I woke up this morning thinking about graduate school. To be more specific, my thoughts have been focused on Statistics classes. As a grad student in psychology, you were required to take four semesters of stats. My memories are not fond ones.
Nothing said pressure like a stats exam.
You had twenty people in a small classroom, everyone on top of each other, touching elbows. You could smell the anxiety in the room. The tests were all open book, and while this sounds helpful, it offered much less utility or comfort than you would think. Adding to the pressure, the desks were tiny — they were the old school, one-piece models where a half-desk is attached on the left side to the chair (If you were left-handed, you were pretty much screwed). When you opened the massive textbook, it dwarfed the entire working surface area. Good luck with your notebook, calculator, exam, and test booklet.
I remember opening one exam and feeling my mind going blank. The words and numbers on the exam appeared to be written in hieroglyphics. I took some deep breaths and waited for my panic to subside, but it just gathered momentum. Blank blank blank. My study partner Sandy sat next to me and sensing my distress, moved her paper closer so I get a good look to get my brain kick started (bless her heart). However, I was so freaked out I could not even cheat properly. The tests usually had only four or five problems, and when time was called, I did not answer one.
In the end, I still ended up with an A in the class. One reason was that the professor dropped your lowest grade (bless his heart). The other was that I started studying the old tests. You see, older classmates had been through the same hazing and if you bought them a beer every now and again, they were willing to share their collection of old exams from a particular professor. By dissecting the problems from old exams and working backwards with solutions in hand, I was able to figure out how to arrive at the correct answers. What’s more, the tenured professors tended to become lazy, so by looking into the past, you could anticipate the sorts of questions that would be on the exam.
I mastered a system, not statistics. I got an A in every stats course, but today, I’d struggle to calculate a standard deviation, let alone a regression analysis. If I were back in school today, under that same level of pressure, I would almost certainly adopt the same strategy that delivered the A’s.
My point is really this: so much of what I see and hear about education is about achievement and getting the grades that allow for advancement to “the next level” (i.e, college, med school, and now some kids get tested to gain admission to private pre-schools). There’s not much emphasis on learning in many current educational systems.
Pressure to achieve does not allow people to the proper space and time to gain awareness to where their true passions lie. My prediction? The more we continue to strap kids into this system from childhood, the more we can expect a crop of disillusioned 30-40 year-olds who have no clue who they really are or where they are truly built to thrive in life.
Okay, related to this, I have a question for you… (and yes, it leads to a wee sales pitch, but it’s a great product! 🙂
When was the last time you really studied something? Where you stuck your nose in some good books? Participated in stimulating discussions with other students? Argued a point? Had an old belief taken down like one of those old Vegas hotels after a demo job? Because studying and learning is one of the great joys of life.
Expansion + Evolution = Elation.
I learned a lot in college and grad school. However, most of the value of my education lies in learning how to learn (and how not to learn). As I look back, not very much of what I learned in the classroom stands out as particularly helpful in the game of life.
But I learned how to live independently. I learned how to think and write in a particular way. I learned how to get up in front of a group of people and make my case. I learned how to teach.
And today I have evolved into a passionate student and teacher of the Law of Attraction. I study and practice every day and as a result, my life continues to grow in the direction of freedom, ease, and connection. This is my passion; this is what I here to share.
If it’s time for you to engage in learning again — real learning — then I invite you to join me and a community of like-minded students in the Very Cool Life Network 2009 program. Deadline is Monday, January 5th!
There’s a free bonus call this afternoon on intentions and money for all students.
It’s way cheaper than a single college course. And I bet the return on investment is many, many times higher (I’d figure it out, but then I’d be back to the whole stats thing…)
In any case, now’s a good time to ask yourself…
“What am I learning that will improve the quality of my life in the next year?”