Most of the classroom knowledge we gain evaporates a few years after it is acquired. The lessons we keep are beyond the curriculum, the ones that ooze in from the environment around us.
In high school, my advanced placement classes taught me that I, along with the other privileged, white students belonged to a higher class–the one would inherit the world. We were hard-working, intelligent, optimistic and instilled with a sense of entitlement which was fathomless. Substitute teachers would occasionally lead our classes, which covered material beyond their ability to teach. They were frustrated by our collective condescension, our dismissal of their alternate lectures, and no doubt they were angered by our plain-faced declarations that they were only wasting our time. Upon returning, our AP instructors would listen with empathetic, tight-lipped smiles, as we breathlessly reported what we had endured.
College was a given. Higher education was the undisputed Good that the teachers, administrators and parents pushed us all towards. College was for people who didn’t want to be poor. We didn’t want that. These poor people lived unhappy lives, constantly struggling for money, spending it all on cheap beer, rusting cars and ramshackle homes. (In college, through job fairs, forums and other meetings specific to our disciplines, we would meet the affluent people whom we wished to become. These affluent people lived unhappy lives, constantly struggling for money, spending it all on expensive wine, sparkling cars and large, empty homes.)
In college I encountered people who were the same as my high school peers, only more so. They were more intelligent, more focused and more entitled than anyone I had met prior. These people seemed only interested in drinking copious amounts of beer and fornicating on lawns, but after a few years of academic struggle, I learned to regard them with jealousy rather than pity. I could no longer deny that I was their inferior. Whatever hours I devoted to study, I found myself constantly drowning, trying to explain to my department head why he should tolerate such a consistently underachieving student. (I still don’t have an answer for him.)
I hate college, but I continue to attend. Leaving now would effectively prove that the entire episode (along with all its associated debts) were for naught, so I continue to pursue my degree in a misguided effort to preserve the shadow of a purpose. Or maybe just for the sake of spite.
This decision is probably an illogical one. (Tests I took as a child, while positive overall, showed marked impairment in logic). Every thought in my head is a stuttering, nonsensical mess of conditions and contradictions. My beliefs live transient lives. They are birthed as faux epiphanies (moments of mental clarity in my mind occurring only when my logically circular paths have scraped out trenches so deep and so long as to disguise their curvature) and when they die I hardly notice.
Education is not for everyone. This I believe.