Originally Posted by Scott
So instead of studying for a midterm which I'm taking in approximately 15 hours, I'm rambling about the meaning of life and pointless stuff like that. What else is new?
Let's take a look at what the Average American™ might experience in his or her lifetime:
-The Average American child is raised by Average American parents and attends an Average American public school where he or she learns very much about rules and regulations and very little about anything pertaining to how the world actually operates (i.e. it's not what you know, but who you know - and in Above-Average America, who you can pay off).
-The Average American teenager is taught by Average American educators and parents not to experiment with drugs and alcohol. The Average American teenager experiments anyway simply because it's what "everyone else" does. The Average American educators and parents also experimented when they were teenagers, but Average Americans don't talk about that.
-The Average American college student cares very much about alcohol and very little about the state of the world outside of Average America. The Average American student learns more outside of class than inside it, yet somehow manages to graduate anyway. The Average American graduate earns a piece of paper which proves to Average American employers that he or she has jumped through the hoops required for an Average American (i.e. overworked and underpaid) job.
Cynical enough for you?
As someone who would consider himself to be a non-Average American, I find this system absurd. I came from a small town high school which was basically known for two things - its girls' basketball program and its teen pregnancy rate.
I was fortunate enough to be an "honor student" enrolled in "honors classes", so I wasn't exposed to as much ugliness as some of my friends, but what I did see was often sickening. During my Senior year, I took an Electronics course... I have never learned less about electronics in my entire life. In doing a house wiring project, the teacher seemed more concerned about the coloring of my wires than whether I actually had the wiring correct - probably because he wasn't skilled enough to discern it otherwise. Not to mention that, on most days, class only lasted half as long as it was supposed to; the last half of the class was "break time". It reminded me of Kindergarten.
At GHS, discipline was simple - the teacher/administrator was always right. If you were in the hallway during class, you were automatically a suspect. It didn't matter if you were called by a counselor or whatnot. If you were the poor shaggy kid who got hit in the face by the captain of the football team (who just happened to have a rich daddy), and you retaliated... I think you see what I'm getting at. If you looked "suspicious" or someone thought you "posed a threat", guess what? You were suspended, possibly with no questions asked. Just ask one of my friends who had to see a shrink before he could return.
Sometimes, my friends and I would refer to this high school as a prison. In retrospect, that's exactly what it was, and I wouldn't be surprised if yours was the same way.
But enough about high school. What about college? I left the previously mentioned craphole in hopes of something new, a place where I would experience true freedom. That's exactly what I got... sort of.
This freedom came with a price, a price that I'm not sure I was ready to pay at that time - nor am I sure I'm ready to pay even now. No, I'm not talking about the $40,000+ a year; I'm talking about the price of my time - every last drop of it. As awful as my high school was in comparison to Wash U, one thing I wish I could recover was the time and ability I had to explore topics of interest which the school didn't offer. As you can probably guess, technology was a major interest of mine. Though GHS had only a very limited computer curriculum (and it wasn't even a curriculum itself; it was lumped into "Business"), the classes I took were just enough to whet my appetite to the point where I would come home and install and test new software on the family computer (much to the chagrin of my parents). I can't say that about History. Were it not for those experiences, I'd probably be majoring in Psychology. ;-)
I can hear you saying, "But Scott, now you have so many more resources to work with! What's stopping you from devoting even more of your time to interests?" The answer: Classes!
It's not that I don't like Computer Engineering, because for the most part, I do. Unless you're talking about the workload. When I'm finishing with a ridiculous programming lab on the Friday night of Fall Break when I should be relaxing after an extremely rough MONTH, the last thing on my mind is, "Ooooh, I want to rewrite this C++ program in COBOL!" Or, for you non-geeks, "Ooooh, I want to read War and Peace in Swahili!" No, no, no, no, and most definitely no. In short, part of the reason I can't delve into my interests further is because I'm simply too burnt out by them. (The other part, of course, is lack of time... but I figure now is a bad time to argue that since I've just spent close to an hour writing this ginormous note.)
The Purpose of Education: Education is a tool developed by the Above-Average Americans to brainwash Average Americans into doing their work for them.
I don't want to be an Average American.