BC students (PC years 35 and 36) at RaceRocks, taken by Mark Kelsey. Spring 2010.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Not Just Another IB Rant

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education”
- Mark Twain

During my terrifying seven-person-panel, shivering-in-my-boots interview for Pearson College, I vividly remember one question at the end: “What can you gain from an education at Pearson that you cannot at your current school?” It is a good question. I think it also boils down to the fact that we are here not just because we can do well academically. I believe we were chosen because of what made us stand out, our non-academic talents, and why we were thought to have “exceptional promise and potential.” It was our creativity, our sense of responsibility, our leadership. Anyone who works hard can have a first class standing in over half of their subjects, but can anyone help create a more peaceful and sustainable world? After a wearily academic first term, sometimes I feel saddened that perhaps our schooling interferes with our education at Pearson.

Now many of us have the idea that marks and an education are so interrelated that it’s hard to tell them apart. For this purpose what exactly is an education? Well Wikipedia states: “Education in the broadest sense is any act or experience that has a formative effect on the mind, character or physical ability of an individual. ...” Reliability of that source aside, maybe an education is what we learn each day, in and outside of the classroom. I think we are privileged here because of our stunning natural environment, a world-class international community, and the opportunities to pursue whatever we are passionate about. Pearson is not just about attaining an I.B. diploma, it is about making connections that span the globe and a lifetime.

Now how can we take full advantage of this golden ticket while our head is buried in textbooks for up to seven hours a night? I am not going to submit to any more I.B. complaining, because we hear enough of that. Instead I would urge us to remember that Pearson is not just a chance to get into a good university or do well in I.B. I fully realize that an education is also cultural, and marks and grades differ in importance. I recognize that achieving our dreams requires us to do well on our tests. But once we leave school and enter the world as change-makers what is really going to have the impact? Is it going to be that we can write a stellar essay (albeit writing well is an important skill) or that we can forge friendships across ideological and political borders? Is it that we can problem solve and negotiate or that we can do calculus? Maybe it is both.

I have always been concerned with how we are educated and assessed. I’m convinced that regurgitating information and memorizing words is the bulk of what we do. At Pearson we are blessed with wonderful teachers and interesting courses. Some of the most influential and memorable experiences I’ve had, are standing on Racerocks during a marine science fieldtrip watching orcas, or sitting outside and talking about anthropology, or making videos about Othello in English. These creative and hands-on approaches to education are infinitely more powerful than a billion powerpoints. I’m grateful for these chances to actively learn. It is how we learn best - learning from each other.

All I am trying to say is please do not become consumed by school alone. Allow yourself the luxury of stargazing. Take time to talk about global issues. Speak to your roommate about where he or she lives. Wander in the woods. Swim in the ocean. Do all the things that you would never be able to do anywhere else. Don’t be fooled into thinking your predicted grade is your self worth. Develop your heart and your mind. Grow not just intellectually. Learn in every endeavour, not just when you are in a classroom.

So what are you going to remember at the end of this? What will you say in ten years? What is most important to you? You are here for a reason, what can you gain here that you cannot at home?

And when you feel like it, do your homework and your studying. It will still be there after a day of adventures, patiently waiting for you to attend to it.

1 comment:

  1. Very nice post emmy!
    I would love to hear more about your interview!