When We Excel (and when not)

Education- When We ExcelWe grow up believing that school grades are one of the most important things on the planet to succeed.

Yet, when looking back now, the school grades certainly did not predict my success in life.

If I would have believed in them, I would be nowhere near where I am today, that is for sure.

I would probably not have gone abroad, I would not have had the courage to apply for some of the biggest European companies (and get accepted). Let alone to start a business. And blog about personal development.

How about you?

People Learn From People

Yesterday, I read a Facebook update by Derek Halpern from Social Triggers who touched upon exactly this point (Thanks for this great inspiration, Derek!). It is something that many of us can relate to, so I want to dig a bit deeper.

When we were teenagers all this pressure was put upon us by others (teachers, parents, class mates etc.) that we need to have good grades. We eventually accepted it and then increased the pressure ourselves.

No matter how hard I tried, my grades varied not only with the subjects, they also varied with the teacher. Why?

I discovered that there are primarily two elements for me:

  1. I am a people person. If I get on well with someone, I can contribute and strive.
  2. I need to like the topic. An interest needs to be there.

If neither of them apply, I don’t excel.

Compulsory vs. Elective Learning

At school, the agenda for the day is set. Often, there is very little choice.

The list of compulsory classes goes on and on. Not all of us like them. If you do, you are good to go. If the teacher likes you.

I did not have top grades when I finished high school.

So, those school grades did not help me to get into the majority of the universities I wanted to, that’s for sure. However, I was accepted at one of them.

That university was – funny enough – as far away from the high school as possible, in fact on the other side of the world in Australia.

In the first year, I excelled in nearly all my subjects (except Statistics). I started to move forward, not sideways.

Fortunately, this allowed me to get more self-confident with the direction I had chosen. The weight from high school and the predictions from the teachers were slowly fading away.

Coming back to the pattern I already saw in high school, I also realized why I was ‘performing’. I had chosen my degrees. Not someone else.

I had chosen what I wanted to do, and I actually happened to like the subjects (except Statistics 🙂 ).

Compulsory classes certainly also exist in a tertiary education system, so I followed the rules, but I had more freedom in my own education.

The more elective courses I could choose later on, the more I began to enjoy myself.

Now, I choose what I courses I attend when, this is great stuff!

Did you experience the same on your educational path?

If education goes deep with you, have a look at Ken Robinson’s latest TED speech.  He emphasizes what we need to do to adapt our schooling systems – no matter where in the world.

What do you think? How is your learning different today than when you were in school? Leave a comment below!

Photo credit: farmer64

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