Higher education makes you high

One of the challenges I have set myself in 2018 is to get off the couch quicker than last year. The springs – in both couch and legs – have slowly deteriorated and it takes an almost superhuman effort for me to go from sitting to standing in under five minutes. I want to bring it down to a minute. That will give me an extra four minutes of staring into the fridge wondering what I got up for.

This is not the only area in which I hope to up my game in the new year. I also plan on going to university so that I may add another string to my bow. What does that even mean? I can’t imagine anything more useless than a bow with a plethora of strings. Wouldn’t it make more sense to want to add another arrow to your quiver? That way, even if you didn’t have a bow you could still stab people with your arrows. But I imagine most of us go to university so we don’t have to make a living from stabbing. Diversification is key, though, and a little tidy knife-work on weekends could go a long way towards supplementing any student’s meagre income.

I’m not yet sure which university I shall attend. Or what degree I will do. It doesn’t really matter. The point is that, thanks to Jacob Zuma, it’s all free. And there’s nothing I like more than not having to work or pay for something.

Julius Malema says that if you can’t afford to study, you should just arrive at your nearest university and pull up a chair. Commandeer a locker, claim a girl, borrow a pencil and there you go.

Thing is, university only really appeals to me in the sense that all institutions of higher learning are hotbeds of sex, drugs and all-night parties. The business of studying and writing exams doesn’t particularly interest me. Besides, given the couch issue I’ll probably be late for most of my lectures, if I make them at all.

I have done my time in the hallowed halls of academia … okay, that’s not strictly true. There was nothing hallowed about the journalism department at Natal Technikon in the ’80s. I did find my first love there, though, and, not long after, the Normandy Hotel, which was a stone’s throw from Oldham House where the journalism students were kept isolated from the rest of the campus.

Right, then. This year there were 370 000 applications for 39 000 places at six universities. This was before Zuma did his Oprah impression at the recent ANC conference. “You get a university education, you get a university education … everyone gets a university education!”

The EFF leadership will be waiting to welcome you to the institution of your choice. When registration day turns into the battle of Stalingrad, Dr Ndlozi and his footsoldiers will take the blows and teargas on your behalf, giving you a chance to make it to the nearest lecture hall where you can plant your metaphysical flag of freedom, take a member of faculty hostage and demand he teaches you everything he knows.

It doesn’t particularly matter what degree you find yourself doing. The important thing is that after three years, or, if you’re easily distracted, eight or nine, you can put the letters BA after your name. The counter-revolutionary elites will say this stands for Bugger All. Ignore them. By the time you graduate it will mean Beast Alliance. You will be the awesome stormtroopers – the Orcs and Uruk-hais of the new new South Africa – providing by sheer force of numbers the opportunity for the elite Masters and the PhDs to storm the citadels of power.

Somewhere among the ravening hordes rampaging across campuses on their desperate quest for knowledge, maybe lurking on the fringes if not in the shadows, will be Nicholas Brinkmann and his ilk. I have not selected Nicholas for any reason other than that he appeared on Twitter at this very moment. There are others like him. To find them I would need to scour the internet and, as I have repeatedly pointed out to no avail, I don’t get paid enough to do research.

Nicholas is 18 years old. He has just finished up at St John’s College and is preparing for a bright future in Australia. Just kidding. I don’t know what his plans are. Given that he achieved nine distinctions, they probably don’t involve magic mushrooms and transsexual crack whores.

I am simply using Nicholas as an example in much the same way that he will in all likelihood go on to use others for whatever purposes he sees fit. As a very intelligent lad, this is his prerogative. It is ordained. It is the way of the world.

The well educated become wealthy, the poorly educated become poor. Then there is you and me – a little bit educated, a little bit poor, always money for beer. A bit of a generalisation, to be sure. Toss in an unexpected work ethic and a couple of genetic surprises and all stereotypes are off.

Nicholas is not a throwback. He is a natural. Or maybe a nurtural, given the massive amount of support his parents must’ve given him. As a school kid I supported the hands-off approach when it came to parenting. They persisted with a hands-on approach, which usually came in a parabolic arc down to my quivering buttocks.

Nicholas totally cracked top percentages in seven of his nine distinctions and it doesn’t matter that he is more fluent in Latin than isiZulu. With the government’s new Woodstock approach to education – free for all and anything goes but don’t take the brown acid – it’s quite possible that we’ll all be speaking isiLatin by the end of the century.

Nicholas is from Emmarentia in Johannesburg. I will never go there. Not to Emmerentia or to Johannesburg. Let’s give him a chance to speak. “I spent my whole high school career just trying to learn everything well. In a sense you could say that my whole high school career has led up to my performance in matric.”

Now and then one reluctantly finds oneself in the company of a professional melanchologist from the past and even though we might plumb the murky depths of our spluttering adolescence, we use words like “disaster” and “torment” rather than “career” when referring to our passage through high school.

Nicholas said that during his matric year he would wake up at 6am because he wasn’t much of a morning person. This makes no sense. If you’re not a morning person you have no business waking up before midday.

“For my whole life my parents have made it clear that they support me and my education and they would do anything in their ability to help me. In the morning‚ often my mom and dad would make me breakfast. I feel like they sacrificed a lot in order to help me perform at school.”

Breakfast! No wonder he got nine distinctions. I was given a light thrashing and a pebble to suck on before being made to crawl to school on my hands and knees.

Nicholas also played second team basketball and first team hockey, which must be reassuring for his parents because if he ever gets brain damage he can still earn a living. He said sport helped him perform better academically. “If you don’t exercise you sometimes struggle to concentrate well.” I don’t know about that. Ritalin is basketball for the lazily gifted. Or something.

Nicholas is taking a gap year and then wants to study mathematics and science in America. Better hurry, Nick, before Donald Trump bans science altogether.

  • I deliberately haven’t mentioned the half a million kids who dropped out between grades 10 and 12. Sooner or later they’ll turn up at the robots. We’re going to ignore them then so we might as well ignore them now.

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One thought on “Higher education makes you high

  1. Howzit Ben and many thanks for the free entertainment….as you so succinctly put it, ‘a little bit educated and a little bit poor, always money for beer’ but no spare cash for our favourite columnist.

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