I’ve been thinking about posting this TED talk that I watched recently and with the release of the ‘A’ level results last Friday, it has given me greater impetus to do so since results day often bring with it an upswell of emotions that gets me thinking about what truly brings us happiness? Yes, when you see me standing in the corner staring into space like I’m not doing any real work, I’m actually pontificating on philosophical stuff like that. Okay…sometimes I’m really just spacing out and taking a mental vacation. ANYWAYS, it got me thinking if good ‘A’ level results truly brings us happiness in life? Like what we’ve seen on the faces of students who did well? Or conversely, do less than ideal ‘A’ level results condemn us to a life of gloom and doom?
What I found fascinating about Professor Robert Waldinger’s study, which he talked about in this TED talk, is that when they followed two groups of men – one group from Harvard and the other group from the Boston’s poorest neighbourhood over the past 75 years, at the end of the day they found that happiness was not found in fame or wealth or a successful career or the fact that you’re a Harvard graduate versus a non-graduate. Which MAY come as a surprise to many of us, given that I’ve heard students describe NUS/SMU/NTU like they are some sort of promised land full of green green grass and the sound of music. Research has shown that it’s time for us to look beyond grades and what school we go to and recognize that life is rarely a linear progression i.e. the equation that Good ‘A’ level results = go to the NUS/SMU/NTU promised land = great career with great pay = secure future and happy family = life’s sweet sweet goal is seldom a sure thing and conversely bad ‘A’ level results = I’m screwed forever is also rarely the case. Because life is so much more complicated, convulated, unpredictable and non-linear than that and I’m glad it’s that way. Otherwise life would be so boring, wouldn’t it?
Have a read at this other blog post ‘the cost of our college obsession’ (maybe just the top half of the post since it’s a really long one) on why we have to look beyond grades. Something for us to think about this March holidays. Have a good term break. 🙂