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The dilemma of a silent quick learner

merri profile image Vesa Piittinen ・4 min read

Finland's education system back in the 90's was great. You would constantly see Finland at the top side of the charts. During these times the system was still rather traditional in that you would have a teacher in the front of the class. But where it differed from most other systems was the focus on not leaving anyone behind. This meant pacing of the education was made so that even the slowest learners could keep up.

This system is great when you want to equalize the society as it matters far less what kind of background a student has. Even the poorest kids can do well, or kids whose parents have issues. Everybody has a chance to get a good basic education.

The downside of the system is that it isn't challenging enough for some, and I've been one of those people. This despite having parents who didn't have a lot of education, but who were lucky to have a job throughout 90's recession. So I'm a person who have benefitted from the equalization in that my family background didn't matter. But I also suffered because I could've had more challenge.

Why is this a problem?

As a person I'm one of those who is out of your way. I'm very good in staying out of the spotlight. This has been the way I've been throughout my life so far. In Finnish society there has also been a culture of keeping the bragging down. If someone made a too big number of themselves it wasn't seen as a positive. These two things have made it rather hard to let anyone know I can do more than meets the eye.

As a student this meant that I didn't need to put a lot of effort into things. Of course I didn't realise this as a child. I just thought this is the way the system works: you go to the school, do what is required and that it is. The whole why part of the whole education thing was also bad in that too often the given reason for school was "that you could get a good job". There was too little or no focus in that it could make you a better person, or that it could introduce one to interesting stuff. I guess these things have a better tradition in families that have a high education background.

So as an experience I always thought of school as a thing that I have to do because everyone has to do it. I lacked a lot of the beneficial viewpoint of it all. Yet I did do good numbers. Not excellent, because I didn't give it all my effort. Most of the time I did just enough not to get into either negative nor positive light.

It never really sank in to me that I have slightly exceptional level of skill when it comes to learning. Not the best of the world, but still more on the rare side.

Can this be fixed?

One thing that I've had to learn is to put more effort into things. I've also had to change my viewpoint and let others know how good I am. I'm still not great in doing this, but it is a whole lot better than staying totally silent. The road hasn't been easy and I've had my years of depression that I've had to work through.

Due to various challenges it took me six years after graduation to get myself into a basic job in a books warehouse. There I learned some self respect, and my time there allowed me to do reflection on how much sharper my mind was, and that I did indeed have a high work ethic. During my five years there I was likely the most productive employees, and also one of the more helpful ones.

This was the effort required for me to get into the "real" profession as a web developer. I guess someone could say it wasted a lot of time as it took about 10 years since graduation and military service (which you have to do in Finland if you happen to be a male).

The challenge as a web developer

I am now at a point where I know I have a bit of an exceptional skill. The harder part is what to do with it. Likely the most ideal thing I could do is to share it to others. However as a teacher I'm certainly not one of the greatest. Sure, I'm an "ok" writer and I could put my effort there, but in the other hand there are so many who already write well on all sorts of basics. And writing niche stuff that I often end up writing on about doesn't have a lot of audience. And generally I guess these focus much more on practical knowledge and experience, not skill as such.

In the practical day-to-day life as a web developer it is also hard to open up the understanding. The issue is that I often "miss" the fact people around me don't link ideas and thoughts as fast as I do. So the core issue is communication. I'd have to learn to slow down and explain things in more understandable chunks. Figure out everything that is not known by others. Work the way the Finnish education system works to get everybody up to the task.

I've had to change my habits and ways to think a whole lot in the past, and there is still a lot more to do and to focus on. And despite being a quick learner these are the hardest and slowest things to change. It is a forced repetition, and it is an awful lot of effort as you need to be aware and notice when is the point to behave unlike you've behaved before.

Then there is the final dilemma: is this really something I want to focus on? For now I don't have an answer.

Discussion

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_gameaddicted profile image
Fajar Ansori

Hi, I'm new here. introduce my name is Fajar and I am 21. Your story really inspired me about how our lack of communication impacts with others, and about the depression you've been through and trying to get through.

I also experienced depression, after graduating high school .. and it made the dream that I dreamed of becoming a web developer delayed. so I worked in a field that was not in my experience studying in school.

I'm happy to be in this forum, make me open with my way of thinking so far. I never write anything in forums and only listen to what people discuss on the forums. from now on I want to do the best in my life and the dreams I've dreamed of so far.

For now, I'm learning about the basics of a web developer like HTML, CSS, JAVASCRIPT, PHP and MySQL.

maybe that's all I want to say, I'm very proud of myself by replying to this post. this will be a bright spot for me in the future.

Terima kasih

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merri profile image
Vesa Piittinen Author

Great if this helped to begin on opening up, it is always a challenge if one has had a hardship in their life! For the moment I don't consider myself depressed, but the effects play a part the rest of one's life, and I can only keep on working on things to change in the ways I think or behave. But that is personal growth you can keep on doing the entirety of your life. Everybody has something to improve on, always.

One tip I wish to say is that people who have never been depressed are blind to the issues and might cause trouble to you and not notice it at all. The only way around is to speak about them. It is hard and I've certainly failed it many times. And it can be challenging to find the right person to speak to in a company.

Have fun time learning all that there is to learn!

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Fajar Ansori

Thank you for your advice! being open to every problem is a good way to try.
Thanks for replying!

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pentacular profile image
pentacular

Learning to communicate effectively is a critical skill.

Intelligence is useful, but it does not scale as well as consensus.

So, I would apply your intelligence to the problem of how to leverage other people to get more done, faster.

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merri profile image
Vesa Piittinen Author

That works if you value doing lots of things in a short period of time. I don't. I dislike haste culture. Thus that won't work as a motivation. For comparison the way I might find interesting would be to "nudge" people into a direction where they find they can be proud of what they have done.

I do agree with the communication though, which is why it is on the list of continuous improvement.

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pentacular profile image
pentacular

What is it that you do want to achieve?

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merri profile image
Vesa Piittinen Author

I'm already living with my existing achievements and I have no specific goal right now professionally so I'll answer with a generic "A good life for everyone".

My current means go by working on popular sites however indirect that might seem. It aligns well with my knowledge and skillset, and of course brings a level of income impossible with most of my other skills and passions.

But you never know when the next dream or inspiration hits hard.

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andrewbaisden profile image
Andrew Baisden

Finland is still pretty popular you guys created Nokia which led to smartphones. If that had never happened we might not have Android or iOS now. Also you have Supercell the mobile game development company which created the popular games Clash of Clans and Clash Royale. I saw a documentary on it Finland is quite good when it comes to tech 😁