This semester, I decided to do a module that was ostensibly more challenging (read: a higher level Humanities module) in school. It has been a gruelling experience: the philosophy readings were complex and near-incomprehensible, the lessons were jam-packed with new insights or concepts, and the assignments demanded tremendous thought and effort.
Unsurprisingly (okay disappointingly), it has been a story of Bs thus far. Essays were not properly conceived, and arguments were not substantiated proficiently. Evidently, the fact that I am writing this piece shows that I remain concerned about the grades I obtain (maybe needlessly so), and frustrated that I have not been able to perform up to expectations.
Why this perpetual obsession with my grades? It shouldn’t be everything.
Because in retrospect, the knowledge gleaned from the interactions within the classroom has been remarkable. In more than one instance my assumptions about the world and Singapore had been challenged, and my weaknesses in scholastic writing have been cruelly exposed. We had wonderful discussions: from the ethics of biometrics and photography to the figure of the veiled woman. It was the one class I truly looked forward to, while I trudged through other tedious lectures of quantitative reasoning, analytics, or economics.
Perhaps the difficulty of a module – and by extension, the probability of obtaining a good grade – should not dictate one’s basket of academic choices. Interests, strengths, and passion are key considerations, but the desire to truly learn, to be educated, cannot be compromised. If we enter a seminar room thinking that we know anything and everything about the subject, then what is the point? From this perspective, grades and comments are but ways to allow one to be more circumspect, to comprehend that the journey of education is a lifelong one (and to know that Jin Yao is a million steps away from being an academic writer, haha).
Hopelessly idealistic, but this should be the right way to spend one’s college years.