I had an epiphany. And it has to do with WHY I am so bitter toward the public school system. I always knew there was something broken. Something wasn’t right. I felt jipped. One-size fits all schooling always rubbed me the wrong way. And of course there is the problem with propaganda, indoctrination, and rewritten history. But even that isn’t the main problem (and that’s saying a lot!) I could never put my finger on anything more specific until now.
Mastery. They never encourage Mastery.
Mastery pertains to perfecting a particular skill set. To reach mastery, authors Malcolm Gladwell and Robert Greene claim that 10,000 hours of work will have to be put into training. (source)
Throughout history, very successful people lived out their potential for one reason. It wasn’t because they were all committed and scholarly participants in the public education system. In fact, many people we admire for their success had little to no luck with conventional schooling. I’m not going to name names because you know it’s true. Think of someone you admire. They pioneered a topic, a skill, an area of study. They didn’t become successful by regurgitating lessons from textbooks.
There is absolutely no emphasis on mastering any skill in the public education system. We come out of school at almost twenty years old as jacks of all trades, masters of none. And with no idea what we’re passionate about because everything we have been taught was so damn BLAND. Eighteen years and nothing to show for it. Then we are told we should do a minimum of four more years of school only to keep learning the art of information regurgitation. Only after twenty-two years of life are we thrown out into the world, all having the same shallow knowledge and no actual skills to produce anything.
In generations past, trade schools were encouraged. But even that is poo-pooed now. They say it’s for the best. They say a degree is necessary to have, something to “fall back on” if things don’t work out. I don’t see it that way. I see it as a waste of time. I see a system that profits off of complacent, skill-less, economic slaves who are fearful of jumping off the corporate hamster wheel for fear of death by school loan debt. What good does a piece of paper do when the economy crashes? What good does a piece of paper do if you have no skills? What happens when everyone has a Bachelor’s degree–does then no one have a Bachelor’s degree?
To be clear, I don’t believe that all degrees are created equal. Even the same degree will mean something different for two different people. What you put into something is what you will get out of it. If you are pursuing a degree to master a skill and attending school is the best way to acheive the mastery of said skill, more power to you. But if you are pursuing a degree because that is what you’ve been conditioned to think will guarantee you success and security, you’re making a big mistake. Before you secure a future consisting of working a job you might not like at a company you will probably like less to pay off school loans you had to take out to get said job, think. Put some thought into the lifestyle you are signing up for.
My issue though is actually more with k-12 schooling. A lot of people will say that they learned the tools necessary to be able to learn about other things in those years. I am aghast if you actually think that it takes 13 + years to learn how to learn. In my humble opinion, the things you learn in undergraduate classes during Freshman and Sophomore years of college should have been learned when you were twelve. But that’s the result when a system is in place that cares about quantity over quality. It takes forever.
Truthfully, the system is outrageous. Time is wasted–LIVES are wasted. At eighteen years old, people should not be floundering. Too often I hear the excuse made for teenagers, “Oh, he’s just young, he doesn’t know any better yet.” No. I won’t accept that. Perhaps the reason he doesn’t know any better is because he was prevented from obtaining any skills for almost 20 years. I expect more from people at eighteen, everyone should. What are we waiting for? At eighteen years old, you should be an adult. The only reason eighteen year olds are not adults is because of public schooling. They have been cooped up, sheltered, and prevented from mastering any skill and pursuing any passion.
There should be no one at eighteen years of life who has not yet discovered their passion and their calling.
In fact, with an effective system, by eighteen years of life, you should have something mastered or be on your way to mastering something. There is no excuse for a system that produces completely skill-less eighteen year olds who wouldn’t be able to make a living doing anything but entry-level jobs. I think eighteen year olds would agree. I know I would have been much happier had I been encouraged to to find my calling rather than forced to regurgitate information day after day. And it’s not that the concept of Mastery is simply unmentioned–it’s not encouraged! How degrading. Teenagers are mentally and physically in the beginning stage of the prime of their life. And the system just sits on it. Lets it accumulate dust. It doesn’t give a damn.
The fact that it is rare to find an eighteen year old who knows their calling and their passion is appalling. EIGHTEEN YEARS! As an adult, think of all the things you could accomplish in eighteen years. Now think about all the things you didn’t accomplish in the first eighteen years of your life. And for what? You learned about a lot of things. None of which are of one ounce of importance to you right now. And if something was interesting to you, that interest was squelched because you had to learn the required curriculum. You could have mastered something. But it isn’t encouraged. You had to learn the exact same thing everyone else was learning so you could be exactly like everyone else.
This may sound like a bunch of conspiracy nonsense but I encourage you to think this through. Do you truly believe you were put on this earth to live an existence of mediocrity? To know and believe the same things as everyone else? To work a job that you hate? Do you feel a lack of direction in your life? Do you feel bored by every day life? If you feel like you are living out your calling, I salute you. That is rare–and I wish it wasn’t.
I suppose I should feel lucky because a lot of people have this epiphany at 50 years old. You know, the mid-life crisis. I’m only 26. But if I’m pissed about this now, I can only imagine how upset someone twice my age would be at the realization that they’ve been duped into a lifestyle that is meaningless.
So, what am I going to do about it? I’m going to master my passions. It’s called self-education and everyone should be doing it. I’m going to learn things that I can only learn when pursued out of passion with commitment and dedication.
The problem is, most people don’t even know what they’re passionate about. To master something, you have to be passionate about something.
What are you naturally good at?
What do people thank you for?
What topic could you talk about for hours on end?
What kind of people inspire you?
What qualities in other people do you admire?
At your funeral, what do you want people to remember you for?
Think on these questions. Figure it out. Let me know in the comments what your true passions are. I want to know!
“Take a job that you love. I think you are out of your mind if you keep taking jobs that you don’t like because you think it will look good on your resume. Isn’t that a little like saving up sex for your old age?” – Warren Buffett
If you’re wondering who you should blame for these crazy ideas in my head, it’s Robert Greene. He wrote the book entitled Mastery. If you haven’t read it, do it now. It will change your life.
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