Chan VS Higher Education and the World

Ok to start off, I was never a nerd or studious or anything of that sort. I used to be good at studies naturally, I could grasp the basic ideas pretty easily and used my relatively skills to relate what I learnt in class to objects and situations and patterns, etc. and that was my secret of doing well… Pay full attention in class, try to relate things to each other and connect them together to make everything just flow and during exam everything will just fall into place.

Ok enough of that now, so I finished school with pretty good grades 6A1B1C in O levels and entered MUIC where I enhanced my skills blending it with all my newly acquired laziness with the help of search engines and later Wikipedia plus pretty powerpoints and some dumb-but-funny acting. I prepared very elaborated and informative presentations and researches on pretty new and open topics which could be used for many different classes (thanks to Laird Allen for introducing me to the concept of el nino and la nina; and thanks to Wayne Phillips for showing me the BBC video on Global Dimming) during my first 4 trimester I presented exclusively on el nino and la nina whenever possible, sometimes more than once a trimester. And then later I picked up Global Dimming which hardly anyone knew about (so I can mix up stuff and make it look very innovative and dramatic).

Thus with El Nino + La Nina and Global Dimming, I took care of many 30% presentations which could be completed in less than 30 minutes (changing fonts, colors, language [serious/casual], adding new information, graph, pictures)

Alright now will all those things done in my BSc. I have officially become lazy, very lazy, and shamelessly/proudly lazy. But at that time it did help me, since I was spending less time preparing about stuff to present in class, searching papers and journals and articles and statistics, etc. giving me more time to learn new things, enter classes I didn’t register for, I still say I’m not a nerd, I just wanted to learn new things rather than going through the same things again and again.

This all brings me to July when I applied for some Scholarship to go to Liverpool and study my PhD. there, everything was pretty much planned out, I applied, passed the selected, got chosen for the last 5 people and wasn’t selected since I couldn’t come back to MU and teach in Thai (I cannot write in Thai) so I lost that chance, which forced me to continue my pursuit of higher education. However deep inside me lies a part than did not believe in higher education a part that knew that by attending class and listening to all those lectures would only make me more knowledgeable, it wouldn’t really enable me to do anything great, I would be potentially well equipped, but real life tends to overlook you, which MU pretty much did to me too and so did my employers. Just because I have a degree in Environmental Science, they sent me to the engineering department, which didn’t work out for me, I shifted to IT and finally to Marketing, which makes my resume look like a Jack-of-all-Trade. That may also be the secondary reason my scholarship was rejected, I have a BSc. planning to get a  PhD. in Environment Science but I spend the last 2 years in the hospitality industry (that is what everyone sees) what they don’t however, is the fact that I have a degree in 1 field and yet I worked in 3 other fields and did pretty well in 2/3, I’m an adapter, a survivor, I can pick up bits and pieces of information from the internet where a lot of information is available and apply it into my real life and survive. But the world doesn’t need that kind of person, because why, because I do not have a piece of paper that will tell them that I can do what I tell them I can and sometimes I can do things I tell them I can’t (because I’m not sure if I can, but when I do it, I can)

Then I ask my friends who are doing MBA about the courses, majority of them tell me, it’s easy not much to study, but it’s a lot of research and presenting and a lot of work is needed. And then I ask them, so did you learn anything new, they will initially say yes, and then I ask them how, did the professor teach you? Then they say kind of, not really, they give us assignments and while doing the assignments we learn these things. You know where I’m getting to, I hope. Yes, you don’t actually learn anything exclusively during your MBA and maybe MA, MSc. and also PhD. you are basically assigned task and you have to complete them, you will get tips here and there, but most of the time you’re just completing tasks (which I don’t have to enroll into the university to do if you have a way of getting the list of task, the course outline and have access to the books, journals and other reading materials. You can pretty much be as good as any MBA grad or maybe even better since you will not be working for an A but you’ll be working because you wish to.

So for me an MBA is pretty much a degree that is being sold to you by the universities, and most of the time, I believe the professors are using you, to work for them, gather information for their reason. So MBA is like you pay to work and then I give you a degree which will allow you to get paid to work for someone else. This is not education! If this was the sort of education classified as higher learning, then all the big companies should have the rights to certify their employees too, to provide with a degree. I should have a degree in marketing by now for working with the team to reduce marketing budgets and implement online marketing, I should also have a degree in Information Systems from the work I did in my short term employment as an IT officer by implementing Google applications to shift from our normal 50mb emails to 5-7gb emails and also try to kick start Google documents and Google calendars which fails since not everyone knows how to use them. I may also deserve a degree in HSE for my building auditing, fire safety, first aid training, etc. But I don’t have anything other than my Environmental Science degree with which I can’t get a proper job in any other field.

Ok since I’ve started talking about now and I bounced back to July, let’s come to the now NOW, where I’m applying for some Huygens scholarship in Holland, and the deadline is in December and I am faced by a lot of stressful things like:

  1. Would I get my referees on time?
  2. Will my application be good enough?
  3. Will I face a similar problem like my last application where I have a science degree, applying for a science scholarship but worked in Marketing?
  4. But but but, most important of all, do I really want to continue studying in science field, if yes, and then what do I want to do? If no, then what do I study?

I’ve learnt a lot acquired knowledge in many different fields, but now I don’t know where to go now on, I have no idea what the Future Chan would end up like. Isn’t education supposed to help me out, show me a path to take, not make me stuck? Honestly I get bored pretty quick and so I have to keep keeping myself busy with something new, I can’t even do the same thing for a long span of time. Because then I would start asking myself what am I doing, where is it getting me, what will the Future Chan be like, will he be happy or will he say to himself, “Crap I screwed up again”

I want to do something worthwhile, something that makes a difference, I want to learn and then I want to teach and I believe than these degrees and certificates and license should limit or promote you, everyone should have the rights to do what they feel is good for the world, they should get a chance, a probation, trial period to prove yourself, if you succeed then you should be allowed to carry on regardless of the fact that you have a PhD. or just a bummer, if you can do it, you should be allow to do it. Sometimes an uneducated person can teach you much more than Einstein. Einstein is a great guy who contributed a lot to the world but was those contributions necessary; I mean we survived without the theory of relativity for thousands of years. Einstein pretty much gave us the ability to wipe out each other faster than we could in the past.

Look at all the research and development nowadays; they are all being focused on consumer products, computers, phones, vehicles, construction. The government is promoting tourism, local products. Every country is trying to increase their production and raise their GDP; they want to have more trading power, to be on top of other nations. But look at the world, people are dieing, from diseases, lack of food, people are being killed and people are killing people. Humanity is ruined; a small excuse is enough to create disputes which can then be fueled into generations of hatred and misunderstanding.

Rather than researching phones that can send text messages to all your friends in a jiffy, we should focus on how to get people to talk to each other. Rather than producing tones of candies, we should focus on how to supply food to the people who have nothing to eat. Rather than sending out space shuttles to the Moon and other Planets, we should focus on going to indigenous areas and find out if the local population need anything that you can provide them. Rather than building skyscrapers for our ever growing population to live in, we should try to control our population, go out to the parts of the world where people still mass produce babies and show them that their problems cannot be solved by having more children to help them with their work, it can only be solved if they got along with other people in the neighboring areas and figure out how to survive sustainably and also the better off part of the population should learn to be satisfied with what they have. We must learn to be happy with what we have.

I don’t really know how to do it. I really want to know how to do it. Is there a degree or a diploma I can obtain to be able to achieve such things? NO NO NO , there isn’t, because no one knows how to achieve such goals, it’s not important as they do no help on a long run, the rich cannot get richer, they cannot get cheap labor, they cannot exploit the environment, people wouldn’t run after things that they see on TV. People would be satisfied, everyone will have enough, but that is impossible, yes impossible not just improbable, it is impossible, because Greed burnt a hole in our heart, we will never have enough. On a long run, communism failed, people will desire easy way out again, they will do it in the name of the better future and that better future will never come. We are all in this closed loop, we are all part of this massive clockwork, the pendulum swings everlastingly and we dance to this endless beat that never stops.

We need to come up with a system so well designed where the designers, the implementers and the subjects are all part of the system and are treated equally. Can we achieve that? Looking at the paths we’ve taken in recent years, it would be very very tough. We have a very thick line separating the rich and elite from the poor and unfortunate and yes, the rich (the more powerful) would do anything to keep the line there. There can be millions of philanthropists giving up their life’s earning but they can never erase that line which clearly divides humanity.

I believe than we should all work together to stop feeding the rich and start feeding the poor.

Wow I started talking about education and ended up trying to change the world, how idealistic of me, sigh. I guess I’ll have to edit and redo this blog entry which is bloody long and covers 2 distinct topics that I somehow managed to connect.



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