Friday, October 17, 2008

The Importance of Education- REAL education

"No...I mean something about what a dreadful teacher she is, and how we're not going to learn any defense from her at all," said Hermione.

"Well, what can we do about that?" said Ron, yawning. "'S too late, isnt' it? She got the job, she's here to stay, Fudge'll make sure of that."

"Well," said Hermione tentatively. "You know, I was thinking today...[...]...that maybe the time's come when we should just- just do it ourselves.

"Do what ourselves?" said Harry suspiciously. [...]

"Well- learn Defense Against the Dark Arts ourselves," said Hermione.

"Come off it," groaned Ron. "You want us to do extra work? D'you realize Harry and I are behind on homework again and it's only the second week?

"But this is much more important than homework!" said Hermione.

Harry and Ron goggled at her.

"I didn't think there was anything in the universe more important than homework," said Ron.

"Don't be silly, of course there is!" said Hermione [...]. "It's about preparing ourselves, like Harry said in Umbridge's first lesson, for what's waiting out there. It's about making sure we really can defend ourselves."

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Pg 325
Yes, I'm using a Harry Potter book to make this point. The reason for this is that HP #5 is structured around the importance of being prepared- even if that means going against the system to do so.

As illustrated in the passage above, an evil and unprepared teacher has descended upon Hogwarts, and is making a right muddle of the school's most important subject. Without proper training, none of the students will be prepared to face the forces of evil descending on the world (which the government is currently refusing to believe).

So the students take matters into their own hands. They realize that it is not tests and papers and homework that is important- but rather what they are learning.

Why is this important? It's important because in this day and age, very few people truly care about what they're learning. They go to school because they *have* to. They get a four year college degree not because they really want to learn what's being taught, but because they want an " good education" and the degree that will get them a high paying job.

Well, first of all, if a degree is all that's important, why bother with a Liberal Arts college? Yes, in our system for some jobs that is the only way- which is slightly stupid.

What is the use of learning something if you don't really care?

And why don't you care? Shouldn't you?

First of all I should say that I'm not blaming young people for this attitude. Once the government made school mandatory, no one really had any choice about what they were going to learn. All they could do was learn what the government required. It didn't matter if the subjects or teachers were irrelevant- they had no choice but to get the best grades they possibly good. Because it was the grades that really mattered. Grades, apparently, are a test of how much you know.

But here's the thing that I think any person knows. Things stick in your mind if they are interesting to you. Sometimes you may not want to learn them, but they interest you, so they stick in your mind anyhow. And there are of course some interesting things that slip out anyhow. But if you want to remember something, for it's own sake and not because of a grade, it is much more likely that you will.

So what's the point of this?

The point is, everyone needs to come to a place in their life where they take a step back and look at their education. And it is especially important to do this before going off to college and spending thousands of dollars on a four-year-degree.

What I learned a year ago was "Don't go to college if you aren't going to take advantage of it." If you ever find yourself going through a class only for the grade, then stop and think. You're paying for this. Why is it important? Is the piece of paper that is called a degree really worth years and money to sit through classes that you forget?

Ultimately, I think the grade system, at any level, is somewhat stupid. I was forced through high school math by being told "You need it for College."

Well so what? What if I get to the point where I'm not in college anymore? Then what use were all the years I spent on math?

To sharpen my brain? To build discipline? Well couldn't I have learned something more useful than Algebra???

I'm saying all of this not to make you discontent with your school system, but to make you stop and think. Why am I here? What is the purpose?

And then to determine an answer.

If your school isn't teaching you what you think you should be learning- don't give up. There are plenty of books and videos and smart people around you who can help you learn what you think you need to know.

Take charge of your own education.


Miranda said...

I do agree with you (surprise surprise--but not really as I think that we have some similar feelings about education)...that education is more than a means to an end--but ultimately is a means to an end. What do we want from our school? I want to prepare myself with the right knowledge. That's why I'm finally going back to school for my BA and eventually MA--because I finally know to what end I am studying for.
Most of our generation don't really think about college at all until they are paying off the loans. I am so glad you are not in that camp.

max said...

Nice post. I think the problem we have with education is that we don't want to learn what we are supposed to learn.

Elenatintil said...

*supposed to learn*

Why are we supposed to learn it?

max said...

because if we don't, we don't graduate from High School. Like, I'm supposed to learn Algebra...

Elenatintil said...

But why do we have to learn it to graduate from High School? Wouldn't it make more sense to study logic or something?