This reading week, I am trying to complete all the coursework I have left for the semester, so I can focus on completing my degree with excellence, joy, and sanity. As this is quite an overwhelming task, I have been doing a lot of stressing, but also thinking about what life will be like after I no longer have scholastic deadlines and busywork to attend to. Unlike many grad students, the bulk of my work is NOT writing…. it is singing. Singing is what I do best.
It is a mystery to me why the education system is the way it is. For me, and for many students I have come into contact with, the moment I am assigned a writing assignment on a certain topic, I begin to detest the topic. For 17 years of elementary school, high school, and undergraduate studies, I diligently completed tasks that I did not particularly care about. I tried different tactics to make myself want to complete these assignments – play the outside edge of the assignment (ie write something that you think you can still get marks for, but is no longer really the assignment); become passionate about the subject through own reading and research; procrastinate and complain until the night before, and then write a really horrible assignment.
Then, I hit grad school. There is this really beautiful concept in grad school called a Seminar. In the seminars I took part in, there were almost no assignments – only a research project to do. And, better yet – there were no exams or tests! Finally, I could go to class and focus whole-heartedly on the material, instead of viewing the material through the filter of ‘What do I have to know for the exam?’. Suddenly, I was learning! And, best of all, I was becoming passionate about a subject that I had previously known nothing about through an official university sanctioned activity – going to class!
The structure of education, in my opinion, should change. While I don’t have an immediate solution, I do know that change is incredibly difficult in any institution. So, from a student who has profited from a somewhat atypical learning situation to the powers that be reading this blog: I challenge you to embrace change, rather than allowing fear to stop it.
Originally posted on McGill’s GradLife Blog.