BY: CAROLINE ROLF
Our attitudes toward education have been doomed since pre-school. When we finally mastered tying our shoelaces, we got a gold star. If we grasped finger-painting, we got to march across a stage in June, signifying the leap to grade one. Five-year-old me was proud.
This attitude has followed me through elementary school and continued into high school – trusting that the big picture was to meet random goals selected for me and determine my worth by my ability to memorize historical figures and mathematic formulas. Now I find myself seven weeks away from completing my university education, a little less trusting.
As I near the finish line, I can spot that checkered flag and what it really represents. One last graduation ceremony looms over me as though I’m attending a funeral for my learning. The Dean will give a congratulatory speech and classmates will remind each other of all unforgettable memories they made as this chapter of their lives has come to an end. No more exams to cram for, no more hours spent in a stuffy classroom – all the knowledge has been acquired.
How are we supposed to accept that in 17 years of our lives, we have obtained every bit of knowledge and experienced every emotion and facet of life required to make it through the next 60?
Students reach the end of their schooling, accept their diploma and that’s where the learning stops. They have a piece of paper to show that they’ve learned every lecture and applied their research in a couple of rushed essays. All the boxes have been checked and the required lessons they were taught to prepare them for the real world is suddenly their only education.
It has been decided from the endless acts in human history and experiences what should be reiterated to impressionable minds over 17 years of schooling. It doesn’t help when students are constantly being pressured to maintain high grade averages and an excess of extra-curricular activities if they have any hope of getting a job. This ensues panic and causes them to cut corners and fast track just to keep up.
A job post graduation may include a safety course or refresher class, but for the most part the mandatory learning is over. As school becomes a distant memory, the drive to learn something out of curiosity or self-improvement lowers. Our attitudes towards learning become unenthusiastic.
Schooling is often viewed as the entirety of education, rather than a starting point from which to build on. It should be the foundation for the rest of your life as a learner, ensuring that you spend as much time as possible grasping new concepts, expanding your thought process and pushing yourself to master a trait outside your comfort zone.
After the formal period of education is complete, time must be set aside for learning. Even if that can be only 30 minutes a day or even a week, the important thing is to keep reading, to keep questioning and to absorb new knowledge. There are endless platforms from which to learn. There are books in print and digital form, instructional videos and night courses, which provide endless opportunity to keep your mind sharp and learn about nearly any subject. If you think you’ve done enough, you’ll soon forget the lessons you once learned and continue outdated practices. Don’t let the learning stop because the schooling is done.