i could take this blog the way of looking at how important the government (or, future government, yikes) thinks education is, but frankly, i'm pretty politicked out right now, and have another week of frantic electioneering to get through/avoid as much as humanly possible, so i'm going another way with this.
i've been thinking a bit about the hierarchy of education in our lives. by this i mean the ways in which we value a person's education; how we decide someone is smart; how we measure ourselves. i'd like to acknowledge that i'm writing from a priviledged white perspective; obviously even within australia there are huge discrepancies between socioeconomic groups, and differences of heritage etc at play. i'm speaking from a pretty comfy point of view, and i know it.
i am lucky enough to have a Bachelor of Arts; i am lucky enough to be able to undertake a Masters while i continue to work. all through school, i did quite well; i was lucky enough to fit into the education system as it stood at the time. i know that for a lot of people, the education system is not really a happy thing; school is just a period in time to survive before you get out into the world and start your real life. of course, i've been thinking about school, and what it sets you up for, and what you do with your life afterwards because tonight is my 10 year high school reunion. 10 years after the fact, everyone will have gone their own way, some to university like me, some to apprenticeships, traineeships, parenthood, starting their own businesses, some have traveled and/or are still traveling. one notable laila is doing her PhD- not many people can brag that level of ability!
for a while there, the most important thing for me was to get to university; it was a driving factor and a focus upon which to motivate myself through end of school exams. i wouldn't do it any other way; i think i always knew that my final mark would be relevant for all of the 10 seconds it took me to get into uni with it, then it became irrelevant. your school mark is not you, or representative of your future life's success.
and i loved my BA, every minute of its decadence; learning just for the sake of learning; feeling your brain expand with each wonderful fact. it widened the world for me; it introduced me to feminism. it gave weight and justification to consuming countless coffees, debating endless points of politics and history, dressing the part with opshop chic, working at a pub on the weekends. outside of uni, life was a little on the rough side for me, but at uni, learning, i was enthralled. again, i think i always knew that my BA wouldn't open the world of extremely well paid work to me; there were not piles of letters offering dream jobs awaiting me out in the Real World. but it didn't matter; those years will always be golden. they helped make me who i am now.
of course, i am in awe of those who make a career of academia; that's another direction i might have taken if i had a longer attention span and an idea actually worthy of a thesis. still, i maintain that long after the facts and figures of a PhD have blurred, the other skills you learn from the simple situation of dedicated study are there with you for life- they are your tangible, take-away education.
and now, let me get to the point of this post; my formal education, the actual things i learned, are pretty long gone. what i got from that experience was a different sort of education quite apart from facts, and so what i really believe is important, as an education, are the things you do in your life that force you to grow and change. my life's education has been the people i've met and the places i've seen. it's been my highschool years and my BA, but it's also been moving to canada; it's been learning to snowboard; it's been a long-distance relationship that failed; it's been my quiet and peaceful life in the here and now, where i get to write, work, study, collect thrifted clothing and drink over-priced bourbon.
life is an education, and so it's unavoidable, to a degree (geddit?!). all those folk i'll meet again tonight, some for the first time in 10 years, have gained their 10 years of education in all manner of places, i don't doubt.
the important part, i think, is the part where we grow and change. it's how we grow, and how we change, that counts. the important part is that it happens. whether you fight it or not, you're still having that education shoved in your face.
so choose to learn.