Monthly Archives: December 2013

Natural selection

Survival of the fittest is not just an evolutionary theory. It is also how we filter out talent in the world. Isn’t survival of the fittest the basis of all competition? Whether it is Olympics, International sports, dance competitions or even reality TV shows. The only thing all of these have in common is “survival of the fittest”. The fittest/best/most competent wins all of this. One could potentially argue that competition exists to filter out the less competent which is completely okay. I am not against the universal evolutionary theory. (As an aside though, human beings are not the fittest and yet we have survived. Even more so, we don’t actually promote survival of the fittest. For human beings, the fittest would be the most intelligent and yet dim witted and completely idiotic humans do exist. So, we are definitely not filtering well. Good intelligent men are not procreating with good intelligent women only, otherwise we would not have anyone who was even remotely stupid.) So like I was saying, survival of the fittest. 

All Ivy league schools or UCs are extremely difficult to get into. I am not saying there is anything wrong with that. They want to train the best minds and they give the best education to the best people. So hence, competition is fair. I have noticed however, that no school (whether good or bad) likes to accept students with a GPA lower than 3.0. You cannot have any other redeeming quality which would make you desirable to a school and I wonder why schools follow survival of the fittest. All these universities which can only accept say 1000 students per batch or something and they get say over 50000 applications, they choose to reject you on face value. On the mere value of how much you scored in your last exam. What I keep thinking is, all these people who do excellent in exams and are exceptionally talented make like 1% of the world population or less. These are the students/humans who get accepted into all colleges. They are the ones who sit on top of companies and tell everyone else how to their jobs. I just keep wondering how this is shaping our society. 

I saw this recently which got me thinking that if you are not good at something, the society teaches you not to pursue it. If you are bad at singing, your friends and family will tell you that you suck and then you will never even try to learn. If you get bad grades in Science, you will be forced to learn some other subject because everyone around you think that you should hate everything that you are bad at. I have come to believe that people have this feeling that you should hate what you are bad at. You filter out all the things you are bad at so that all you have left is the one or two things you are adept at. You spend your whole life doing things you ARE already GOOD at. How will you ever learn then?

We are paved by the society around us. We are appreciated with compliments when we do something well and criticism when we do something badly. Behavioral Psychology has a theory of Reinforcement and punishment to help develop socially acceptable behavior in kids. Criticism and compliments also act as punishment and reinforcers respectively. If a kid can’t draw well, others laugh at them and soon the kid gives up drawing. If a kid is overweight, other kids would laugh at you until you develop serious self esteem issues by puberty leading to bulimia and depression. If a kid does not understand math well, teachers scold them, embarrass them and punish them by calling them “stupid” or “idiot” or “dumb”. Now this student might have just been a little slow, might have loved math but won’t this student end up hating it? The subject itself wasn’t causing the student as much pain as the people who were teaching it. 

Schools, institutions, workplaces and the entire fucking society brings you up believing that you should abandon anything you are not good at. They would also tell you that you can do anything you want in life but they forget to add the postscript that says: “as long as you are good at it”. I don’t think students are brought up with free will to do whatever they want. No, I don’t think the educational systems do a good job in filtering out students. But then, it is a difficult job and you can’t blame them for believing that if you are good at something you ought to enjoy it as well. The problem is, that this world doesn’t give chances to slow learners, to people who want to pursue things they don’t have an aptitude for. Maybe we are saving these people for future disappointments and failure or maybe we are just bringing them up to chain their dreams and find reality. To curb someone’s imagination today, to save them future suffering is that a fair trade off? I wonder..

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