Throughout five years of studying for an engineering degree at the university, I can barely remember the content of any lecture we received. But I still clearly remember a particular class with a lecturer in my final year.
It was a regular day at the lecture hall. The lecturer was trying to explain a complex process involving a set of equipment to the class. The class could notice his confusion and discomfort as he tried to explain this concept to the students. The more he tried the more confused we got and the more questions students had to ask.
Suddenly, the lecturer paused for what seemed like a minute as he stared at the students. He appeared to have given up on trying to get us to understand. Then he said something I have never forgotten. He said something along this line, “See, I have tried to explain this as best as I could understand it. I have never seen this equipment before. I only read this from the text book. If you want to pass your exam, so that you can graduate, then you have to memorize what you see in the textbook. But know that your life outside here does not depend on these things we are teaching you here”.
I believe that was the most honest thing I’ve ever heard a teacher or lecturer say to his students.
One, he admitted ignorance. Admittance of ignorance is not a trait you often find among teachers. Teachers appear to know everything about their subject, or at best – especially in the more democratic part of the world – they have an opinion they expect students to challenge. But admitting they don’t know? Especially something within the scope of the topic of the day – that is something you don’t hear often.
Two, he admitted an important flaw in our education system – regurgitating information. Why sit through a lecture to listen to someone who has no idea what they are talking about? Often, the best of our lecturers were not necessarily people who have more experience in the field. Rather they are those who are better at comprehending a complex subject and passing down the information to students.
Three, he gave us options. The deal was if you don’t want to get an extra year, just memorize the information and regurgitate it at the exam hall. In other words, just give the system what it wants from you, but don’t expect to get from the system what you want from it.
After years of Pondering over this incident, I was able to draw a simple lesson from it;
…no one is coming to save you!
Seriously, no one is coming to save you. And this is not because everyone has bad intentions towards you. As a matter of fact, even those with good intentions, like my lecturer, don’t have it all figured out enough to offer you the salvation you seek.
My lecture long understood that what they have been teaching us is either outdated and irrelevant information or just an act to fulfill an obligation. The lecturer has no incentive, to be honest with us for over a period of 5 years of lecturing. Rather his incentive is driven by his ability to stick to the status quo. This is where his self-interest lies. To change the incentives of a faulty system, you’d need the incumbents to go against their own self-interest to change incentives. As you’d already guessed, this is not happening anytime soon.
Something is Wrong with our Society today
Our society today is more interested in busyness than actual results. Just taking action is more important than the consequence of the action, as long as it has the backing of a large institution. Think about foreign aids for example. By the time these foreign aids get to the purpose it was meant for, 80 to 90% of the fund had disappeared. Apart from corrupt practices, a good chunk of the money is spent on administrative, employment, and public relations purposes. By the time it gets to executing the actual project or whatever the purpose of the aid is, almost nothing is left. Yet every year, multilateral organizations and governments seat at round tables to talk big numbers of funds distributed in aids.
Take another instance; the media. The media today is out of control; fake news, click baits, and fear-drive have taken over. If I had to recreate that incident with my lecturer with internship training by the editor-in-chief of a news agency, I would imagine him saying to us, “We are not here to be objective. We are here to tell people what they want to hear. If you want to keep your job, fill the air with fear and controversy. But know that what you do here does not represent who you are.” There is a lot of pretense with the major institutions of the society – from the education and political systems to the media. Like my lecturer, the people within the system realize something is fundamentally wrong but choose to pretend all is well, because, well they are just doing their job.
The bottom line is this. Understand the difference between the way you think things should be versus the way they actually are. This brings us back to the same thing I have said over and over on this channel. Your only chance at finding success – whatever success means to you – is taking personal responsibility.
Take personal responsibility
People are willing to do almost anything but look in the mirror. The prevalent culture today is one that normalizes blaming everyone but yourself for not just some, but all the problems in your life. Too many people in society have given up hope on themselves altogether, and they’re now relying on a savior.
The media and altars of institutions in high places drive this narrative deeper into our brains because their power and influence are dependent on our looking up to them. Can you imagine a politician campaigning for votes and telling voters that the government is not responsible for creating jobs? Would you vote for such candidate?
But for sanity sake, it is better for you to believe you are responsible for your lives outcomes, whether or not that’s actually true. You don’t have the time to wait for a perfect and equal society. You’re going to die. And while you’re alive, no one is coming to save you. Of course, there are many societal problems that need to be solved — a lot of which affects you directly or indirectly. But what are you going to do about it, other than to be responsible for your own life.
Nobody is coming to save you on an individual level. And even when they try, you may end up making a mess of it. Actions have consequences. You can create many new problems by solving old ones. Take, for instance, fishing. If you give a man fish today, and out of your compassion and benevolence you make him believe he was going to get free fish every day; you may think you are saving him from hunger, but you have just destroyed his innate human desire to be independent. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
On the other hand, you can decide to teach him how to fish so that he can learn to be self-dependent. But he has to be willing to learn. If not there isn’t anything a hundred of your kind can do for him. It is his willingness to take responsibility, and seize the opportunity to develop himself that will make all the difference in his life. And even if you are no longer there when he comes to this resolution, he will find another opportunity because the world makes way for the man who knows where he is going.
Haven’t you experience this before? You know someone going through a difficult time. You honestly want to offer help that could have a long-term effect. But because of how they think about themselves and their situation, you just cannot help them. That’s the point. People may be available to offer a helping hand, but the ultimate responsibility lies on your shoulders.
Has life been fair to you? That’s unlikely. But what are you going to do about it? Remember; no one is coming to save you. You have to take personal responsibility. This video seems like a rant. But it’s something I think about a lot. And I have a feeling that there is someone this video is for. I hope that person finds it. What are your thoughts? Please share in the comment section below. If you are yet to subscribe to After School TV, now is a good time to hit the subscribe button. Until next time, YOUR SUCCESS MATTERS!