The most taxing moment of my January has to have been two weeks ago: the time I opened blackboard and downloaded my first course syllabus for the semester. Looking at that depressingly familiar header, the name of the professor, office hours, lecture room etc., I was hit by an unfamiliar wave of nausea. It was a chilling to the bone experience of complete exhaustion at the thought of having to take what feels like my millionth course here. It got me thinking (well, more so than the usual garbage relentlessly circulating in my mind), about my education here, the tens of thousands of dollars that have pooled collectively towards a plethora of lectures, tutorials, discussions, headaches, names and faces. All of which have managed to merge together to form a paradoxical monster in front of me, one that stares down unblinkingly and expects me to blurt out some completely prophetic culmination of the knowledge I have obtained here in a way that will make me sound ... REALLY EDUCATED.
This is a rant. I am officially ranting. Not a passive aggressive disapproval of the global education system, but a slap-in-the-face to every second of confusion that we all go through when we realize that while we may know a lot, we don’t actually KNOW anything. After having taken countless environmental science courses, why can I not accurately describe the exact cause of humid fog in south eastern Nepal? I assume I should know that sort of thing like the back of my hand, but I’d much rather talk about the long gun registry. Maybe I should have majored in it. Then I would have had to take some course in Canadian politics and I still would've felt completely devoid of true knowledge. Hell, I doubt I would have stayed awake in class at all. It’s difficult to teach politics and avoid droning on. Much appreciation for the Liberal Arts majors of the world, you are all Gandhi.
When did ‘organized education’ begin to make us feel so disorganized? The first years are grappling to find a way in this unfamiliar competitive atmosphere. Suddenly York is looking pretty good. The 2nd years are optimistic. “This is the year I’ll really get into my major.”
The 3rd years are desperately trying to boost or maintain a GPA. “Grad schools only focus on the last 10 credits.” Why are you repeating that to yourself over and over again under your breath?
Then there are the veterans, the 4th, 5th, 6th, and bless your soul if you've managed to survive this long: 7th years. We feel like we've grown up an immense amount, we've dealt with club executive drama, roommate issues, landlord issues, the registrar, the SCSU, our irritating best friends, the TTC, the family, those annoying people at the gym who kick you out if your towel isn't the size of a tennis net and so many others. Somewhere along the road, we began to feel more mature, maybe even more emotionally stable. People gained weight and confidence, lost their virginity and religious convictions. Some combination that pushed us to ‘grow up’, but it was never a course, or a class that seemed to do it. I've heard a lot of “ This course is complete bull****" but not a lot of “My birthday’s in July, but naw man naw, XYZC15 lecture 5, THAT’S when I really turned 21."
This is a rant. It has no ground to stand on and no real argument, but it comes from a place of genuine exasperation. This may very well be one of many rants about THE BIG BANG of education. The courses may be coming to an end, but the confusion might hang around for a lot longer. It seems like the more credits I earn, and the closer I get towards obtaining that honours undergraduate degree, I find myself at a loss. If only it were the age-old question about what one does after college. Is it time to immediately begin the job hunt? Go to rehab? Dump the tool you've been dating for way too long? Go to the ends of the earth to meet Noam Chomsky and BEG him to unveil the truth?
NO. The true question is, “What have I been doing all these years?” “What have I learnt," and:
“What do I know?”
It so happens, that I don’t know.