Getting/ got a bit disillusioned with school recently, especially when I do LH/PPT/QR – or rather, when I attempt to actually do them/ prepare for classes. Sometimes, it feels like there’s no point in doing these things, not when I don’t intend to major in any of them (barring philosophy), and not when any of them has any direct use in life.
But this is an attitude that I want to – and must – guard against, for it is an attitude that I had so detested back in high school, when the Singaporean society was being so practical, so pragmatic and so…Singaporean, where learning has to be ‘useful’ in order to be ‘good’. I hated that thought, and the sense of ‘learning as a lifelong journey’ – where you realise the more you know, the less you think you know – was what drew me to the liberal arts, and to Yale-NUS.
For me, it’s important that I remember what I believe in – that I must study not because of any pragmatic goal, but because I want to learn, and that learning is and should always be a lifelong journey. In the short time that we spend on Earth, it’s impossible for us to know everything. The boundaries of knowledge are constantly expanding and we can never truly know everything. What, then, is the purpose of studying, when you can’t be an all-knowing creature?
A year ago, what I wanted out of my education journey is one that lets me see the world and understand different perspectives. More than that, however, I wanted to do something that I like, without thinking of the potential utility. And that spirit of studying for the sake of learning is what I want to cling on to, especially in the face of grades and CAP and whatnot. Grades are important in leading you to your dream job – esp if you are talking about the Civil Service – but they are definite not the be-all and end-all of education.
Now, that sounds like a possible compromise on your dream, right? It sounds risky, like something that you would potentially regret. But is it really worth compromising on your present values and beliefs just for a future that you think/ hope you might get? No. In any case, you don’t have to let society’s goals and standards of success define you, you know.
I’m getting a little rhetorical and illogical, so I suppose I should end this soon. A quote from my workplace popped into my mind as I was typing the above: when you feel like quitting, think about why you started. I’m definitely not thinking of quitting, but I want to remind myself constantly of why I started and what made me choose this path, despite being able to do something more ‘useful’ and more ‘practical’.
Also, remember 诚信勇忠 – it’s no longer a phrase that my peers catch immediately, but it’s a principle that ought to last a lifetime.
I quote the school motto and remind myself of my belief in the face of tight deadlines, many papers that I can’t wrap my head around, and a messed-up life. In short, I’m trying to remind myself of what is truly important.