Education: To Learn or Be Taught?College Planning
I’m questioning my education
Is my education who I am now?
Well, many parents and their 2021 high school seniors are now in the final throes of making one of life’s grand decisions. A unique time, indeed, to be on that journey. Having a college senior and freshman myself, I understand a lot of what is involved. As I write this, I wonder about the relative value of higher education. Don’t get me wrong, this proud Gettysburg ’91 graduate values his days and impactful experience but I feel that the formalized degree tells only part of the story. Thirty years down the road, I am certainly not who I was then. Like many, I’ve had victories, both large and small, and mistakes, plenty of them, along the way.
While you're deciding, I’ve been finding
Looking around in the here and now
As today’s new crop of college bound seniors digs through courses of study, locations and finances, I have been watching my own sons navigate through this brave new world. They are growing before their parents’ eyes and have begun charting their own course in life, their own unique paths. As parents, we might be well advised to take a step back and allow these seeds to grow. We can tend to them and care for them with all that we have but ultimately, they need to live their own unique experiences. They need to learn to fall down, dust themselves off, learn the lesson (hopefully) and be better equipped for tomorrow as a result.
If I’ve been taught from the beginning
Would my fears now be winning?
We all have an innate human desire to want to share what we know with those we care about. We have an independent life experience and from it comes a belief system and set of opinions. What if all we did was learn by rote memorization and regurgitation? What if we were simply spoon fed a series of “facts” and “truths” that have been processed through the filter of the feeder? What if with all the important “life lessons” came a set of biases, an irrelevant influence that kept the seed from independent thinking, experiencing, applying and living up to the potential of his or her own best self? What if the seed were to become poisoned via unintended consequence? Could this stunt our collective growth? To my way of thinking, the choice is to think independently or be taught how to think.
I’m questioning my own equation
Is my own equation relevant somehow?
As they plan to embark on the next step toward adulthood, today’s graduate is stepping into a new world. A world that has been reset and redefined in countless ways. A world where what was right in the past for you, may not be today for me. They are entering a digitized world of redefined possibilities and a reshuffled deck. A world that enables all people the opportunity not only for self-reflection but more importantly the opportunity for self-actualization.
Could be, the truth it becomes you
I’m a seed, wondering why it grows...
I guess the message is, eyes wide open, folks. We all learn in a variety of ways and from a variety of sources. As we all know, knowledge is power and it is incumbent upon each of us as unique individuals to be discerning and prudent in our consumption and utilization of information. Higher education is big business and, like all ongoing concerns, it can provide uneven outcomes if it is not questioned, challenged and held accountable. Having personally been through the college admissions process a couple of times now I would encourage you to tap into all of your available resources to make the most informed decision with your student. I have personally advised many families through the years and have done so through the use of a variety of financial tools and human resources. Learning is a uniquely personal opportunity and right. Do not hesitate to be a curious and persistently questioning consumer of information along the way.
Written by: Rob Armstrong
Songwriter: Eddie Vedder
Education lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group
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