Tuesday, March 2, 2010

How Schooling Stole My Love of Learning...

...and How I am Taking It Back

For as long as I can remember, I have considered myself a person who loves to learn. Schooling, however, does not seem to have done me very well. Over the past few years, I have slowly started to realize that, despite its obviously contrary intentions, my formal education seems to have put a damper on my love of learning. Is this surprising? Not really. The question is: How did it happen?

One of the roots of the problem comes from institutionalized schooling. 13 years of public school taught me a few things about learning:

1. Self-directed learning is a mortal sin.

2. If you know more than you need to about what is being taught, then you might as well hop in the hand-basket headed directly to Hell.

3. The 11th commandment is “Thou shall not write an essay that is more than 5 paragraphs”

4. If you don’t do a Science Fair Project, you will fail at life (or at least out of college).

5. Completing homework is the only reason children have to exist.

What’s that I hear? You mean that wasn’t what I was intended to learn? Oops!

Another issue, one that arose during my college years, was the feeling of being nailed down to a specific path specified by my major. Though I changed my major several times in college, I was ultimately an English major, and as one who holds a degree in English, I feel as though the majority of my required course work did a disservice to what it means to be a lover of the written word. There were a few courses that I took, two of them in my senior year, that kindled my passion for learning in a way none of my other courses did. It took me a while to figure out what made them different from everything else I had done in college. The reason has recently come to the surface, they allowed for some self-directed delight oriented learning. I wasn’t being told what I had to write about but instead to dig in and get my hands dirty. Why couldn’t all of my courses be like that? My figuring is that, despite being advertised as a venue for exploration and free exchange of ideas, colleges and universities are becoming more and more a continuation of the factory-system model that is perpetuated by public schools.

Where does this leave me? Well, after several years off from formal education, I am finally feeling the deep desire to begin to acquire a true education. I am starting to get the inkling that a mixture of self-directed learning with a few enrichment courses thrown in here and there might be where I am headed. I am in the early stages of planning my itinerary. What topics do I want to learn about, and how deeply do I want investigate each of those pathways? I suppose this leaves me on a quest.

1 comment:

  1. This is an excellent post, Siné! I vowed after I was done my post secondary education that I would never go to school again. Finally in the last couple of years I am warming to the idea of working on a photography diploma. It didn't mean I didn't like to learn. I just wanted nothing to do with institutionalized learning. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why homeschooling my children appealed to me so much. It means freedom to think, to learn what we want and when, to move at a pace that is comfortable for each of our children. It's been good. Not easy, but good.