Taking Charge of One’s Own Education

With the imminent closing of McGill’s Education Library, there is perhaps a turning point in societal priorities in Canada. (Saving) money is more important than education, books, reading, and equipping teachers to teach. In terms of symbolism, it is a significant, telling moment amidst the many changes in an increasing centreless society, deconstructing its valuable instititutions, cutting people further adrift without any permanence, wisdom, or hope.

Even when I taught, I spent much of my time shoring up myself, broadening myself in the acquisition of information, knowledge, and wisdom of what is and the best of what has been. Curiosity and a desire to refill myself–the perpetual depleting personal reserves cause from teaching–was always sufficient motivation for whatever new learning. In the end, one has to take responsibility for filling or refilling oneself. No one else will necessarily do it for one, and one will be frightfully narrow (especially these daze) with the smug satisfaction of being just as smart as their school record.

Although courses are helpful, it is more the personal explorations that get the most fulfilling results in assuming charge of one’s continued, continuing education. Start with the simple–Who are the many great men and women of history and the arts that you know nothing of and are curious about? By this point in my life, as I belatedly listen to the masterworks of Beethoven, I am heartened to know that it is still possible for an individual to learn as much as they want about anyone and anything. My only fear is the day I run out of curiosity and no longer automatically Google for information on something or someone I want to know better. (And there is so much more than Wikipedia as any (auto)biography reveals).

Modes of receiving the information can be varied, too. I listen to audiobooks or watch videos about everyone and everything. Whatever information or knowledge one wants or needs is, fortunately, still mostly available out there. And yes, you may have to spend money to get some of these learning experiences. But that is where we came in on this topic, isn’t it? Will one limit oneself and one’s education in the name of money? How shallow, limited in perspective, and small in true value and personal growth. There are many larger costs, though, to making money the priority in one’s life and education. A complete abandonment of the development of individuals, inner life, and consciousness possibilities. A massive price to pay for selling (one’s and others’) educations short.

“I am large, I contain multitudes.”–Walt Whitman


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