Breeding mediocrity?

Some unwelcome realizations make way into our minds and fail to find a way out. And then suddenly, everywhere we see there is a validation for the realization that make it worse and bothersome. This realization, or what I hope is a misjudgement is one such thing that has been scraping away the defences of my mind for a while now.

Living within an educational institution opens one up to a number of possibilities with regard to understanding human behaviour, especially that of students. Now, I have never been one to advocate intense hours of study or unwavering academic dedication to everyone, but I’ve never shied away from those on a personal level. Academics perhaps don’t define a life, but academic performance definitely defines the kind of personality a student is – for it takes self discipline to be an academic achiever, and self discipline is a trait of the successful. More so, self discipline is a trait of a strong personality that can withstand storms in life. Regardless, I’ve believed that all aspects of college life starting from campus love stories to University gold medals go hand in hand. All experiences big and small cumulatively build the foundation and walls of a person that can withstand any storm in life.

Until I began noticing that a great percentage of students of this generation have neither the IQ nor the EQ to comprehend any of that. (Not generalizing anything; just quoting from specific experience.) If you notice carefully, it is pretty evident that the generation of today is not comfortable with excellence, especially in academics. Mediocrity appeals to them and makes them comfortable. It gives them entertainment and makes them the popular ‘back bencher’. Excellence on the other hand, is the sour grape that takes way too much effort – and Bollywood says that life is too short to be spending time within classrooms and fretting over math problems.

If a student finds himself to be weak in a language, he always chooses the one he is comfortable in instead of learning the former. Movies and visual media are preferable because books take up too much brain work. (No prejudice intended.)Writing a research paper is formidable work whereas making a Tiktok video (using someone else’s voice, script and creativity and imposing our face on it) is despicably a popular option. The class topper is often perceived to be a nerd whereas the unskilled and boisterous back bencher is the hero who is apparently making memories for life.

I do not disagree – the last bencher perhaps will have better memories for life. But according to a recent UNESCO report, 50% of Indian youth will be unemployable in the 21st century. I wonder if that will be the self-disciplined first bencher, or the boisterous-and-full-of-great-memories last bencher. If you are a last bencher, ask yourself today that if you walked into an interview of your dream job, would they hire you or would they prefer the first bencher that dresses well and speaks with command?

Questions like that are responded with examples of Sachin Tendulkar and Bill Gates who were college drop-outs. But the obvious point missed out here is the age that Sachin Tendular started training and the number of hours he trained to become the God of cricket.

Bill Gates built Microsoft though he was a college dropout, what can the back benchers who claim to be enjoying life build today? Mark Zuckerberg was not popular at college but apparently he could create something that no one else could. With all examples that can be given for academics not being important, there is always something else that an achiever was unbeatable at. On the contrary, the only thing that most youth of today are unbeatable at is shallow narcissism.

This is not a ‘negative vibe’ article venting out the incompetence of the current generation of students, because I am well aware of the incredible accomplishments that a lot of students do around the country. This is about the 50% that the above mentioned report deems ‘unemployable’. The illusion of academics being a labour that swallows the fun element of life is an elaborate fraud played on us by Bollywood and a number of ‘back bencher success stories’. What such stories fail to state is that in the absence of academic excellence, there is a necessity for a skill that makes you unbeatable in whatever you are interested in. What do you spend time doing when you bunk classes? If it’s TikTok videos or hanging out at fancy restaurants, you are not on your way to be the next Sachin Tendulkar or Bill Gates. Do not let the Bollywood fraud play you with fantasies like ‘life is too short to be solving math problems’. Not all notorious engineers succeeded to become ‘Phunsuk Wangdu’. Most of them have ended up unemployed, blaming the system for lack of employment opportunities.

The inclusive nature of the education system has sure been helpful in reducing pressure on students but has bred despicable amounts of mediocrity. I do not know what the solution to this is – perhaps there is none. But the capable ones need to keep pushing the boundaries so that excellence does not end up becoming a mirage. After all, “When mediocrity becomes the accepted norm, excellence dies a painful death” – Rashida Rowe.

(Featured image taken via Google)

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