Lessons

California's University of Technology

If you pay the price

education is priceless

else, you pay for life

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It was war

“Do you have all the bullets? We can’t afford to lose again. We have to make this our best effort yet.”

Mark was pacing as he always did before the final face off.

And as always, Karl was there to assure him. “Don’t worry, I’ve got them all.”

“Good,” Mark replied, punching his right fist into his left palm, “those imbeciles won’t know what hit them!”

Mark had always been too competitive for his own good. But even his partner, Karl, knew this was a pivotal point in their lives. If they win, they’d become the senior school debating champions.

The unchanging

Pies and bars were his life. Percentages became everyday parlance. And his tallied spreadsheets set him a class apart. It was picture perfect. He was the ideal high school student: teaches doted on him, classmates frowned upon him, and parents spoilt him for love.

Who needed good friends when you could have great grades?

Pies and bars are his life. Percentages… his wife. With tallied statements stacked in the bank, the picture remains perfect. Raises and praises shower on him, as colleagues thank his genius and bosses appreciate his smartness.

Who needs good friends when you can have great toasts?

The next stage in life

When we say graduation, we think formal education. Although that belief is flawed, part of it rings true: graduation is education. To that, I’d add, graduation is evolution through education.

Let’s break that down.

When we graduate from high school or college, we move from one stage of our life to another, better one. And we expect this new age in our life to offer a richer, and a more complete lifestyle. Because graduation is a promise that the future is open and it’s upon us to forge it as we wish.

The same is true of the mind. Regardless of our physical age, our mind undergoes multiple trajectories in its pursuit of growth. While some adults behave childish and amateurish, some youngsters embrace a far more responsible stance. The reason is that their minds have graduated—they’ve learnt from their experiences in life, assumed strong opinions, and have incorporated their learnings in their everyday activities.

That’s the meaning of true graduation—internalising the lessons from every good and bad incident and using that knowledge for our own and others’ improvement.

However, it’s near impossible to walk towards graduation alone. Whether formal education or the mind, taking the next step requires help at every step. Teachers, well-wishers, friends, and kin all play vital roles in the graduation of a person’s mind. Random conversations, everyday incidents, and the occasional family gathering are breeding grounds for support and encouragement.

As for teachers, throughout their careers they guide students from nothingness to proper adults, sprinkling thought beads all the time. I’ve had a few teachers like that. I didn’t know it then, but years later now, I realise I’d be nowhere if it hadn’t been for them. How I think and approach a situation, and how I handle pleasantness and unpleasantness depend on my teachers and the way they handled their problems. If teachers are the path, parents are the carpet that paves the way for graduation of the mind.

As humans, we observe people who influence us. We derive ideas from them and they drive us to think further and aim beyond boundaries. That’s the progression we should strive for—becoming the better version of who we are.

And that’s worth more than a piece of rolled up paper.

Game age

English teachers at the Mount High School stared at each other. “Methinks,” a student had opened her essay. She wasn’t the only one.

Although they mixed up thou and thee, all of a sudden students were making conscious, albeit tardy, efforts to converse in the ancient tongue. As if a great wave of archaism had swept over the school.

Perplexed, sixty-year-old Professor Henry questioned Timothy.

“Oh, we’re practising for this game—Speak like Socrates. Whoever speaks the longest wins an iPhone.”

Socrates was Greek, Henry wondered. But Tim had left. It wasn’t about the language. ‘Twas all about the game.