Education is the movement from darkness to light. ~Allan Bloom
Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school. ~Albert Einstein
Education’s purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one. ~Malcolm S. Forbes
Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself. ~John Dewey
Well I have almost survived my first week returning to college after a several year break. Just one more day to go. This return has made its way to #9 on my bucket list; so it is written, so it shall be done. Right??!?
I have a bit of a funny attitude about this return, and I’m sure a Psychologist could analyze it perfectly, but I think I know what’s going on in my head.
As I see it, there are 2 main types of knowledge, or “smarts” we obtain in life: street smarts and book smarts. Things you learn from life experience, and things you learn via reading and being structurally taught in an academic setting. Having both is quite vital to making it in this world. (Trust me, I knew a girl who had perfect grades, but zero common sense….it was astounding to me how intelligent and dumb she was all at once. How she survived outside of the library I will never understand.)
As I am an average of 5-9 years older than the majority of the student body here, it is difficult to not have some sense of arrogance about me, as I have experienced more. I have lived in that “real world” our parents began threatening us with in High School. Why do I need to sit next to anyone who has never filed their own taxes? Paid their own cell phone bill? Gone grocery shopping or chosen to watch a Presidential Speech instead of a reality show? Don’t I know more than them? Shouldn’t I be given an honorary piece of paper stating I paid a lot of money and took a lot of classes? And how come one even needs a piece of paper to prove to employers out there that we are capable and deserving of a career? Why can’t an interview and on-the-job training suffice?
This defiance and defensiveness is mostly based off of fear and self-disappointment. Fear of standing out and not fitting in. It is uncomfortable going to class and sitting alone, while groups of 2 or 3 come in together, knowing each other from the previous semester, having signed up for the class together. Do I look old? I shouldn’t….I am not at the age of wrinkles and I am wearing boots, leggings, a chunky sweater and a scarf JUST LIKE every other female here…maybe if I incorporate catch-phrases like “hashtag yolo” and start taking more selfie’s I’ll be set.
Why am I even worried about this? One advantage I should have with my age is maturity. Self confidence. I should be proud to be me and not care what other people think. The High School popularity contest is long gone. And I’m just here for that piece of paper anyway…right?
So why the self-disappointment? Because I shouldn’t be here right now. I should have been here 5-9 years ago. That piece of paper should be in a dusty frame on the wall in the house I own in Suburbia. Another advantage I should have with my age is acceptance. Understanding that life turned out the way it did and it isn’t too late. The ability to not be debilitated by regret. There is a lot to be said about swallowing one’s pride and taking a vulnerable leap.
I’m beginning to see that college, no matter when in your life you attend, is so much more than a piece of paper. Sure, each class you take specific to your major will allow you to be the best you can be in your specific career (how can you be what you want to be if you haven’t learned how to be it?). Yet beyond those “smarts” you get from those books, you need the “smarts” you learn from the elective courses, the diversity you see in the halls, the discipline you learn from simultaneously studying and working, the self-pride you gain when you get an A. That piece of paper isn’t just a gateway into employment, it is a symbol of the journey you took, all the work you put in, everything you experienced, and the person you became. That paper isn’t just a solitary journey. Sure, you did the work and it is solely yours, but during that journey you came across and were affected by many people. We feed off of each other. We learn from each other along with the books. That paper is so much more than ink on a former tree. And eventually, that expensive piece of paper allows you to cross #9 off of your bucket list, and proudly move on to #10…..or #5 because you skipped that one out of fear….and it will feel great.
I also must add, learning never stops. Be it from the books or from the streets, there is always something new to absorb. And I love it. It is part of the excitement of life. And I want to be an advocate of Education. There is substantial evidence showing a correlation between Education and crime/poverty rates. We may never achieve world peace, but if there is anything that can be done to make the world just a little better, even if only in one tiny place, it is worth it. And….as I am going for English Education, I would be the worst offender of hypocrisy if I didn’t complete my education. So, there’s that. 😉
Live. Love. Learn.