Tag Archive | education

Gloom

Today is one of those days where my strangeness is oppressive and slightly frightening. Normally I embrace it.

I’m intensely aware of how far my ideas have diverged from the mainstream and it frightens me what may await in the future yet. I can almost see myself turning into a solitary weirdo living in the woods somewhere, with cats and sheep. And having maybe one friend. Or it may just be a mental solitude. Inability to talk to anyone of anything beyond the daily stuff. I feel recently that I’ve become disagreeable and struggle more than before to find common ground with new people.

I’d like to become a therapist one day, but the university programme puts me off the idea. I happily study human anatomy or learn techniques of making people open up and improve, but there is not a lot of practical focus like that. I have also stopped seeing the point in all the course work. Exams should be enough to prove I understand, since proof of understanding is required. I’m not a circus monkey who has to demonstrate my skills in three tests, an essay and a presentation in addition. And that in 10 subjects per term. The entire Western education system of forcing students to perform so they get a nose bleed and caffeine overdose is not something I want to participate in. But that is only half of it. The biggest problem is incompatibility of values. My values are not academic or scientific. My values are artistic and spiritual. There is something in most lectures that I find grating. Yesterday it was seeing introversion listed among negative traits, along with aggressiveness.  Also, the only science I respect fully is the one free of ideology. And psychology is mostly not it.

If I ever talk militant or aggressive myself, it’s because I feel so out of place – the world is coming down on me like a ton of bricks.

I just don’t know what to do. Drag myself through the university circus or not? Facts are: a) I want to help people as a therapist b) I have talent for it c) university does not make my eyes shine and feels like a gigantic ordeal, so packed with unpleasantness that the end result is hardly worth it.

What I don’t like about schools

Everyone has different experiences with schools and the education system. Mine is  – all things considered – a neutral one. And yes, I can’t believe I’m saying this! Both the early school years and the later ones at university held for me disappointments and struggles as well as excitement and joys.

The struggles are primarily related to being a shy introvert. I’m fortunate to live in a society where you are not expected to speak a lot in class and can get away with contributing minimally. As a rule. But sometimes there are exceptions and I have received lower grades for my refusal to contribute or my very small contributions. Is this fair? As fair as slower students losing points on timed tests and nervous ones experiencing a drop in their thinking capacity during high-pressure exams.

It may amuse people to know that when I pick my subjects for the next semester, I do not make the choice – provided I have any choice – based on which subjects interest me more, but based on whether there are presentations and whether the grade includes participation in discussions. If it does, there is no way I will elect this subject. I have no problem with class participation in language classes or mathematics, for example. I can easily read out grammar sentences, getting it wrong does not mortify me to the point of wanting the ground to swallow me.

Quite a different matter is any class involving proper discussion or less straight-forward questions (e.g history, politics, sociology). Let us take a classic literature class. I love literary discussions and am always involved in my mind, but I’m not a good contributor. I need time to prepare my answer, so when I’m suddenly asked, I rarely can think of anything to say on spot. Anything sensible, that is. So I say something dumb and not representative of my real understanding of the subject. And then I feel really bad, because no one knows I actually understand. All they have is that impression based on my poor verbal performance. The grade is appropriate too, naturally. Although in my country, many professors and teachers have actually shown understanding and not been as strict as they could have with me. I appreciate you and am grateful.

What I’ve actually started doing to cope with this situation is to try to get through presentations and discussions with extremely low expectations on myself. Otherwise, persistent under-perfomance starts getting to me. I no longer tell myself to do well, I tell myself that it’s a success if you get through the ordeal without any blush-worthy statements.

I wish that one day the education system would learn to offer different assessment methods for introverts and extroverts. The latter love participation and presentations and do very well there, but may not be particularly stellar on paper. Introverts are the opposite. Why not let both types express their knowledge in forms best suited to their temperaments.

Have all these class participation things made me a better public performer? Absolutely not. Every situation is different and while I may eventually get the hang of doing presentations without my hands shaking, spontaneous participation in class will never be my thing and I’ve seen no improvement in that particular arena.