Academic Confidence

I saw a speaker last night gave a talk on Buddhism and schizophrenia. His slides are available online.

One of the things he said that made a lot of sense was that people tend to conform to their expectations. Students that were labeled bright and given no other intervention tended to be brighter academically compared with those who were labeled as being slow.

I was not labeled anything, but my grades were always pretty poor up until sixth grade. Someone told me that Alison was the top student. I told them that I thought I could beat her. I really don’t know where this confidence came from.

I never did beat Alison, but I did get mostly A’s. I was never perfect in school, but I was far above average.

This winning streak continued, for the most part. In high school, I realized that I wasn’t the brightest bulb, but I idiotically felt that if I continued to work really hard then I would get good grades. This was mostly true, but looking back, I don’t think it was worth the effort. I feel like much of my childhood and teen years were wasted in front of books learning stuff I mostly forgot so that I could have a lackluster career which was mostly characterized by fear of employers and crushing debt.

I wish I actually spent my time in high school watching porn and playing role playing games and messing with my computer. After high school, I’d have no choice but to find a job. I wouldn’t be in debt. There are many jobs one could get right out of high school that pay as well as I ever earned and don’t require a college degree. Government work comes to mind.

The point is that sometimes what seems good could actually be quite bad in the long run.

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