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I had a dream today. One of those, that leave you with a heavy feeling once you wake up. I do not remember that much from it, but somehow my mother was alive again, with people (including her) remembering, that she was dead before, and somehow I had to go back to school, and study similar stuff, I studied back in the day. What I do remember quite well is conversation I had with my grandma at the end of the dream, before I woke up.

I was saying to her, that I do not need these lessons, and what are they even supposed to teach me in the first place, and that even if did need them, I am not required to be perfect at them, and what's more - not obliged to fit the perfect world picture, that my previously dead mother has in her head. While this may sound harsh, this is what I truly believe in right now, and since I had a reminder to post something today, I thought why not talk about whole 2 topics touched in this dream.

Memorization ≠ education

I will go there and say, that education is overrated. Not in the sense of "drop out of school", though. My experience is obviously limited to my own school and to what I've read about schools in other countries, but generally current education system(s) focus on memorization of stuff. While training memory is important, I do not think it should be the focus of a learning process.

For a very long time it was thought that USSR and then post-USSR countries had "extremely good" education system. Maybe that was the case in USSR, but not in Russia. My education system was about memorization of everything, with very few attempts to teach "understanding" of how things work and why. A great example is memorization of poems for literature classes both in Russian and English: let's just say that me not remembering something perfectly resulted in my friend The Belt in teaching me how bad of a kid I am. Based on my knowledge a lot of the kids suffered the same, although the quantity and quality of the abuse varied. And for what goal, you may ask? Well... To spend 1 or 2 lessons on all students going up to the blackboard and repeating those goddamned poems. One. By. One.

Memory offload

This kind of memorization is pointless, if not to say cruel, since you can't really use those poems in real life. How many of us had a chance to recite a random poem they've learnt at school? That's a huge contrast to some other places, where memorization is crucial: like learning a language, which you can't do without memorization, or maybe geography or something like that. And even then, in modern day you may not need to memorize as much, as in the past. Taking geography as example: there are lots of videos where random Americans are asked geography questions and fail to answer them. These videos are supposed to be funny (and sometimes they can be), but... Do you really need to remember all city names from across the globe or even 1 country to be able to suddenly name all those without "A" in them or something like that?

Truth of the matter is, with modern technology it is often better to just offload the memory to.... Well, technology. This is something that I have been preaching as tech support, too: you do not need to remember every little detail, if you remember where to find it. Continuing example of geography: use internet maps or your GPS navigator or anything similar. It is certainly nice to know general location of countries, and maybe a couple of big cities for each of them, to more easily understand politics, for example, but you do not need to remember the whole globe map. In fact, offloading such things may, in the end, provide results of higher accuracy, since human memory degrades and can easily be outdated, while information on Internet or just documentation does get updated and is usually double-checked (although still prone to corruption).

No need to be perfect

Speaking of accuracy - that was the 2nd topic of my dream and my childhood. It was not demanded from me to get only fives (A grade) for everything, but I was scolded for all threes (C grade) and talked to The Belt for almost all of my twos (D grade). Putting aside the abuse factor, demanding perfectionism is plain stupid, at least because sometimes we have little to no control over external factors that contribute to out failures. And sometimes we are just not good with a certain subject. But for whatever reason education systems also demand us to be perfect most of the times. Like, you need to get all fives for all the subjects, or otherwise you will not graduate and you will generally be a failure.

Which also contradicts one of the basic things, that brought human to this day: cooperation, team work. You know the thing that a lot of different movies of the past (and some of the present) actually taught kids. Like "it's ok to not be good at something, find someone who can", "do what you good at to help those who can't do that", "diversity helps progress", and all that stuff. For the most parts these are completely forgotten in the design of the education systems. And don't you dare to fail. Ever. No one will like you if you do.

In fact, this also meshes quite well with the memorization issue: as mentioned human memory is not perfect, it degrades, and can even hallucinate (for example Mandela effect), and when we are asked to memorize things, we are expected to memorize them perfectly and to never forget or misremember, but that inevitably happens, and we feel bad as result.

Be humble and persevere

As for why I got this dream, it's probably because of this pull request for PHPMyAdmin. In fact it's like 4th PR, with 3 closed for various reasons, but essentially because I wanted everything to be perfect. It, obviously, was not, but last attempt finally passed most of the checks, with only test coverage remaining, which I need guidance on, since this is a somewhat niche case. I was frustrated with not getting things right, but I persisted, and this means that soon the tool will have better support for MariaDB's collations, which is success in the long run, and is the whole point of doing things.

And this is also the point of all my blabbing here: we need to learn to accept that we can't remember everything, and we can't do everything perfectly, sometimes we will still fail, but we just need to persevere. Even though I have been preaching this whenever I coached someone regarding tech support, it has been a challenge for me in things outside of tech support. Perhaps my experience of being unemployed and feeling unneeded for almost a year helped me to become even more humble. I mean, I spent quite a few hours telling myself "It's ok, there is still some progress, it's important that you are trying", and today's dream was the very first one (in my degraded memory), where I did not silently suffer the stress of school, but openly voiced my own discontent with it. This is not perfect, but it does not need to be, because it is still progress.