Recently I have been thinking a lot about numbers, percentages, things that students have to do to get into a college. For example, the SAT or the ACT; a score in which determines whether or not you’re smart enough or, put it this way, a score in which a college can decide if you’re intelligent enough to attend their school.
But what does the SAT or ACT have to do with ones intelligence? It is merely just a score on another exam, like the many exams high school students need to reach the goal of… what exactly? Trying to reach a high GPA and a high SAT or ACT score to attend another school to continue doing the same thing over and over again?
Doing the same thing over and over, studying for a test just to do well, and then studying more for another one, can cause an overworked brain – an overload of information that… are we really truly digesting? According to Lesley University, in Massachusetts, “Brain overload stems from a variety of factors, each of which arises from taking in new information,” (Lesley University). When we take in an abundant amount of information, instead of learning and developing our knowledge, we are putting a lot of strain on our minds.
One of the main issues and causes of this overload is the constant need to gain new information and be informed of this information through technology and the media. Coming from an individual who uses social media for forms of artistic expression, as well as for typing this blogpost right now, it is true that technology can really distract us from everything else in the world that matters.
According to Daniel J. Levitin, a neuroscientist, “whose research focuses on the intersection of technology, addiction, and productivity, [believes that] information excess springs from the human indecision to prioritize tasks and activities. This uncertainty wreaks havoc with our rapid perceptual categorization system, causes stress, and leads to decision overload. The human brain, in other words, is in a state of constant distraction,” (Lesley University).
Why might our brains be overloaded with work and from technology? I think the first place we can look and turn to for blame is the school-system. I strictly remember in elementary school, 5th grade, the teachers gave out IPad’s to all of the students so that they were able to use them for educational purposes. In High School, the school provided me with a computer to use during my time at the school, and now, in college, I was also provided with a computer to use. Most of my assignments for the past several years of being a student are mostly online. I have not done a single assignment that I had to turn in on paper for…well I don’t even remember when.
Now, I don’t want to place all of the blame on the education systems, but, as Levitin expressed earlier, technology is one of the reasons as to why our brains are on brain overload as well as why we as humans are constantly distracted.
Not only does this easy access of technology affect our ability to stay on task, but it also affects our ability to read-well. One major factor of having intelligence, an intelligence that is earned and not one that is defined by numbers or percentages in school systems, is by the pure ability to read and comprehend what we’re reading. As well as to enjoy what we are reading and indulge the information clearly.
When you are constantly using a computer, or other device, to fulfill tasks a certain class is wanting you to complete, your eyes can actually develop something called Computer Vision Syndrome. According to Healthline, Computer Vision Syndrome, “Is a type of eye strain that’s caused by prolonged use of digital screens. Among other symptoms, computer vision syndrome can cause; eye fatigue, dry eyes and headaches,” (Healthline). Now, when we use computers for prolonged periods of times, not only does it cause the possibility of students being distracted, but it also can cause actual physical affects that most students and young adults already experience from their overworked minds.
I strictly remember in high school taking the pre-test of the SAT exam online as well. And as a person who once used to like to read for fun, or even just liked to read as a previous English major, reading on the computer and trying to think while also straining your eyes from looking at a screen for too long, definitely deteriorates your ability to fully understand and comprehend what you’re trying to do.
The title of this article is, Does Your GPA or Test Scores = Intelligence? The answer is No. And this might not all sound relevant, but it is most definitely related. Some students are simply better at being students than others, but that does not mean that they are in fact more intelligent than most. It just means that they are better at retaining information, chewing it up and swallowing it and letting it simmer in their bodies until an exam comes up. But do they really actually learn anything? Are they truly knowledgeable?
Let’s find out.
Please remember this: Memorization is not learning. I’ve heard countless amounts of professors and past teachers say to me “just try and remember.” Not just for exams, but also presentations. Now, not all of them have said that to me but a good number of them. Memorization is not learning. Trying to memorize a great amount of information will not only stress you out, but when time comes for the exam, trust, you will forget everything.
According to Ben Orlin in his article, When Memorization Gets in the Way of Learning, he brings up something that I believe a lot of people are yet to fully understand. And that is, “Memorized knowledge isn’t half as useful as knowledge that’s actually understood,” (The Atlantic). Memorized knowledge is simply the act of trying to memorize something for the end-goal of passing an exam or trying to present in front of a class without forgetting all of your words. I know this feeling personally, and I have definitely forgotten the things I wanted to say during a presentation. But, when you truly know the information, in regard to a presentation, you should be able to talk about the information you’ve learned and you’re trying to present as if you’re speaking to your family members or a friend. It should come easy to you. It is only harder because memorization was used instead of comprehension.
Now here’s the tough question; are students in schools truly in school to learn or to memorize? If a student forgets everything that they had learned in a previous unit, and received an A on a past test, does that truly equate to them being the most intelligent with a 3.0 GPA? Will they truly be successful in the real world with these memorization tactics?
That’s a difficult question to answer. I’m not sure what the answer truly would be. It is true that every individual is different but as a college student who has been taking college classes for a few years now, transferred from one school to another, I’ve learned that your test scores and your GPA do not determine your ultimate success.
For example, I know of someone who’s extremely smart. Didn’t finish college, attended a year of it, and now works somewhere that might be frowned upon by others because it isn’t a job that a kid might say they’d want to be or do when they’re five years old. You know the usual, there’s the veterinarian (which my sister said she wanted to be when she was younger, and now it’s completely different), the doctor, a dancer, a singer (which is what I said before I realized I was a horrible singer, and many others. Now, there’s no shame in having goals and dreams but sometimes people’s dreams and goals do not align in the path that life takes them on. Other times, a job, regardless of what kind of job it is, does not define who you are or how intelligent you are as a person.
But in this society, it does. In this society, or at least in the environmental society of college that I am currently in right now, your GPA is the only thing that matters in terms of being successful and having a ‘good well-known job.’
It is not. But maybe that is the belief and only belief that some people will have and that is okay. But that does not mean that someone who has a high GPA is more intelligent than someone who has a low GPA or no GPA at all.
The person who I was talking about is probably one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever known. But intelligence comes in many different forms. Sure, if someone has a high GPA, they can believe that makes them intelligent, but with this person, his intelligence stems from his constant desire to want to learn. Many students in high schools and colleges and maybe even in elementary schools use memorization tactics to get by, rather than truly desiring to want to learn and develop their brains.
Not only does reading enhance your intelligence (as long as it’s not on a computer that causes computer vision syndrome), it also enhances your ability to write. You can become a better writer when you read more. I honestly do not believe some of these education systems can truly teach a student how to become a better writer if they do not enforce students to read and use their understanding of what they had read to write something. I think the only time I had felt that this was the case, was when I took a class with a teacher of mine in my high school, and a professor at the current college I attend. Besides that, I remember being told to write a paper about gender and something about panda’s having feelings in one of my courses from the first college I transferred out of. I do not recall reading any journals or studies or having the things I was ‘learning’ about be related to English (as it was an English course). There’s no reason to truly get so deep into that past experience, but it definitely reveals the complete disbelief of unlearning in the school-systems.
Learning should challenge a student’s mind but it should not challenge a student’s belief that they are not intelligent. And I definitely think that is something that the school systems are doing. Not just in regard to telling students that memorization is key, which I’ve heard before, but also by feeding them information that truly has no place in a school-system. This includes things that are unrelated to the course that is being taught such as learning about gender or panda’s feelings in an English class or pushing students to attend a ‘Unity Rally’ while also pushing a certain narrative about the amendments in the Constitution.
Are school systems the cause of students unlearning? Yes.
Before attending the college, I do now, I remember how badly I felt about my GPA in high school as well as how many other students as well as people in the school administration made me feel about my GPA as well as my grades. Many students strictly believed that if they did not have a high GPA and did not get into the college that they wanted, their life was over, and they would not have a job. The administration pushed me to think about colleges my sophomore year of high school. I’m pretty sure I was 15 or 16 at the time. College wasn’t something I was nearly thinking about, and neither was my GPA. The only thing I thought about when I was 15 and 16, and also thought about when I was in 2nd grade, was that I wanted to write.
In 2nd grade, when I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said I wanted to be a writer. And as I grew up, I wasn’t worried about having a high GPA, or a well-known high paying job, or to have perfect SAT scores. But I grew up with a lot of people who did say things like that. And I think that’s truly another form of brainwashing within the school systems; Making students believe that the numbers that they receive, are the only thing. that matters.
But that is not true.
Having a high paying job does not immediately suggest that you earned that high paying job and truly are knowledgeable. There are so many individuals in this world who never went to school or didn’t finish school (college) and learned about the world as well as taught themselves different things that later turned into success. According to Sarah Kristenson in her article, 51 Successful People Who Didn’t Go or Finish College, “Mark Zuckerberg started programming when he was a kid and developed Facebook while he was studying at Harvard,” (Developgoodhabits.com). Yes, Zuckerberg did attend college, but he took the time to learn for himself how to program which isn’t an easy hobby or thing to do. He used his learned intelligence to develop something that many people still use to this day. Nobody currently knows what his GPA was at Harvard University, and nobody truly asks. This is because your GPA is not the thing that matters in regard to your intelligence or knowledge. There’s more to one person’s knowledge than just a number.
Another person Kristenson mentions in her article is Tom Cruise. He took a different route than developing a major social media brand, but he, “Didn’t go to college [and] he dropped out of high school at 18,” (Developgoodhabits.com). Now he is a well-known actor. This proves that one does not need a college degree to be a successful person. One does not need a high GPA to be who they want to be in this world.
Another person Kristenson mentions, “Maya Angelou, a well-known author, poet, and civil rights activist did not go to college.” This is actually something I had not known previously before, and I remember learning and reading her poetry in high school.
Success can be earned in many different ways. You do not need to have perfect scores to be successful in life. And even then, if you do have a high GPA or high SAT scores, get into the college you want to, and become a billionaire – well, numbers whether academic or valuable, still does not bring one happiness.
Don’t believe me?
If you believed that money buys happiness, then you must believe that billionaires are always happy right? Wrong. There has been a major increase of billionaires committing suicide over the past couple of years. According to Julian Crowley, in his article, 10 Millionaire Businessmen Who Committed Suicide, “Howard Worthington, a self-proclaimed ‘Lord of the Manor’, and millionaire, shot himself with one of his prized shotguns just moments after shooting his lover Julie Rees,” (Businesspundit.com). He was a, “52-year-old English former businessman, who made his fortune in the steel industry,” (Businesspundit.com). Unfortunately, being a millionaire did not suffice for him in regard to his happiness. Another person Crowley mentions in his article is John Lawrenson. John Lawrenson, “Was a successful businessman who lived in a $1.8 million mansion. He was healthy, and seemingly happy. [But when his wife] was dying of cancer, [Lawrenson and his wife Caroline] poisoned themselves with a substance bought via [a] mail order from Mexico. [Later] a suicide note was found near their bodies [and confirmed that] Mr. Lawrenson could not bear the thought of living alone and decided to take matter[s] into his own hands,” (Businesspundit.com).
Money does not buy happiness. Maybe it may buy temporary happiness, but it does not immediately take away every internal feeling like, depression, anger, or sadness. Nor does it make anything else in your life insignificant. In regard to Howard Worthington, he was seemingly suffering from depression. Which not only resulted in him taking away his own life but taking his lovers life away with him. In regard to John Lawrenson, having money and being well-off, in an expensive home, was not enough for him when he found out his wife was dying of cancer.
Money does not buy happiness. So, when previous acquaintances of mine or other students I went to school with tried to tell me that their GPA matters to get into a good college to get a good high paying job meant that their life was going to be successful and that they were going to have a perfect life, I don’t believe them.
Life is not linear, not everything is going to be perfect. And even if it seems to be perfect for one person, there is more to a person than what they externally show you.
There is more to life than having a high GPA, high test scores, and a possibly high paying job. There is more to a person in regard to their intelligence and knowledge other than a number on an exam or a score on an SAT or ACT. Schools are not only the cause of unlearning, but they’re the cause of students developing into adults who view the world in such a wrong and incorrect way.