The intelligence of academia


I went into school yesterday to finish up on some paperwork and have one last conversation, a real one, with a teacher.

She asked me why I thought I was good at both maths and english (in the last two years I’ve been the best in the grade for one or more semesters.) I told her it was because I knew how to play and be good at the Game.

Don’t get me wrong. I am Lucky (with a capital) to have the opportunity to attend a good school, to learn and choose and do what I want. I am Lucky to like learning, that the chemicals within my brain when I was two atoms perchanced upon a sequence that allowed me to excel in the bodies of knowledge that my state has deemed Worthy. 

I am Lucky that my parents encouraged me, that I am ambitious that it is written into my psych that I learn, that I know how to play the Game. 

The Game is easy in words. You do what they say, when they yell jump, you do twenty sit-ups, 33 burpees and hop for 3 minutes. And then you jump. 

I told her about the need for motivation, that people who have memorised the handbook who do not have the drive are left on the road bleeding and spasming. That is the truth.

Intelligence in year seven and intelligence in year twelve are very different things. 

I thought the interview would be about academic achievement. It wasn’t. It was me telling her, what academic achievement was to me and how the definition that had been fed to us, was wrong. 

Wrong because the smartest, most intelligent student in the year, could still fail. 

I left, after twenty minutes and she stood to bid me goodbye. 

I looked at her and she was not my teacher, I was not her student. She was a woman who had guided people through the system and I was a woman who had seen and understood. Tomorrow, what I think will be different. The day after that, different still. 

But she will stay the same in my minds eye, a teacher in a broken, but mend-able of academics. 

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