In one of my first blog posts, The Case Against Being Sheeple, I quoted Seth Godin who said, “Public school is an artifact of the industrial age. It was invented by industrialists, who needed compliant factory workers.” In college, I started to feel this on a deep level. I felt as if I was being trained to do as I was told. There was a very set system in place, and in order to succeed in this system (get good grades), it was best to follow the well-worn path. I found there was very little room for curiosity, discovery, and imagination. If I desired to pursue those aspects, it had to occur outside of the classroom, because new, innovative ideas weren’t covered on the upcoming test.
I believe higher education needs a drastic change; a revolution. It’s not okay to spend the four most crucial years of our lives not learning about ourselves. I truly believe college, experienced in the most impactful way possible, is all about self-discovery. In an ideal world, the purpose of college for the student would be to pursue self-discovery. Subjects like history, English, and science would be a part of the curriculum, but not the priority. The purpose of the college itself would be to facilitate that self-discovery, rather than requiring the relentless memorization of an array of irrelevant subjects.
We no longer live in a world ruled by industrialists who simply require compliant factory workers. The world needs people who have used college to come alive; people who have a clear understanding of themselves and what they want to do with their lives. The way higher education is set up now, self-discovery is not something that’s necessarily encouraged, but instead it’s an aspect of college that may be inadvertently stumbled upon. Adversity forced me to look within myself. A breakup during my freshman year allowed me to open my eyes to all areas of my life, and made me really rethink what was going on around me. Without that significant event, I truly believe I would have just continued to mindlessly sit through class, and I absolutely would have missed out on my own self-discovery.
Self-discovery is vitally important, because now more than ever, we need people who will greatly contribute to the world. Without self-discovery, it’s hard to even figure out what your place in the world is, let alone contribute something of value to it. The future is a very precious thing. Either we can take massive steps forward, or stay the same, and staying the same would endanger our very existence, because evolution is everything. I can promise you this: factory worker minded people, who just do what they’re told and don’t create, will not contribute to massive steps forward.
I implore anyone involved in education to take some time to look at the big picture. Tests don’t matter, grades don’t matter, and sometimes the jobs we get as a result of college lead to mediocrity rather than genuine happiness. Happiness comes from not only doing what you love, but also from growing as a human being. In the grand scheme of things, it’s only the students themselves that truly matter. What is most valuable to them, and to the future of our world, is to make self-discovery the absolute priority.