The Academic Idiot

The academic idiot: One of the many mistakes brought on by being forced to rush our educational choices.

From a young age, we are expected to know what career we want to follow, how we want to get there, and should pretty much have our whole lives planned out before we’ve even hit puberty.

At age 14 we choose our GCSE subjects, which will determine which A-levels we can take, and ultimately the university course or career we embark on.

For the select few, this is no problem, as they have identified their path at a very young age and want nothing more than to succeed as a dentist, lawyer, etcetera, and they fill out their subject forms with ease. For the rest of us, however, we fall somewhere in between casual indifference and desperate bewilderment at the idea of our whole life being set out in front of us while we’re still in our early teens.

In this country we are so obsessed with academia, that we are required to embark on our choice of career before we’ve even had a chance to decide on it yet. Most of us who have yet to make up our minds are forced to depend on chance and hope to God that a career path we might enjoy will arise out of the mist from our subject preferences.

In our daze of confusion about our upcoming life choices, it was be difficult for some of us to care about the GCSE Religious Studies exam that our school made us take a year early. Little do we know that we will be punished for eternity for the B we receive. Of course, others take to the whole assessment thing like a duck to water, and start gaining A*s left right and centre. These are the academics, and we look upon them with envy at their relentless ability to study the most tedious of subjects flawlessly.

I’m afraid to say that I am not once of these people, and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to perform at half their ability. I do, however, understand the basic concept of grammar and am able to distinguish between ‘there’, ‘their’ and ‘they’re’ with ease. Something that cannot be said for a disturbing number of people that are supposed to be the country’s elite, who have attended the top Universities in the country, and are moving on up to prestigious employment at some of the largest and most influential companies in the world.

It is frustrating, let alone depressing that various supposedly ‘smart’ people lack some of the most basic skills that learn in primary school. It makes you wonder how far up this ignorance goes. Is our country actually being run by idiots? Actually, don’t answer that.

It seems our country is so heavily influenced by the importance of academic grades, that genuinely bright people slip off the radar somewhat. Stephen Fry, our national treasure, was not one for academia at all in his youth, although that seems hard to believe now. Instead, he fled from college armed with a credit card of a family friend, and was in due course sent to jail for three months. Only afterwards did he realise he wanted to study at Cambridge, so returned to college to fulfil his dream and ultimately gain a scholarship place there. Call me a cynic, but I don’t see that happening these days, do you? The Stephen Frys of today are most likely serving a sentence in juvenile detention, or are destined to spend their final days working at Nando’s.

I don’t want anyone to think I’m being smart-ist here. Most intelligent people I’ve met are brilliant in their own way, as well as having a grasp on basic grammar. I went to school with a lot of them, and I would be happy for anyone of them to become Prime minister. It is the hidden idiots among them that worry me. The ones that lack pretty much any common sense, yet somehow still obtain good grades to get them further in life than others that perhaps would benefit more.

I’m sure many of you who read this have been as hooked to The Apprentice this year as I am, so I’d like to finish my point with an example from popular culture. Jordan. Quite clearly a clever chap. He was an Oxford bookworm who was on the winning team more than any other contestant on the show. This week’s episode, however, showed that this had proven nothing about his actual intellect, and it became quite clear that he was nothing but a blundering fool. It surfaced that he had cruised through the previous ten weeks on a mixture of luck and an average-to-bad sales technique,  and when it came down to it, he did not seem to have grasped the point of the show at all. Instead of a simple 50% equity for £250,000 deal, he’d managed to create a business plan of a business he didn’t even own, most of which didn’t make a lot of sense. Not to mention the equity he had worked out. This turned out to be an offer of 15%. I don’t think I was the only viewer who was confused by his shambles of a plan, but Jordan was very soon removed from the process because of it.

Jordan was a perfect example of the academic idiot I’m trying to explain. Someone who has gotten far with his ability to produce good grades, but quite clearly has the common sense of a pigeon. I just hope that in the real world, there is some kind of process to separate the Jordans from the genuinely capable people, so the country doesn’t fall into a pit of disarray due to their incompetence. I can only hope though, because by the looks of my Facebook news-feed, the academic idiots are inconspicuously sauntering among us free of charge.

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