Listening to one of my all-time favorite albums, The Wall by Pink Floyd, gave me the spark to write something I've been wanting to write for a long time.
I'm used to writing about stuff and problems to which I have some kind of an answer to or at least some sort of a proposal to make. This is a little different because I'm not sure how to fix it since I don't think there's one "villain" at the root of this problem, such as the government, as it often is with the things that I ponder about.
The problem I have is the school system.
And I don't mean school being an indoctrination camp for "statists" or anything like that, no. Stuff like that is lame. I'm actually talking about the school system having this sort of a monopoly on giving people "qualifications", and businesses ranking people so much based on them. I live in Finland, so this is mostly from a Finnish point of view, things may differ in other countries, but I'd like to think that some similarities do apply.
A dilemma that I've always had with my life in this society is that I was never that good in school. In theory, I have, or had, the potential to be, since when I did listen and study, I was able to pass exams pretty easily, more easily than some others who studied harder than me on those particular exams. However, it was quite rare that I had the interest or the motivation to study at all. I've always been the type of person who gets really interested in something, spends his waking hours thinking and reading and discussing that particular point of interest, and forgets about everything else. It just so happens that whatever we were studying at school wasn't one of those topics of interest, more often than not.
I can legit name you all of World Wrestling Federation world champions from Buddy Rogers in April 1963 to AJ Styles in October 2016, without looking any of it up. And I've done it, too. Simply because at one point in my childhood, I had an internet connection and that just happened to be my area of interest. I didn't choose it, it just happened. That's how my brain functions. Later on, my areas of interest have varied from drugs to economics to cryptocurrencies to learning the mechanisms of comedic writing that allows me to understand that whenever you make a list like this, the fourth entry, after you've established the list, has to be a joke or a surprise in order to keep the text interesting.
Just whatever happened to grab my interest. I know a ton about a lot of stuff, but the big problem has always been that I've never been able to "time" them correctly. Meaning that I've always been interested in the wrong stuff at the wrong time - and it's taken my focus away from the stuff I should have been be learning, i.e. whatever was going on in school.
But I've learned a whole lot about stuff that was never even taught in school, proving that I do have the ability to learn.
And the issue lies with the fact that I don't have any impressive diplomas to show for any of that.
So, for a lot of my life I've been stuck with menial jobs, often working with people I've felt were a lot dumber than me, sometimes even working directly below people I felt were dumber than me. Don't get me wrong, good at what they did and everything, but still, I've spent a lot of time with the feeling that I really should be doing something else. It does hurt my heart a little bit every time I have a boss who doesn't know how to use proper grammar.
I don't mean to sound all egomaniacal, I'm by no means super smart, there a lot of people more successful than me that are a lot smarter than me. But I've often not felt comfortable working with a lot of the people that have simply not been on the same wavelength as me.
Later on, by a stroke of luck, I was able to discover sales jobs, which don't really require school diplomas or stuff like that, and I happened to get really good at sales, so I've been able to "beat the system" that way, but I still feel like I do have the potential to do much more.
Two people apply for a job. One has gone to school, gotten a degree and has it to show for oneself. The other one has studied the subject on one's free time, understands the subject, may even have great ideas regarding, but lacks the elusive school diploma to show for any of it.
The latter does not even get the interview. If the latter person even applies for the job, stating "I've spent a lot of time reading about this on the internet" it probably just causes a burst of laughter from whoever happens to read the application.
Of course, the government doesn't make things any easier by making it so expensive, risky and difficult to hire anybody, let alone someone who lacks the "proper" qualifications for the job. I'm sure job market regulations are one big reason for this, but I'm not sure if it's the only one.
The fact is that, at least over here, the school system was developed by middle-aged women, and sadly it does push aside a group of boys every year. People who fall out of society, out of the reach of a higher education or the job market are disproportionately boys. And I can absolutely relate to this.
To me, personally, the idea of learning something through "forced" memorizing, sitting still at classes, doing it all not when you yourself feel motivated to do it, but rather when you are ordered to, is unnatural. There are, I know, a lot of people, boys, and girls, who succeed very easily in the school system, and I envy them. I've always been a bit jealous of those who knew what they were going to do and study at a very early age, did the necessary work, got ahead and are now in high paying, meaningful and cozy jobs. That's how I've always wanted to do it!
But the way it works for me is that I can't really "control" what interests me at any given moment. I may think to myself that hey, I'd like to learn more about programming with Assembly, I'll work on that, but you know what, I'll first read through the entire Wikipedia about everything regarding World War II because the thought of doing that just kinda happened. And that's what I'll do, and I can do it for hours. Now, it's great if you're training for the international Trivial Pursuit World Championship, but not so much if you're trying to apply for a school and have a set amount of books to read, in order to get ready for the entrance exam - for example.
A lot of this is a personal problem, yes, with me being the faulty party, not the "system", necessarily. But I can't help but notice that I know a lot of people who are very intelligent, with a lot of stuff to give, to other people, to the market, what have you, but for whatever reason, they just never really fit in with the school system. As a result, a lot of these bright people are either working a pointless job with a shitty pay or not working at all because they can't seem to get even the most menial of menial jobs - because they lack any kind of a degree. Any kind of PROOF that hey, I'm not a moron, I can do stuff.
Lacking a degree is something that makes people think that a person is a loser, maybe an alcoholic, perhaps a drug addict.. something like that, since it's clear that there is something wrong with him, otherwise he would have gone to school and studied hard.
I can't think of one law that should be passed, or some law that should be written off, one government policy that should be gotten rid of in order to fix this problem, but it doesn't stop me from feeling that there is a problem.
It just seems silly to me that with the internet that gives us a basically unlimited access to an unbelievable amount of knowledge we're still stuck with this idea that schools and universities have a monopoly on "granting" you knowledge, a monopoly on deeming you worthy of doing something, anything. And it's not like it's a law or anything, I'd say that business owners are as guilty as some of the government policies that make it harder for people to find jobs. I'd like to see some sort of an attitude change regarding this. Or perhaps not the business owners, but whoever does the recruiting.
As it is right now, no matter how smart you are, if you do not, for whatever reason, fit into our school system, you have basically been locked away from the market of meaningful and interesting, high paying jobs, regardless of your potential to produce and contribute. If you don't make the right choices when you're young, say hello to the hard life.
I also don't care what anyone says, the fact is that passing exams is the way to get the nice jobs that keep you interested and motivated. Outside of starting your business - which is something that a number of people in this situation do - you are basically blocked from an entire area of life.
So, am I lazy? Well, you could say that. But if the opposite of lazy is studying hard, I'm not sure if I could be labeled as such, since I've spent a huge portion of my free time buying and reading books, listening to podcasts, having conversations and, well, studying a number of subject matters. I've just been doing it on my terms, which is more natural to me. Unfortunately, there's no one giving me a degree on something I studied on my own.
Oh, and the best thing? At every job I've ever had, I've had to learn how to do stuff at work. Every job has had to train me to do the work. Even sales jobs, I've worked in sales for years now, but whenever I've gotten a new sales job, I've had to learn how stuff is done at that particular job.
It's just beyond ridiculous to me whenever I scroll through a list of open jobs, and a spot is open for a customer service worker at a supermarket, which requires a degree in customer service.
What the f-ck?
I've worked with customers for years, been commended for my customer service, gotten a lot of positive feedback from customers, been able to turn extremely unhappy customers into happy customers, and I can't, for the life of me, figure out what it is exactly in customer service that requires three years of education in order to possess the necessary skills to smile at customers and answer their questions regarding your workplace - with stuff that you learn, not at school, but at your workplace.
Can anyone relate? Does anyone have any ideas, suggestions, etc. regarding this topic? Is the system broken, or am I?
But hey, never fear. If you're charismatic enough, there's always politics.