Education vs Success

Today was my Humanities midterm. I didn’t care to study for it too much, since the sample prompt online made my head hurt. It asked me to define terms and explain “what it means to live in a place with these things” – probably the most poisonous way of thinking to me. “What Does It Mean To Be?” questions are meaningless, because there’s no purpose tied to it. If you give a purpose then it’s significantly easier even if I think the purpose is something I disagree with. But they didn’t give me anything. “What does it mean to have illegal immigrants?” Well… in relation to what?

I walked into class today and saw the prompt, was like “Okay, pick 8 items, 1-2 paragraphs of identification and explanation, got it.” I was done with four paragraphs when I asked the proctor to write up how much time was left and he wrote up 12:40 (12:10-1:30). I started to panick and wrote a few shorter paragraphs before realizing what I was supposed to do. Ideally since there’s two things the prompt asks for, it’s guaranteed 2 paragraphs each, which means 16 paragraphs total. 90/16 is approximately 6 minutes. You can’t write a decent paragraph in 6 minutes, much less write on 8 different topics. So I decided to skip one and write on 7 items instead, thinking the volume-quality tradeoff would benefit me in the end.

I asked the professor afterwards what kind of paragraphs he wanted out of 6 minutes per, but he said the “1-2 paragraphs” was written on the prompt was just so people wouldn’t write single sentences, saying.

I almost asked him if I accidentally took a high school class because I wasn’t paying attention during registration. And then I almost corrected myself to say middle school.

To be perfectly honest, it is my fault for not doing the math in my head the previous class and realizing 6 min per is not possible for the types of paragraphs I write. If I had asked earlier and noticed the discrepancy earlier, I would not have spent so much effort, and thus net benefit. But really? You worry that students might give bullet point and single sentence answers on a midterm? I thought I was attending a prestigious university. Actually no that’s not even the problem, this kind of thing shouldn’t be in any institution of higher education. If you get that kind of answer in a non math/sci class on a midterm and the entire midterm is just identify and explain 8 points, you should probably fail them.

But that’s kind of what we get for funding education and having this culture we do.

The government funding education does not mean it is funding learning. All this stuff I hear from my peers about how college is becoming more expensive or whatever and how it can all be solved if government just funded education more, it’s almost as if they don’t know what they’re talking about. First of all, how does funding something make it better? It’s as if these people have lived through media and closets all their lives.

When government funds education, it is funding graduation rates (I would cite someone but I forgot who I read it from). There’s a reason why the state-wide and nation-wide tests at elementary and high school levels are getting easier and easier every year, and it’s not because it will help us become competitive on the international stage. It’s because schools get more money if they fail fewer kids, and since all schools are doing that and nobody wants parents to think their children are getting less intelligent, the tests themselves have been simplified. When I started in 2nd grade, the STAR test or whatever it was called was actually pretty legit. It was on par with what I was doing in KUMON. I spent the whole time focused and sometimes didn’t even finish, and the results were probably the most anticipated thing of the year. But by 6th grade, it was a joke. By 10th grade when I needed to take the high school exit exam, it was literally a waste of time. Each section was finished with 90 minutes left to spare, I finished my book and wrote the lyrics to Badger Badger Badger on the edges of every page. And then I spiralled my way into the center on the “STOP: Do Not Continue” page. And I still had time left over. Personal stories aside,

If you increase graduation rates, the supply of graduates increase. Supply increase for stable demand means lower price. Price for labor is called “Wages”. Add that to the fact that we have minimum wage laws, and there is also a lower limit on what people can be hired for, and what jobs can be sought. Price floors create surplus: there are people willing to sell something and people willing to buy something at the same price, but that price is “too low”. Surplus in labor is called “unemployment”. Make fewer engineering and productive jobs and more unproductive service jobs via environmental control and higher taxes on whatever those things are, raise supply of high school graduates, continually raise minimum wage… anyone who knows anything about economics knows that this creates unemployment.

Actually no, I take that thing I said back. If anything, living in the closet and only experiencing life vicariously through media all your life gives you even less excuse to believe that government funding will solve anything. Everywhere you look in media there’s stories of the underdog, those who come from poor and harsh backgrounds with no funding and only their hands, brains, and will to bring themselves up to glory. I don’t remember the last time a story actually just had the rich snobby kid win without some other kind of motivational message. Fundamentally, it is not material or capital that gets you somewhere. It is entrepreneurship. Having talent and funding won’t get you anywhere.

Cliche: “Hard work beats talent, until talent works hard.”

America has already passed the threshold where high school graduation is worthless. Everyone knows this. Not too far from now, the same will happen to college degrees. In General Chemistry, the average uncurved score on the midterms and finals was about 60%. In Humanities, it will be around 85%. Is this really a surprise to anyone? “Math and Science are hard, Arts and Humanities not so much”? Any college student will agree. Any person anywhere will agree.

Now ask them if they think it’s worth paying 30,000 USD a year to have their intelligence, pride, and financial future be tested by people who only want you to write paragraphs as opposed to bullet points and sentences.

The answers will vary.

In an environment where it is difficult to survive, only a few will ever emerge, and they will all be alike. In strategy games, the same strategies and openings always happen and can always be expected because they win games consistently. In nature, given a certain niche, the animal in question will always have some form which fulfills some function. Predators have forward facing eyes. Fliers have hollow bones. Fish are streamlined. This is not because they want to look pretty. It’s because every one of their ancestors’ cousins and siblings died because they weren’t suited for it. This is why freeing farm animals is a stupid idea. Sure, they’ll have their freedom. But within three generations they would all die. Pigs aren’t suited for anything anymore because they’re fat as fuck and can’t run can’t hide can’t do anything. They won’t be able to adapt fast enough. Cows, no muscle. Chickens, nothing at all.

Children today are those farm animals. Not too surprising, since they all lived through 12 years of bells and shuffling around crowded halls eating crap and doing the same things day in day out with no dreams at all.

The answers will vary because they have never seen a demand for order. They should not vary, because the world does demand order.

But they will.

It won’t be dumping more money that saves [insert group here]. It will either be [themselves] or they will fail. Simple as that. Every single time. All other stuff – aid, charity, clubs, groups – is irrelevant if that basic drive does not exist. To say that the way to save [insert group here] from [insert problem here] is to give them more [money via some source] is hair-splitting and failing at fundamentals. Yes, helping people can be a fundamental thing. But until other fundamentals are established, worrying about helping others on a political level is hair-splitting.

To those who disagree, I have nothing more to say.

“Let me stress that two evenings a week will not be enough to get good at Kendo. No way in hell.”

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