By Vlad Popescu
Eastern-European like, Western like, United States like, I’ve seen it all when it comes to how the concept of education is approached, and I’ve managed to successfully adapt to everything I’ve experienced. However, even though styles may look different according to zones and regions, there is a surprising similarity that has always been there.
The concept of prestige, as we know it today, refers to widespread respect and a good impression upon people. Prestige is nowadays the etiquette of anything that does its job very well. Or at least that’s how we want to see it even when this definition doesn’t hold up anymore. Prestige originally comes from something related to an illusion, conjuring, or trickery, and it initially meant “a conjurer’s trick” in French.
The concept is often found in education too when characterizing institutions. Prestige is vital in one form or another for every educational institution, as part of identification. Everybody has to be “the best at something…”, “the best in a certain region…”. Building up a widespread respect is exactly what schools have been after for the past years. That gets you rankings, honors, clients. In other words, the faculty succeeds. Big time. But can the faculty succeed if the students fail?
There is a visible widespread refusal of culture and general knowledge among the new generation, which is not specific of a place. Everywhere I had the chance to study and be a part of the educational system, I found ignorance to knowledge, to prevalent world problems and other things where the focus of teenagers should be. And surprisingly, at the same time, institutions build their prestige as time passes. Their image grows in the majority’s eyes, and they keep carrying a big name or a big title. However, more and more students go through their programs but come out less and less ready to lead or have an impact in careers and fields that continue to shape the world.
I strongly believe that this is related to the institutions not dealing with this refusal and ignorance. When these things completely disappear from a student’s life, they make their way alone and have no one talk to them about the importance of culture, knowledge, and life values. And still, faculties keep earning awards, ranking spots in different areas, marketing themselves as “prestigious”.
When thinking of my greatest cultural development, I realize how I have done that single-handedly, unrelated to any school or educational institution I have been through. This proves me that the interest for general culture and knowledge is always developed by yourself. If the faculty can have a saying or an influence in that, that is wonderful. But realistically speaking, that rarely happens, proving that nowadays there are truly very few faculties who succeed at the same time as their students.
*The author of this essay is a student at Tallulah Falls School, GA, United States