Traditional education seems to be a touchy topic these days. I know a lot of people are “going alternative” now when it comes to education. I don’t believe this is a bad thing. Homeschooling, unschooling, learning by doing – these are all valuable educational tools.
I didn’t come from an impoverished background. We weren’t poor & we weren’t rich. Please be aware that I am writing this from this point of view – because that is the point of view that informed my education and the opportunities that were available to me.
When I was in high school I remember thinking how useless most of the classes were. I still think they were largely useless. I finished high school in 2002 and I don’t really know what I learned there that I have used since. But there was one subject I loved in year 11 & 12 – Legal Studies. It turns out it wasn’t the subject matter I cared about, but the fact that the class wasn’t just about reguritating a textbook. We had to apply analysis to everything! Everyone did really badly on the first major piece of assessment because no one knew how to analyse, only regurgitate information. But, as my teacher said, everyone tends to start out with a bad mark, then they learn to analyse and get better grades. Skills learned.
Fast forward to university. Getting a degree in Anthropology is one the the best things I have ever done:
- I have written so many essays in my life that contemplating an eBook is not intimidating. I know how to outline, research and fill my page with the right words.
- I can take notes in my sleep. Highly useful at conferences. Highly useful to make comments when following conferences on twitter.
- I can write (and have written) pretty much any form of professional correspondence possible.
- I have no fear of tackling my goals because I have complete confidence that I can learn whatever I need to know to get something done. I know how to assess research leads for value and track down the information I need.
Would I be where I am today if I hadn’t had a traditional education? I don’t think so. See, where I believe most people fail is not realising the value in skills. I came across this article the other day on twitter, which goes into some detail about how you need a range of skills to succeed in business.
I understand that the funding model of education in America sort of forces you to get a job straight away to pay back the student loans, and I wonder if this is why I read most of the anti-traditional education sentiment from American websites. But we’re lucky in Australia. The overall cost of going to uni is fairly low here, and there is no pressure to get a job ASAP to pay back a loan, since it’s administered through the tax system.
So are people taking advantage of the fact we have relatively cheap and easy to access education? Are people looking at the traditionally defined outcomes of a degree, or how it will develop their skills? What about how those skills will enrich other aspects of their life?
Tell me about your education. Was it traditional, off-the-wall, a mix, or in-between?