When we were young, parents and society had impressed upon us what to do, what to wear, and what to study. As we grow older, these impressions become increasingly subtle. Instead of reminding us to do homework every night, our teachers remind us to study for tests and most students obediently do so because they had already gotten so used to studying and obeying school authorities that they automatically accept it as the right thing to do.
How does this test contribute to my life? Other than putting a good number on a transcript that, unless you’re applying to academia positions, becomes virtually useless after graduation, it doesn’t. But despite this, most students still continue to spend dozens of hours studying subjects that they have no interest in and are likely to forget once exams are over.
Many authority figures, particularly parents and educational members, tend to believe that they know what’s best for us simply because we’re students and not because they personally understand our needs and desires. I’m sure many of these authority figures have good intentions but by telling us what we ought to study and ought to do based on our generic student status instead of a person-by-person case, their recommendations cannot apply to all students.
Do your homework. Finish your assignments. Study for tests. Get good grades. These are all fairly generic recommendations and they apply to most, and not all, students. As a result, they might be good advice for Bob but poor advice for Greg.
Now, I’m not saying that generic recommendations are bad or that parents and educational members are at fault for providing them. I’m saying that generic recommendations simply don’t fit all students because not all students are alike; we each have unique experiences and individual desires.
To blindly accept whatever advice comes our way is like browsing the Internet without a firewall: dangerous and susceptible to misinformed intent.
It is up to us to take charge of our own learning and prioritize which subjects to study and how much time to spend preparing for tests. By making our own decisions, we develop greater appreciation for what we learn and are more confident to apply our knowledge to solve practical problems. Thinking and deciding for ourselves enable us to gain more mastery in not only the subject we’re studying in, but also feel more fulfilled about our actions.