When I was in grade 12 (high school), I tried very hard to learn all the ten subjects in the curriculum hoping to pass the so-called challenging national examination in Cambodia. Then, I even took extra classes on weekdays and weekends for almost all the 10 subjects including Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Social studies, Khmer literature and Biology.
Quite honestly, I did not know much why I had to do that and studied so many things. Wasn’t I trying to become a perfect student or person because I tried to get an A for the all the subjects?
Maybe I was because I just followed the trend. In my generation (2004), many students were taking extra classes doomed to the pre-matured Cambodian educational system then. The students just felt or knew that they could not depend on their normal class studies in order to pass the exam. So, they had to seek for solution by cramming extra classes like that.
The idea of becoming a perfect student was then so attractive that I believed in it and worked hard to become one.
Yet, since college, I have learnt that it is not possible to become perfect because nobody is perfect. Between the year 2005 and 2009, I was one of the most outstanding students at my college, the Institute of Foreign Languages (IFL). Even though I topped the score chart from time to time, I did not consider myself perfect because I knew I was not perfect at whatsoever I was doing at all; I just did what I could do.
Is perfection a reality or an illusion?
Throughout the years, I’ve tried my utmost to answer this question whether perfection is a reality or an illusion. I think I’ve got the answer, but I’m not so sure if you agree with me that perfection is just an illusion.
You may not know or believe, but there are actually a lot of people who are pursuing perfection like it ever existed; they are working their butt off to make whatever they are doing perfect. This is fine because people can choose to live whatever way they like as long as they feel happy about it.
But, the real question that you should ask yourself is ‘am I being happy with my life if I am also chasing the state of perfection in what I do?’ or ‘should I pursue perfection in the expense of many things I have such as happiness, wealth, and environment?’
Are we born or trained to search for perfection? (Nature Vs Nurture)
Now what do you think, nature or nurture? Based on my knowledge, experience and observation, I would rather say that ‘nurture’ has more influence than ‘nature’ in shaping human’s attitude towards perfection.
Do you still remember how parents tried so hard to make you become good in almost all aspects of your life? For me, I do remember it clearly because it is the reason that I got spanked countless times.
When I was young, I was not good at all with technical stuffs even though I was kind of talented in artistic fields such as learning, singing, sports, and many more. Frankly, I still don’t understand what approach my parents used to teach me about life, but they rarely if not never praised my good actions. Instead of admiring when I did well, they often slammed me whenever I did anything wrong such as breaking my toys, and etc.
No matter how many times I have shown my parents that I am NOT a technical person by breaking stuffs and not knowing to repair them, my parents still insisted that I become good or perfect at it like my older brother because they hit me each time I showed signs of ignorance in the area. (Honest to god, I hated Physics a lot when I was a high school student, and I still despise it).
What is our Educational System doing about this?
Now, let’s us discuss about our Educational System. Why do you think we are made to study so many subjects in elementary, high school or even university?
Sometime in the past, I argued (in a debate, of course) that such kind of educational system that puts pressure on students to study a lot of different subjects is not good because it’s not a wise use of resource to let students study so many subjects at most of which they are not good and don’t like. To my argument, my opponents rebutted by saying such act would offer the students opportunities to explore their interests in a wide range of choices and then make decisions about what their life should become.
Unfortunately, I lost the debate for not many people favored my argument. However, I am now happy to say that Educational System is being reformed around the world, let alone Cambodia, and the interesting part is that the reform somehow corresponds to my idea.
In Cambodia, the Ministry of Education Youth and Sport has been working for the last couple of years on a new educational system which allows students in grade 10, 11 and 12 to study only subjects that they would like to pursue further in undergraduate or graduate level. This helps those 10th, 11th and 12th graders release a lot of their burden to study something that they don’t and won’t benefit much in their life. For example, a person doesn’t have to learn about Physics and Chemistry much if their goal is to become a teacher of English language.
In short, nobody is perfect. I think even God is not perfect because if he/she were, he/she would have created this world with only happiness and greatness. A person may be good in a certain skill, but never be perfect in many. So, the solution for the young generation is that they should focus more on areas that they are good at so as to become even more productive. As for their weaknesses, they may care about them, but not too much for they aren’t able to eliminate everything and become perfect.