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Is Education actually for Learning?

How can we actually enjoy the process of understanding things

As students, especially those on the medical track, do we attend lectures to learn or play the game of simply getting the highest grade possible in the easiest way? As pre-medical students, we’re driven to get that golden ticket – acceptance into medical school. Our college career is consumed with buffing up our resumes with volunteer work, shadowing, research, and the highest GPA possible. Yet, I wonder how many students are actually enjoying those 8am organic chemistry lectures and truly attempting to learn the material they’re being taught.

All too often you hear students scouring ratemyprofessor.com, trying to find the best professors that will award them with the easiest A possible. Peers will pass information back and forth like this professor has a great curve or that professor has easy tests. Doesn’t this defeat the whole point of learning? We’re so fixated on the grade that we forget the point of any class we take. That central point is to amass knowledge. Unfortunately, trying to play the system has become the sad truth of our society today and the educational system. We’re so engrained from a young age to get good grades in school, because that is the benchmark for success. But this social construct of good grades equating intelligence or learning is flawed.

It may sound unoriginal to reference an ancient philosopher like Marcus Aurelius, but he emphasized the importance of failure and obstacles in learning. These components are an integral part of the learning process that can develop our mind beyond route memorization or being able to answer a multiple choice test based on simple recognition. Challenges force our mind to derive novel methods to solve the problem in front of us and foster abstract thinking. This is one of the most desired qualities for a physician to possess. Medicine is a field that thrives on adaptability and ingenuity, but how will future physicians embody these traits when pre-med students work to avoid these learning challenges because it could cost them a bad grade?

As students and a society, we have forgotten the purpose of school. It is to learn knowledge and acquire the skills necessary to succeed in whatever field one may choose, even if it isn’t medicine. Unfortunately, this is very prevalent in students wanting to become physicians. Pre-meds are so worried about maintaining a perfect 4.0 GPA that they are forgetting to enjoy the process of learning. More students are stressed about the outcome of a class rather than the actually point of attending them. Our education has always been a complicated topic with no perfect solution to help every student in the system. Hopefully future generations are more encouraged to face those challenges in learning rather than avoid them.  

Advaitaa Ravipati graduated from the University of South Florida in 2016 with a B.S. in Biomedical Sciences and Public Health along with a minor in Biophysics. She went on to complete a Master’s of Biotechnology at Johns Hopkins University and currently works as a Research Specialist in the Dermatology Department at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. 

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