Tuesday, October 03, 2006

As we move closer to the 'A' Levels, our J2s are very much aware that they are approaching a big hurdle they have to clear before they can move on to the next stage in their education process. But while their eyes focus on the obstacle itself and how insurmountable it seems, how many of them have thought about what awaits them on the other side?

It takes 12 years of schooling on average to qualify as an undergrad. Within that time, how much knowledge in our basic disciplines -- language, math, the sciences, aesthetics -- have we already crammed into our minds in order to just sit for our entrance exams? Well, from our J2s' perspective, a lot. The endless late nights beating their heads on page after page of textbook material and lecture note scraps, and bits of tutorials they're still trying to make some sense of; while the X-box is mouldering away in the living-room (though Dad the dinosaur still dusts it off occasionally to play Tetris on).

All this sacrifice, we hope, gets us into our first tutorial room as a freshman at the uni. If we've made it this far, we've got to remember how smart we have had to be to get here. A moment of pride is justified.

However, within the 3-4 years of study till the time we receive our undergrad degree, we will learn only 1 lesson, and it will be the most important one we will ever learn in our lives. That lesson we will remember, as we step up to shake the Dean's hand, is that everything we've learned in our now 15-16 years of study add up to a staggering sum total of absolutely nothing.

The receipt of our degree is a humbling occasion rather than a proud moment. It's the time we actually see the vast ocean of knowledge for what it is, and we are finally convinced that what we know amounts to less than a drop in that ocean.

If we have learned this lesson, we are firmly placed on the path of wisdom, and our Education has actually meant something. But if we we think that receiving that piece of paper shows the world how smart we are, then I'm sorry to say that we've wasted our time.

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