The Straight A: Application (part 1)

I recently read the book, “The 6 Reasons You’ll Get the Job” by MacDougall and Sanders-Park. It outlined the 6 key aspects of a job applicant that employers are judging. I read a section about showing the employer not only what you can do, but what you can do for them. It’s about applying what you learned that got me thinking, and which lead to this post.

If you ask any student what is emphasized in school, it is knowledge— knowing what the content of a lesson or subject enough that you will be able to articulate what you had just learnt through a practical exam. Yet really, there is nothing practical in an exam. It is regurgitation, telling the professor in 4 hours what they’ve told you in 4 months. It measures memory, ability to retain information and take directions. It has its purposes.

One of the most transformative moments in a person’s life is at the beginning of their career when they realize that they have to apply their knowledge to situations in the real world, and seek ways to learn how to apply what they’ve learned. I don’t think this realization necessarily in the classroom. It happens long after the blue books had been closed, after the final marks had been distributed, when it has sinked and been questioned and had been mulled over. It starts with, I learned ABC knowldge in X class, and this is what I’m going to do in this situation and here’s why.

What then, did I learn in college? I asked a classmate of mine from Stanford about her engineering degree, and wondered how the classes she had taken towards the degree has helped her in her job. She said, “What majoring in something like engineering does is teach you the skills to approach an engineering-related problem. I don’t think I remember much of the content in my classes my sheer memorization, but what it has equipped me is how to think– how to see a problem like an engineer, how to solve a problem like an engineer would.”

In college, I took Shakespeare classes, critical thinking classes, philosophy, history, languages, global studies, and writing classes. Do I remember the chronological order of Shakespeare’s plays? No, but I know Shakespeare writing is a commentary on the issues in a specific period of time, and I can probably take a stab at thinking about the stories and themes and what periods in British history these were happening or considered controversial. Do I remember the exact time periods when particular schools of thoughts had developed? No, but I can probably piece a thought movement after another by drawing from what I know about the motives of their intellectual leaders and what schools had meant to make a statement or retaliate against the school that came before it. Do I believe that globalization is a juggernaut that cannot be stopped? Yes and no, and I can structure a logical, supported argument based on either opinion.

… continued, part 2


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