23. Get the paper and move on

One by one, the teacher assessed everyone’s creations. Alright, bring it on. After years of ‘higher’ education, the assignments remained a piece of cake. Quick damp finger-work that leads to nowhere is frustrating. Being naughty hopefully results in more action. That’s why I investigated the life’s work of an expert – reinventing the wheel is just a waste of time. I rubbed my hands when it was my turn. In a short yet powerful fashion, I explained why I had diverged from the assignment. I exposed my illusion of knowledge without any shame. His verdict was straightforward: ”sheer nonsense”. What?! I snarled that the whole course is utter nonsense. That we don’t learn anything useful and never get challenged. Briefly, I went all out on the poor standards. After I’d finished, I received some witty feedback once again. “Save these notes for the student council.” I sat down while laughing out loud. As the turn went on, I retorted. Others calmed me down. Alright, alright… Breathing in, breathing out. Be the end of the lecture, he requested me to prepare a topical presentation for next week. All right, see you then. Criticizing without setting a good example is the easy way out. Which I dislike.

I went to the canteen with two buddies of college. There they made fun of my outburst. Still, they were quite shocked about it. So was I. I was already doing ‘well’ after publicly mocking several classmates and providing lousy publicity during the open days. Apparently, the dissatisfaction regarding the low standards, the culture of mediocrity and ‘being busy with nothing’ was more profound than I thought. They recognized it all too well. As members of the student council, we smirked about his suggestion. We often shared suggestions for improvement during these sessions. In our experience, nothing was done with them. It was merely a calculated show for the stage. That’s why this ‘letter-writer’ decided to address the whole team of teachers. I left the ECTS-factory by the library. On route, I passed hordes of ambitious talent which were tied up on click-and-scroll opium. You’ve got to do something during the ‘best time of your life.’ Never before has ignorance been such a clear choice instead of an inevitable fate.  Nowhere was the pauperization more evident than in the traditional stronghold of knowledge and progress.

Everything was on paper by midnight. I checked the charges against this pedagogical decay. The incoherent educational structure, outdated projects, marginal integration of professional literature and overly excessive teamwork were pretty spot on. The same applied to persistent free-riding, dispensable side-issues, simplistic hypothesis and the sacred rituals of management. In my plea, I emphasized the importance of adaptability, in-depth content, holistic thinking, fundamental reflection and a genuinely critical work-attitude. In my opinion, we should learn more about disruptive developments and the bigger picture. But what I criticized the most was the ‘new’ self-study system. In many ways, the ‘do-it-all-yourself-together’ method was a continuation of the previous century: fixating yourself to occupational cubicles. Rather than how to think, I was mostly trained on what to think. ‘Out of the box’ thinking was allowed, as long all the protocols, guidelines and parameters of the institute were obeyed. Deep thinking could be done to a certain extent. With Google as the head lecturer and students correcting each other, the learning curve remained as flat as a dime. Clarity, contact hours, challenges, instructions, everything was minimal. The result? A hollow ‘yes-amen’ echo chamber with a deep base. Under such circumstances, I questioned the added value of ‘studying.’ Somewhat cynically, I stated that a self-made educational trajectory would be a better way to spend my time. By today’s means, decent education doesn’t seem too much to ask for. Instead, so many things were lacking: spirit, inspiration, creativity, authenticity, the rough edges. So this is learning without learning. Hopeless. Satisfaction lacks in education that doesn’t educate (I didn’t attend the graduation ceremony in the end).

I was wide-awake in bed. It was great to write it all out of my system. Yet my brain play triggered some discomforting realizations. I fell between two stools within this educational system. The idealistic perfectionist within myself reinforced this friction. One which was fundamental by nature. What I want can’t be acquired in an institute, company, association, sector or profession. The whole notion of ‘a lifelong profession’ felt very unnatural. So I automatically fall by the wayside. I didn’t pick the ‘wrong’ course. Part of the friction was caused by the dutifulness of studying. In the urge to acquire a starting qualification. The (perceived) necessity prevailed instead of a conviction. And that’s not so far-fetched. There’s no escape of the school desks due to the fragmented labor market, degree-fetish and degree-inflation. Sooner or later, these desks are outgrown. As the years went by, the feeling of wasting my time intensified. It wasn’t a question of if I would be fed up with it all, but when.

A refreshing night walk cleared my head. All the tension vanished. You showed concern and involvement, that’s all you can do. Let it go. Some work forty years for their Master, then four years for some ‘training’ is no big deal. Don’t act like a victim or get stuck on the negative side. Take matters onto your own hands. Take advantage of available opportunities, create what you have in mind. Pursue better forms of development and growth. Spend your energy on something that provides instead of drains. Stay curious, keen, eager to learn. I realized that the key was in my hands. More ‘evidence’ in the form of diplomas or certificates was unnecessary. Simply get the Bachelor of Bullshit Education and pass the station of institutional education. Maybe until someday, maybe until never. See ya.

Mark Twain didn’t let his schooling interfere with his education, he hits the nail on the head.

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