what is happening to us right now and yes, we are responsible but only to a degree. We and our ambitions make the system but what forms our ambitions is very significant. We are result oriented rather than process oriented because of what our society forces on us. In a society that everything requires a diploma or a degree, it’s difficult to care about the process of obtaining that certification, thus the more we focus on the destination rather than the journey, the more we deviate from what we are truly supposed to be (good students). For instance it’s almost impossible to find a good, well paid job without an academic degree ( even if you are truly competent) in our society; yet we all know plenty of successful multi-billionaires in other countries who barely attended college like Bill Gates, Michael Dell or Mark Zucherberg.
What boggles my mind is when people tell me to read lots of books to satisfy myself and clear my conscience, well that’s an alternative but then what would be the point of going to university? Don’t we get into universities to have a productive, inclusive and satisfying experience while gaining the abilities to later provide for ourselves and the society? At least I think, this is how it’s supposed to be.
All I’m trying to say is that this is not what we really wanted to do as a student of English literature, is it?
And that is why I’m frustrated.