Oh man, the ATAR has thrown the concept of learning all out of whack. The way our school system structures subjects, exams and assessments has turned our learning experiences from what could be engaging and exciting lessons, into some very stressful, unpleasant and anxiety-inducing years.

Knowledge is power and learning all of that knowledge should be an empowering experience.

That’s not to say that the actual task of studying, writing notes and reading textbooks is the first thing people want to do when they jump out of bed in the morning. But acquiring all that knowledge, discovering new things, learning about the mysteries of the people and world around us, that’s pretty damn cool.

Now there’s not a whole lot about the structure of our high school education that you can change in the few years you’re kicking around the school yard. But to make sure your own learning experience is as good as it can possibly be, there’s just one thing ya gotta know; learn for yourself, not for your ATAR, not for anyone else. That means choosing subjects you’re interested in, not choosing subjects your parents/friends/teachers want you to do.

There’s a lot of theories and opinions floating around about what subjects you should choose in your final years of school and why you should choose them. Most of these theories revolve around shit talk such as;

‘Yeah but, Mr Stan teaches that subject and there’s no way I’m going to pass an exam with him teaching.’

‘I heard there’s three textbooks for that subject. Fuck that.’

‘The final exam for that class is only an hour long.’

‘Apparently that subject scales really well. So even if you go shit, you might get a good ATAR.’

All of these reasons for choosing or not choosing a certain subject are shit. Especially that last one. You’ll get a good mark, if you study well and you’ll be more willing to study if you choose subjects that you love.

Of course, if there are subjects that you need to study as a prerequisite for your dream uni degree, don’t cross them off your list. But if you’re studying subjects you hate, just for a uni degree, are you really gonna froth that degree in a year or twos time? Just a lil something to think about.

When you’re interested in a subject your whole attitude to studying can change. You’ll pay more attention in class, finish those assignments, smash out that essay and then have a better chance of nailing the final exam.

There’s already heaps of stuff we have to do that we don’t like doing. Don’t make school harder on yourself by studying subjects you don’t give a shit about. You wouldn’t want to miss out on learning about the stuff you love because your mate wants someone to sit next to in Biology.

The pressure our education system has developed around the ATAR has ripped the joy and fun out of learning. It has turned learning into a chore.

But learning and education is essential to the betterment of our lives on both personal and global levels. The more we learn, the more we know about how to create great lives for ourselves and those around us.

Learning should be eye-opening. It should be empowering. Learning can even be fun (crazy, I know). But when you’re cramming formulas, technical terms and whole essays into your head just for the sake of spewing it back out on paper a couple of days later, the joy of discovery and curiosity that comes with learning has been lost.

Learning is about the future, but it’s also about right now. So learn for yourself, what you care about right now. No for your best mate, not for your ‘rents and not for an arbitrary number that means nothing in the long run. Learn for you.


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