Hopefully didn’t post already. Even if I didn’t, the message here is familiar.

Thematic consistency, I’d call it. Laziness is what it actually is.

[Life is a series of hoops of increasing importance. None of them matter.]

When Archie was in nursery, he was told by his parents and teachers that passing his First Test was the single most important thing in his life and would determine what course his future would take. Filled with the weight of responsibility, he girded his three year old loins and put in as much effort as he could. Duly, he passed (with a cuddly sheep!).

Immediately upon his entry into post-nursery he was summarily informed that the First Test was, in fact, a complete waste of time designed to make the young kids feel important and that the Second Test – which was coming up – was the true test of a child’s intellectual mettle and something for which he should definitely prepare himself. Choking back a small amount of bitterness at having been lied to so, Archie prepared himself for the Second Test.

Passing the second test he was graciously admitted to Zero Grade and, amidst the celebratory biscuits and squash, was informed that the previous two years had been off the academic record and that this year his efforts would finally be recognised. He was told this like it was a good thing, and everyone seemed shocked when he began pouting. Not wishing to seem ungrateful for all that had been done, Archie swallowed his dissatisfaction and got on with the business of preparing for his Third Test.

Archie couldn’t shake the feeling – even with his teachers and parents insistence – that he was simply doing the same thing again. He even cross-referenced his older books and found that they were, in fact, exactly the same books as his newer ones only with different covers. When he pointed this out he was worried at the complete lack of any concern, surprise or anger at all. Instead all he got was further insistence that he should persevere. Faced with no other options he did so, and continued to succeed.

When it was time to begin First Grade and to start studying for his Fourth Test he was informed that now it really got serious; everything leading up to this point had merely been to weed out the weak and prepare the strong for the trials to come. This, he was told, was the turning point. The point at which men would leave behind boys, girls would beat the boys and the media would say that the tests were getting easier. Whether he’d get to take a Fifth Test depended on this.

He passed, and was told exactly the same thing about the Fifth Test.

Which he also passed.

With the Fifth Test over and done with Archie was free to continue into either employment of a sort or choose to pursue higher education. Out of lack of options – with the job market dry for anyone lacking a degree or other form of qualification (he was told) – and at his parent and teacher’s goading he decided to go into higher education and, on account of his good results, managed to get into his third choice.

Now, Archie was informed, he would be given the freedom to work how he felt. No longer would he have to conform to the same rigid standards that had bound him during his younger years; now he could let his academic potential run free. In fact, he was given forty pages explaining just how free they could run while also helpfully outlining how far that freedom extended.

Equally helpfully, he was told his first year didn’t matter. After he had finished it.

His second year, by contrast, was far more important. Agreeably the work he was doing during it seemed much like the work he had done during the first year, but this didn’t matter; it was important this time. During his second year Archie also learnt the importance of reducing his part in any work he did – it was very important to show that your work was actually a meticulously crafted patchwork of other people’s ideas all properly referenced and shown to be nothing of your own.

It was with great relief that Archie left higher learning, degree well-earned and prospects much improved. It was with the deflating of that relief that Archie discovered his degree was now worthless. Or at least, that’s what the man offering him an unpaid internship said the instant the degree was in his hand.

On further questioning Archie discovered that the company magnanimously offering to employ him for nothing was so rich it could afford to affect a sort of modern day slavery on the whimsical notion that people are willing to work for free in order to bulk up a CV most people only glance at to say ‘no’.

Archie feels somewhere along the line something may have gone wrong.

END

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