Stereotyping of “School”

“School doesn’t have anything to do with life.”
“Learning is boring! Exams suck!”
“Bill Gates dropped out of University!”

School is this and that!

My recent conversations with fellow students lead me to realize how the era of “learning revolution” could be serving as a self-fulfilling prophecy for the less-motivated students (or ALL students?). Plus, the PR regarding “learning revolution” may actually be discouraging students to pursue their intellectual curiosity.

Wouldn’t it be easier to blame one’s poor academic performance or lack of intellectual curiosity on the irrelevance of schooling? You bet it would.

Our minds love to pick out information that confirms with our perspective. For example, you will most likely accept that the exam was unfairly hard for everyone rather than accepting your poor preparation. Your brain constantly looks for ways to calm itself down. Its lazy. It does not want to go through the struggle of really figuring out why you failed that exam. Thus, it accepts the blunt statement that everyone found it hard and everyone failed! Also, we don’t like to stand out from the crowd – do we?

Stereotyping and Flawed Thinking

These generalization are same as any other stereotypes. Thus, like stereotypes, it functions as assumptions in our thinking.

For example, consider the following stereotypes:

Blonds are foolish.
Black people are good at basketball.
Canadians say “eh!” all the time. Eh?

The problem with assumptions like these is that they cause us to make basic – and often serious – mistakes in thinking. Because these stereotypes are not justifiable, they cause us to prejudge situations and people to draw faulty inferences and conclusions. For example, if we believe all blonds are foolish whenever we meet one we will act unfairly or unnaturally towards that person.

So, for an individual struggling with academics, the inference or conclusion he will make is that “School doesn’t have anything to do with life” so why bother? When in fact the underlying cause maybe time management, learning strategies, discipline, lack of motivation or not knowing one’s passion.

Real Questions to Focus on in School

This kind of stereotyping prevents students from focusing on important questions such as, “What does it mean to be an educated person? Why am I doing what I am doing? Will getting an “A” get me most out of this course? Instead, we tend to ask questions such as, “What do I need to do to get an “A+” in this course? How can I get last year’s assignments? How can I satisfy this professor?”

Key Takeaway

  • Don’t let the stereotyping of school serve as an inference to distort your thinking to achieve self-serving ends. Think critically about school and your personal goals only then can you make school work for you instead of you working for the school (not knowing where its taking you and why?)

Further Reading 
Book: What Best College Students Do by Ken Bain

5 comments On Stereotyping of “School”

  • you are right, most of the students are leaving school because of poor marks . I don’t know any anybody who graduated the university to say that they waste only time and money in university.

  • Another nice post, Jawwad. Keep them coming.

    I did my MBA for a few reasons: to fill the gaps in my business acumen, to gain a credential, and to gain access to networks/resources (namely Queen’s). And 3 years after graduating, I can enthusiastically say I achieved these goals and more.

    And it wasn’t simply because the Queen’s MBA program provided a fantastic experience, it’s because I took the initiative to take full advantage of the services offered, often those considered ‘optional.’

    For example, we have a full coaching program in place with only the team coaching mandatory. I also participated in personal, physical, and career coaching. I became part of the social committee and also co-led the Queen’s contingent at the MBA Games. I blogged as an ambassador on behalf of the program and also offered to welcome and answer questions for prospective students. I also helped judge case competitions involving Queen’s Commerce students.

    While I certainly wasn’t the best student in class (not even close :), I learned a lot, and a good portion of that happened outside of the formal program. No one forced me to participate in these activities, I wanted to because of the more complete experience it provided me.

    Queen’s Commerce students are extremely fortunate to have such a robust set of options for getting involved. For anyone who complains about school and its lack of value or relevance, remember that much learning takes place outside the classroom but it’s up to you to take initiative and take advantage of those opportunities.

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