A professor of mine has sparked an interest in me that I simply must share. As someone who has used the internet since AOL’s dialup tone opened our minds to the worldwide web, I’m a little embarrassed that I have not stumbled upon and embraced the internet for something as important as educating myself. I have in the past used youtube videos to try to learn languages and guitar chords, but it was not until my 25th year of life that I found a desire to just simply use the internet to teach myself things that I could learn in college courses. I’ve made myself a difficult path in the past and it has definitely taken it’s toll on my education, however, it was my self-inflicted hardships that forged me into the motivated young woman I am now. High school was a breeze and I was easily accepted into CSUF, but I definitely was not prepared for the learning structure and mostly the new found freedom I had. Many people can balance this out, however I could not. Well I stray from my point here, as I did my first few years of college, but the point is I’m ready to learn now and I want to learn as much as I possibly can in the fields that interest me most.
One night while trying to fall asleep I stumbled across iTunes U on my iPad, I was so excited about all the information and lectures from prominent schools that were at my fingertips all for free! Sure I would have no paper, certificate, course credit, or diploma to prove this wealth of knowledge that I intended to inherit, but that simply did not matter. I thought I had solved my problem that night of insomnia and would read myself to sleep with the online lectures, but it did the exact opposite! I was up for hours listening to lectures and seminars from prestigious schools and scholars. Later, I had a conversation with the professor who had really brought this “DIY education” to my attention. We had a conversation about how I was so confused on what I wanted to do with my life and career path while being only 3 courses away from graduating. As a professor, you might be surprised by her feelings towards traditional education, but I could not agree more. Our education simply does not prepare us for life or careers. We are just filled with knowledge, much of which is useless and does not interest us. We are not taught real, tangible skills that we can utilize in the workforce. I severely regret not diving into internships at a younger age. If only college forced you to do so right away! To really get out there and take life for a test drive before you sign up to take on thousands of dollars of debt in hopes that you will come out the other end with the right career for you! Anyways, I’ve been reading more and more into these alternative forms of education and get more and more excited for them! Stumbling across the Khan Academy, I knew instantly I had filled up my Spring Break schedule. I intend on getting my 9 year old brother on this website and encouraging him to really grow his knowledge base, but most importantly teach him how to be self-motivated and want to teach himself! Perhaps I could go speak at his school about the importance of seeking knowledge outside the realm of your schoolwork, which is mediocre at best.
A crucial thing to remember is that as our country is cutting the funding and demeaning the importance of education, we are falling more and more behind other parts of the world. They have access to all this free education, just like us, and many are embracing it because they may not have any other opportunities to be educated where they live. If we want to keep up in a global society we must seek knowledge besides what our country has outlined for us because it is severely lacking and often impractical.
I have no use for learning to take standardized tests or impractical knowledge. We need more applicable learning to prepare us for the world! How can we revolutionize this and own it?
The problem of our society currently is that we focus on the end goal; what we earn, not what was actually learned along the way. Most people go to school simply for the diploma, the bragging rights, and the hope of a well paying job despite our pitiful job market. We might ace our classes, but do we retain any worthwhile, applicable knowledge. Especially with general education requirements, often we don’t take the classes we want to. If we were to pursue the areas that interest us most and that we are most passionate about, we would learn more and most likely utilize it. I’d argue that this would also create a more productive world if we were encouraged to pursue fields that we feel most strongly for. I for one, have pushed out all the useless knowledge that I’ve taken in the past: science and math especially! I often find myself cursing my required work because I do not have enough time to learn about what I want to learn about!
There is an issue with self-motivation as well. Many people have no desire to learn or expand their knowledge base. There must be some way to give credit to those that do. Personally, if you take the time to learn something online in your free time for no course credit or certificate, that seems more impressive than someone who forces themselves through a program for a diploma or high salary. How can we reward and give recognition to these people? If I were hiring, I’d want someone who not only completed school, but also read and took the time to learn things simply because they wanted to. So as our world becomes more and more globally intertwined and education around the world becomes more diverse and open, how do we keep up with our current education system and mindset?