In this competitive world, how good you are at something is measured based on the ability to complete against others. The key word is ‘against’, which implies the whole point of being successful is beating others. Unfortunately this is the reality of life. Modern schools, specially the higher education variety is geared towards beating each other out than to improve the knowledge and skills of the trade.
I am not saying that I am against this ideology. On fact, I am all for it. However, once in a while I imagine a word which we appreciate knowledge and skills of people rather than the ability to beat each other in a hostile environment.
Specially during the exam season, I feel that some of my friends react bad to the pressure to do well on exams. I have also noticed some markers are just focused on failing students (some call it “hard markers”) rather than logically assign marks for student responses. This is one reason why the standardization of written and oral exam can come under fire. Having said that, I should empathize that most of the academic community understand the philosophy of life. But those few who don’t can make life harder for some students. When TAs (teacher’s assistance) behave like extremist, I wounder what type professor they would make once they graduate? Or worst yet, what type of team player would they be at a workplace?
In my opinion, you should measure your OWN success not by comparing to others, but by comparing to what you know today to what you didn’t know awhile ago. The process of learning should be measured as a success rather than just beating your fellow friends. Happiness can only be achieve through this type of personal success.
Because I was raised in a family that highly value ethics and have deep roots in philosophy and science, I feel that I probably feel these issues more often than others. If the socioeconomic model money, money and money were to continue, I don’t think how I feel (and few others like me) about academics really matters. It is ironic how some countries point their fingers against other in the name of democracy while in their own backyard it is the rich and the powerful who rule their nation.