Uneducated or Misinterpreted?
Looking at the track record of grades I should be barely squeaking by in life. If my intelligence is strictly based on my grades, I may be categorized as a poor quality person who does not have a bright future ahead of me. I failed 2 out of the 3 math classes I needed to take in high school, got well below a 1000 on my SAT scores, and had reading and speech tutoring throughout my education. I struggled to find a passion for what I was learning in school. It resulted in cheating much of my way through high school because of the constant lie that I was fed, “If I am ever going to be successful in life, I need to have good grades.” I did what it took in order to get the grades I needed to pass classes and graduate. I was and still am a poor reader, writer, speller, test taker, and public speaker. I struggled to pay attention in class and focus on assignments. Misguided, I fed into the idea that I was not going to be as successful due to the fact that I could not figure out the cos of 94x, or name all of the functions of the mitochondria of a cell. So this led me to the question, is the education system biased towards a certain type of personnel? I can put a new roof on your house, renovate a house from scratch, and build you a concrete countertop, yet I can’t tell you how to spell articulate without my good friend spell check. Do I say this to talk myself up and say how great I am? Surely not, I am lacking in many ways as one can probably see even in this blog post with below average writing skills and sentence structure. Nonetheless, my point is that just because one is categorized as a below average student or “dumb” doesn’t mean they really are. You may be familiar with the Albert Einstein quote, “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” I can’t help but think a man as smart as Albert Einstein had to be on to something when he said these words.
There are countless poorly educated people who have been more successful than one can imagine. Don’t believe me? Lets take a look at a few. Steve Jobs, Steve didn’t even finish college. He was a Cs and Bs student in high school and dropped out of college his first semester in. Yet he built one of the most successful companies in the world. His company, Apple, arguably controls most of the world with all of its products and technology. Apple has made billions of dollars and continues to every second of the day. What about Mark Walberg for all you action movie junkies out there like myself. He is said to have just finished his GED at the age of 42. Yet he is arguably one of the most iconic actors in his genre of movies. What about John Rockefeller, Henry Ford, and Richard Branson? The thing they all have in common is that each of them were high school drop outs! Others like Oprah Winfrey, Kanye West, and Mark Zuckerberg are all among a long list of college dropouts who turned out far more successful than you and I, by societies standards.
So what’s all this mean? Did these people simply just get lucky and “hit the jackpot,” or is there more to it than that? I believe there is much more to it. I would argue that our educational system is biased towards a certain teaching style and people group. I by no means encourage dropping out of high school. I believe that everyone can learn valuable life lessons and practical things from our education system and years spent in school. However, I must ask, is figuring out how to find tan 91xyz really preparing us for the future? Is learning that George shoots Lenny really giving us an edge in the “real world?”
Stephen Grunlan in his book Christian Perspectives on Sociology addresses the education system. He gives the reader an overview of how the American Education system began oriented toward basic Christian values and what it is today. According to Grunlan, “Education affects occupation, which affects income, which effects the level of poverty” (p. 193). By no means am I saying education is not important. Like I said, certainly everyone is able to benefit from an education, however, I pose the question, is our system all that its cracked up to be? Is there a way that education could better suit a multitude of people? Could our education system be geared towards a wider variety of students and interests? Because after all, if God thought these were the only skills and talents one needed in this world, then why would he have created each of us so differently? Ephesians 4:11–2 says that, he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” Similarly in 1 Corinthians, Paul writes,
“For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.”
What Paul is saying is that God made each of us different for a very specific reason. If we were all made alike, we would not be able to complete God’s plans for us here on Earth as effectively. See God knows that if all He had were teachers, then sure maybe the Christians would learn a lot, but how would we reach out to the unsaved? God knew we would need evangelists too! But if all we had was evangelists, who would be the ones working in the church discipling? God knows that we are unable to do everything, we are incomplete without one another, and even more so without Him. God knows that we each have a purpose, and He prepared us for that calling, but our calling is different from our neighbors. One calling is not better than another, but they are in fact different, which is why He needs to equip us differently.
I once thought I was stupid, and ill equipped because I wasn’t an A student. But then God taught me that I wasn’t only being graded in school, and that he made me an A student in other areas of life. Now this is not to say that I should not try in school. I know I still must work hard, because God calls us to do everything as unto Him and not unto man (Colossians 3:23). Additionally God has shown me that I am not defined by the grades that I get in school, and in a similar matter, I must not judge others by their success on paper. God has called us each to something different and rather than critique one another from not thinking like us, we should ask one another about their way of thinking so that we can better learn and understand how vast God’s creation and power truly is.
To this day, school is not something I enjoy. But now I can look at my education as something that is broadening my horizon, not something defining my capabilities. I have learned from the people around me more than my textbooks, but that is okay. God has given us brothers and sisters in Christ to spur each other on (Hebrews 10:24). In the academic world, some may think I am a weak link, but come over to the construction zone and maybe you’ll think differently. So please, don’t judge those who can’t climb a tree when they’re just a fish. You never know, if you jump in the ocean with them, you might not be able to keep up.
Grunlan, S (Ed.). Christian Perspectives on Sociology. Reprint edition, Eugene, OR:
Wipf & Stock Pub. 2001.