Free and public education seems to not only be taken for granted lately, but is also under attack. In our social media/misinformation-filled world, people seem to have forgotten how important education is.
Occasionally I’ll get a friend request on Facebook. When I look at their profile, I see they list their education as “School of Hard Knocks.” I immediately delete their request because that assertion tells me they have in fact learned nothing, and are likely bitter about something that they will feel the need to share in their posts. They won’t be sharing it with me.
I also hear from people who think a college education is not important or has little to no value. They don’t respect it as I do—and let’s not forget that I have spent the majority of my life in academia, from starting as an undergrad at age 20 to retiring at 65 after 31 years of university teaching. I still think of the year in terms of fall, spring, and summer (and try to ignore how cold I get in the winter; no, it doesn’t work, and I still shiver and bump up the thermostat setting).
I will agree that college is not for everyone. I had many students over the years whose parents expected them to go to college, but there was no real plan beyond that. Did they last long? Usually not beyond the first semester or year. I have no idea what happened to them, but: should they have found additional training? Tech school, trade school, etc? Yes! There is a vast gulf between having a college degree (BA-BS-BFA/MA-MFA/PhD-DMA-EdD) and merely occupying space in the least of the drone jobs that could be replaced with robots and AI at the whim of the company. Learn welding, plumbing, electricity, something in the medical field, anything that contributes to society in a positive way and that doesn’t require an expensive 4 year degree.
Too often I also hear people say something like, “Well, no one likes their job.” That seems to be a problem. How did no one help them find what they might enjoy? In school I took some aptitude tests that suggested various careers. One was University Pastor, which at the time I thought was odd, but didn’t I wind up counseling students later on? Another suggested Actor, sub-field Directing, and that turned out to be absolutely correct. While I often asked students, “What are you passionate about?” and received only a shrug in reply, I think they needed some real guidance to be able to contemplate what they would like to do with their lives. While not all dreams are possible or achievable, many can be if you identify them and strive toward them.
And education can help with that, too, along with general knowledge and critical thinking.
PS: Sometimes these prompts suggest a brief comment from me, but when we’re talking about education, I get quite verbose!