Wednesday, March 24, 2010

College: The Societal Ritalin Of Our time

Do you want to know what happens to those who think outside of the box?

The truth? Universities crush them.

College, the supposed beacon of intellectual prowess, is no more than a sophisticated, fancy little game that we are all innocuously playing. It torts idealism, breaks the will of ingenuity, and molds its participants into pawns of society.

In saying this, I am in no way declaring a college education itself as ludicrous. Without my nearly four years of higher-level schooling, I would not have developed the mental skills needed in order to write this column, amongst other things. Nonetheless, when the victim realizes the oppressor is at fault, it is time to speak up. Intellectual diversity is at stake.

Our traditional system of higher-level education greatly parallels Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Actually, college is more like the societal Ritalin for ADHD.

Students come to college with a diverse array of learning styles, thought processing methods, and aspirations for life. Upon getting to college, they are forced into a very specific mold: standardized testing, standardized methods of intellectual communication and expression, and—worst of all—the standardized processing, and thus elimination, of dreams which are not deemed “societally applicable.”

So the students who idealize, question the sanity of societal systems, or simply like to learn in ways other than hunching over a desk for eight hours a day are deemed “societally hyperactive.” Four years of college will certainly fix this “illness,” hence the parallel to Ritalin, the medicine that has been proven to sometimes cause stunted growth, drowsiness, and appetite loss.

Analogously, college leads to stunted dreams, lots of tiredness, and a decreased appetite for doing anything the intellectual elite deem unacceptable.

I should note that a lot of students have already lost this sense pure and diverse open-mindedness to the twelve years of education they’ve had before they even came to college. Even so, college, which is often viewed as more fulfilling than our abysmal lower levels of education, continues this intellectual imperialism.

But really, do you think learning in dreary, emotionless classrooms for hours on end is conducive to expanding your horizons? Hell, I’ve been to funeral homes that are more enjoyable. This is unnatural.

Does anyone else feel twelve page research papers are not the most effective way in harnessing knowledge? I bet I have allies.

More broadly, do any students see the glaring flaws in any aspect of our culture, only to be told by the elite that their ideas just won’t work?

On countless occasions university mentors have suppressed my ideals. Their lethargic reactions have been detrimental in the process of putting these ideals into action.

In other words, questioning the very makeup of our society has not gotten a serious reaction from professors and staff. Radical thought is dead.

College is, ironically, the “go to jail” of intellectual Monopoly. Except, instead of getting free from jail in three rolls, it usually takes four years of rolling, and the tuition—debt that often prevents students from quitting—is a lot more than fifty dollars. And just like Monopoly, we are trapped into playing by the insipidly bland rules of the game, and—worse yet—must dutifully compete rather than cooperate.

Sure I learn stuff here, but I refuse to let my idealism be lost in an atmosphere of insensible submissiveness.

Today, I write to all of the many allegorical and societal ADHD sufferers: Consider overcoming the Ritalin, and the mindset it instills. There is a world—a beautiful and real world—that lurks beyond the ivory tower. Rediscover the beauty of your childlike idealism, live it, and never back down.

You don’t need to buy into the conformist system of intellectual Monopoly. Do not pass “Go”? Do not collect 200 college credits? You are not intellectually bankrupt. Don’t ever let any game tell you so.

- Teddy Grahams

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