Monday, July 14, 2008

Educating Edward

Not too long ago the results for my college degree were released, as it transpired I missed out on the top grade available by about 1 or 2% overall, which I must say is a bit annoying to say the least. When I saw the results I just sat and stared (and listened to supertramp) at the computer screen and decided to feel incredibly sorry for myself for quite some time. During this time however it gave me an opportunity to really think about the importance of it all.

Did the fact that the number on the screen was slightly smaller than one I wanted to see make a monumental difference? Did it affect all the great things I got out of my time in college?

The next morning when the initial wallowing in self pity had worn out I decided that the grade itself was of practically no consequence, and in reality I had got a first class time out of college.
Some of my friends however have not taken so kindly to their grades and to this day feel hard done by and even worse genuinely believe that by not achieving a 1st class honours have wasted 3 years of their lives. This however, (for them) could be fairly accurate.

As I said about the recent case competition I attended, if your single purpose of attending was to win (or get a 1st class honours), and you end up coming 2nd, then to you the whole thing has been a pointless waste of time. Once you recognise that grades/rank/etc are only a PART of college, you can enjoy the journey, get involved outside of coursework and get the full benefit from the experience.

The whole grade fiasco reminded me of the movie “Educating Rita” which I saw recently. There is a brilliant scene near the end of the movie where Rita, having transformed from a working class woman to student of English literature, announces to her lecturer that she doesn’t need him anymore, “I don’t need you, I know what wine to buy, what clothes to wear, what plays to see, what papers and books to read and I can do it without you”. The lecturer (played very well by Michael Caine) responds brilliantly with “Is that all you wanted… Have you come all this way for so very very little?”. I like to think that the lecturers remark is applicable to grades from college too, not that I am saying that barely scraping by is ok, but once you are above a certain point, the grade itself becomes rather arbitrary.

So I think at the end of this rather unstructured rant, I am trying to say is that, by setting the wrong targets and awarding them a disproportionate weight, a person can preclude themselves from important aspects, experiences and outcomes of any activity…
Rant over… I think