By Sandra Rustam
I don’t have anything novel to say about education.
A Forbes contributor wrote: “Education is really a way of looking at and interacting with the world. It involves having sufficient knowledge to ask good questions, having a willingness to consider different points of view, having the ability to analyze and make up one’s own mind and understand the basis for one’s opinion or decision. There are many ways to get an education and one of them is in school. Schools, however, turn out both educated and uneducated persons.”
What is Education? Is it schooling? A degree? Getting good grades and high scores on standardized tests? Being able to read and write? Is it evidenced by income? Social standing? Employment?
These are standard ways society, corporate, and government agencies measure education, but to what value? The value of education depends on one’s belief systems. To educate, I believe, means to nurture, challenge, and grow. In addition, to be an educator requires an openness to accept other’s differences, and understand with those differences comes discomfort, at times. Children become what they learn, at home, in school, in their communities.
Others have described Education well. I simply am expressing, in short, their sentiments. I am an educated adult woman with a Masters Degree, honors, awards, and a high GPA in graduate school. This was a bumpy, haphazard, scattered, long journey perturbed with many uncomfortable life experiences. Support was often not there. However, what I hold of highest value is gleaned though life experiences and embracing adversity. Formal schooling taught me how to read and write – it gave me a structured forum to learn about people. One of the most important lessons in life is simply showing up every day. School requires this sort of commitment. Most of the people in my life have degrees, professional jobs, and incomes of moderate to high standards. My dearest friend of all, Pam, does not have a degree or letters after her name. And, I have yet to meet someone who shows such grace in character, poignant verse, and a beautiful understanding about people. She is creative, adaptable, present, humble, and smart. Most of all, she is accepting of herself and others. Her sense of humor is warm. Our conversations are never dull. I relate with her more than any other person.
I have been blessed with a good mind and loving heart. There are strong opinions about education, the right to an education, with politics adding to the confusion. What we can do is honor and respect different ways of learning, styles of expression, and learn from each other. An adventurer interviewed on NPR: TED Radio Hour said “Get out of the house.” That’s the best advice, I think. Go explore. Do something different. Go outside what you know, what you understand. That is the best education of all. In doing so, we learn about ourselves. For me, the surprise is self-acceptance.
“You know, sometimes kids get bad grades in school because the class moves too slow for them. Einstein got D’s in school. Well guess what, I get F’s!!!”
– Bill Watterson
“Do not train a child to learn by force or harshness; but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.”