Today, I sat in a class in which we broke the professor’s spirit.

As class started, we received a study guide for a midterm on Thursday. Ill-prepared and nervous, the class begged our professor to change the midterm. Make it a take-home, cut it, change the date, write a research paper on one of the questions… ANYTHING that would prevent us from taking this test. I don’t know which exact moment it was, but it happened. Her spirit broke. Utterly disappointed, she spoke about how she had failed us as a professor. The class had taken advantage of her. She taught in a format that inspired creativity and imagination, but she did not realize that her class had stopped learning the fundamental facts necessary to support her thriving discussions. And who’s fault was that?

It certainly wasn’t hers. We succumbed to the system that dominates modern education today. A system that preaches the bare minimum and pointless memorization. It dulls curiosity and real learning. As long as good grades show up on the transcript, who cares about anything else?

But education is so much more than that. The first quarter of our lives is dedicated to learning; we learn about the world, the past, our friends, ourselves. Yet, we take this for granted. Rarely are we so inspired about a topic we’ve just learned in class to spend our own time learning more about it. We live in an age where an unprecedented amount of information is available at our fingertips, but we do not use it.

Maybe it’s society’s fault. Maybe society should not have constructed a system like the one British philosopher Alan Watts describes. (http://www.neticons.net/music_life/) But really, it’s our fault. We do not take advantage of what is available to us. We have lost our curiosity, our natural childish inquisitive nature, our vigor for life. We are not yet professionals, yet we work for the weekends. “I can’t wait until TNC” or “I’m gonna get shitfaced this weekend” are all statements we’ve heard ourselves say. Alcohol, parties, drugs, etc. have become our escape.

Now this professor is one of the greatest teachers I have ever met. Creativity and imagination are the only ways that we can evolve into man’s next glorious era. Critical thinking and lively discussions are not only the way to stimulate our minds, but the only way we will be able to solve the increasingly complex problems that our generation will face. The monotony of our education has us stuck in neutral. Sure, we can get good grades, work the system and end up with some six figure salary at an investment bank or consulting firm. (And if that’s your boat, then great) But we are not creating any value. If we want to be leaders in the making, we must do more. We must create some substance within ourselves that will catapult us to the next level.

In a recent Esquire article, the following was quoted: “Michael Lewis is spot-on when he describes the ruinous effects on America’s economy that occurred when investment banks devolved from their original role — providing real businesses with access to capital — into giant casinos that added no value and bet on propositions in which they had no stake.” We are so focused on the bottom line, the finished product, the end result that we too have devolved from our original roles. We are no longer enthusiastic and curious students, but robots determined to memorize enough facts to ace that next exam only to forget them the very next day.

So I’m sorry Professor. I am sorry that we have degenerated to this. You certainly have not failed us, as you have opened our eyes to what we should expect of ourselves. We have failed you, and we will try to do better.