As a society, what are our goals and aspirations?
Based on my observations, it’s to get good grades, get a good job, and then die.
That might sound strange or morbid, so allow me to explain.
I work with children and teenagers to help them make the most of their potential. As such, I interact with many parents on a daily basis.
These are some of the most common things I hear from parents:
- “I want my child to get good grades so that he can get into a good school.”
- “I don’t expect my child to get straight As, but her grades should be good enough.”
- “I want my child to do well enough so that he can get a good job in the future.”
- “I hope my child will be able to get into a good profession like medicine or law.”
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to get good grades or a good job. (By the way, the title of this article was inspired by a poster I saw that read, “You weren’t born to just pay bills and die.”)
But it seems like in our society, getting good grades and getting a good job aren’t just goals or concerns. They’re obsessions.
They’re what we spend most of our waking hours striving toward tirelessly.
They’re what we seem to think the point of education is – and possibly the point of life, too.
Of course, most of us would declare that we absolutely do not believe that the purpose of life is to get good grades, get a good job, and then die.
But given how much we emphasize to our children the importance of succeeding academically and getting a well-paying job, it would be hard to claim otherwise.
After all, it’s the story that’s been told for generations . . .
Study hard, so that you’ll do well academically.
So that you can get into a good school.
So that you can get a good diploma or degree.
So that you can get a good job.
I question the truth of this story, because we live in an information age where new opportunities abound. So the path to having a rewarding career is no longer that simple or direct – but that’s not the focus of this article.
I want to question the belief underlying the “get good grades and a good job” story, not the accuracy of the story itself.
The fundamental belief is that getting a good job – traditionally defined as a job that’s stable and lucrative – is the key to success and happiness.
What could be more inspiring than the hope of attaining success and happiness, right?
But few people wake up every morning feeling thrilled at the prospect of spending the day in the pursuit of good grades or a good job.
It’s more common for people to ask themselves, “Isn’t there more to life than just trying to get good grades or a good job?”
One reason the “get good grades and a good job” story isn’t inspiring is that it’s all about you.
Why do I say that?
I mean, shouldn’t you be inspired by a story that’s all about yourself? [Read more…]