I set out thinking this post was going to be a breeze to write. And then I was wrong…like I most often am and I have no problem admitting that – I was wrong.
When I read this prompt yesterday, “how important you think education is” I was like “pppfffttt I so go this”. I thought this was going to be easy to write – but let’s face it, with great confidence sometimes comes great failure. I find myself struggling to articulate my feelings on this.
Let’s be clear: I think education is the most important thing our society has. But beyond that, it’s been hard to really phrase my opinion without going into full-on rant mode, so I’m sorry if it goes there. If you want to avoid the probable rant, just stop right here with this: Plain and simple, it’s the most important thing.
And I’m not saying that just because I’m an educator, or a former educator if you want to get technical. I have three bachelor degrees with my name on them (well two pieces of paper but three degrees). But even so, I sometimes downplay the magnitude of them. I’m not sure why, but sometimes, depending on who I’m talking to, I only give them the short version of my accomplishments. It probably takes a full 30 seconds to speak my full list of degrees and specializations, so I shrink it all down to “the short version is…”. Am I ashamed of having all that education behind me? No. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished. I struggled and worked my ass off for it. And I kind of love the shock value of someone asking for the long version and having to say it all for them. It might be what comes after the long version. “Oh wow…and you’re just a nanny?” As if loving someone else’s children and helping to raise them to be productive members of society and decent human beings and using all the knowledge and skills I gained from three degrees almost every day deserves to have the word JUST laden with such disappointed emphasis.
I’m not advocating that everyone needs to go to university, or even college or trade school for that matter. Institutionalized education is not the only form of education one can have. I know that the majority of my readers are from the USA, but in Canada, we separate out college and university. Like a hierarchy almost. If you want to be a doctor, you go to university. If you want to be a nurse, college. Dentist – university, hygienist – college. Teacher – university, early childhood educator/daycare worker – college. Going to one or the other doesn’t make you smarter or more valuable to society. Going to neither in pursuit of your dreams doesn’t mean you are lazy or uneducated.
Education comes in many different forms. Sure there is book learning and institutional learning which is needed for certain aspects of life. But then there is also education that we pick up from life. How to live and really thrive as humans. How to treat others with respect, and to be decent and productive members of society.
Think of all the problems in our world that could be fixed by just learning the facts about something. Educating yourself on the FACTS about an issue instead of reading into social hysteria and internet lies. I feel like our society is, in some ways, the least educated of generations even though we are the most connected and have the most information available to us. Maybe that’s why? Compared to the amount of information available to us, we know so little. Or we take the time to learn so little in order to fully understand? We grab onto an idea that has been placed before us in the news or in social media outlets and instead of taking that idea and researching it, we follow the masses.
I think that is probably where I’m going to stop because I feel like I’m spiralling into some sort of mish-mash of words so I hope you understood what I was trying to say.