When we began this class, I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. While it was as organized, thoughtful, and as well-prepared as I thought it would be, there are a few aspects of the course that I didn’t expect. I didn’t expect our class discussion to challenge so many views that I considered natural or accepted as “inherent truth.” I now try to see every situation from many facets that exist, and try to strip down my automatic society-constructed interpretation of the world around me. This has broadened my understanding on a large scale.
There were a few really frustrating moments during the semester. One aspect of the course that frustrated me was the body paragraph. Although I started it a week and a half early, spent a good deal of time (worked on it every day), and dedicated attention to detail and thought, I *still* had a difficult time preparing what Dr. Seaman asked for. I then tried to write the paragraph before it, and write the one after, even worked on transitions; and then discussed my process with her in an effort to iron out my “issue.” I just couldn’t grasp how to convey my argument before I had undergone the process of organizing a “paper’s worth of thoughts and organization”. I have a special appreciation now for the actual process of writing a paper, and how I develop my argument as I write and revise.
At the end of the day, I am still frustrated. One aspect of education is that sometimes you do your best, utilize all the tools at your disposal, and ask for help from those that are willing to give it–and still not achieve what someone may ask you to accomplish. I used to think the measure of a students’ worth was their grade point average, and the way they perform on exams. I do not believe this any more. We do not all learn the same things, in the same way, as everyone else. We are all different. We all pay attention to different details in class, struggles with different concepts, view the class discussion differently, and hold a different attitude or life experience than someone else. I can see this in relation to our discussion of things that are thought of as inherent, or “natural”. Our experience in college is different from each person around us. We encounter vastly different issues, have different strengths, weaknesses, and passions. Some people are satisfied with passing grades, and then some of us are not satisfied with B’s. Instead of trying to fit into a mold created by someone else, we should make use of and utilize all the tools that are available to us. Take what you deem valuable, leave what you do not. Conforming to what people expect of you, if it’s not in line with your ideals, will leave you an unhappy and unfulfilled person.
The point I am trying to make is that College is a system too. It has been socially and culturally constructed, and we are being taught what those in authority deem important. I am not challenging this structure necessarily, but I am considering or opening up a new path to education. I am not saying we do not need college, or that we are robots, or anything dramatic like that. I am certainly not saying not to do your best and just make C’s to barely get by. I am saying that it’s important to be aware that our society places value upon GPA, and test scores, and may not value learning methods that are considered “unconventional”. If we want to think outside of the canon, and outside of race, gender, sexuality, authority, and everything else we have discussed this semester, then it stands to reason that we should also analyze the system that we call an American education. How we are taught, what we are taught, what we want to achieve, how we see the world in relation to our education, how much we pay for it, how much our government is paying for it, how are grades are calculated, and what occupational opportunities are opened to us as a result. The list goes on.
Take charge every day. Don’t be a bystander in your education. The internet has opened up many resources, and they are free. You don’t have to spend money or be hampered by grades or percentages that can distract us from having fun with learning. Take just a few minutes everyday to pursue something that interests you, or that you delight in. Enjoy learning! The best things in life are learned outside of a book.
Okay, it’s time to get back to finals. Bottom line: question every system, and then question it again. Keep asking questions. Always.