Education is Not Found in a Book
Melissa Penn Student, USC
hile baby-sitting my younger cousin Kelsey, I noticed that she was frantically searching through a stack of books. When I questioned what she was looking for she responded frankly, "An education." I had to laugh at such a childish remark. Many individuals believe that education is simply obtained by reading books, listening to lectures or sitting in classrooms. However, education is not received by being an active listener, or an excellent reader. College does not guarantee a higher education; rather, it provides the atmosphere and tools that are required to develop into an educated, and scholarly individual. Education therefore is achieved by progressing through the different stages of knowledge, and acquiring the skills required to be an active observer and participant in the real world. Education is too often emphasized by the regurgitation of facts, which diminishes the use of critical thinking. There are too many dualistic students in society today who think topologically. That is, they believe that there are only two different answers to every question, the right one, and the wrong one. This type of thinking not only limits the quality of education that the student receives, but it also exploits the teacher's indolence and insufficient ability to bestow a higher education upon their students. Although I was ranked number four in my graduating class of 371 students, I do not feel like I have received a higher education than the student who was ranked number 371. Why? Simply because high school is equivalent of a board game, one repeats what the teacher said, one's thinking is emulative of the teachers, and one turns in the "busy work" on time. Hence, high school has educated an individual on how to be resistant to critical thinking. On the other hand, college professors attempt to make students think critically about issues, which concern their lives, and the lives of others. A good college education is not bestowed to the students by their professors; rather, the students furnish their own quality of education. A student can choose to remain resistant to critical thinking, or the student can maneuver into the next stage of education, which is thinking with multiple perspectives. In this multiple stage, the student begins to regard issues with diverse perspectives and to consider multiple answers to questions (Mitchell, 2000). In contrast with high school, college encourages students to argue with the decisions and claims of the professors. Professors desire to encounter contradictory views about specific topics, because professors realize that the world is not dualistic. Although the student is at first aggravated, frustrated and overwhelmed by the rejection of dualistic thinking, the student slowly learns to adapt to the recommendation of critical thinking. Despite being warned that college would be a major reality check, I assumed that I would be able to succeed in college like I did in high school. I figured that I would be able to maintain good grades in college without a struggle. However, after experiencing my first year at the University of Southern California, I have realized that receiving a higher education is a serious and difficult task. An education is not something that a person can find in a book, or order in a catalogue. In order to receive a higher education it is necessary that one apply what he/she has learned in their classes to the real world. This application of knowledge will facilitate in comprehension of the real world, and the social problems that ensconce the world. I have come to the conclusion that students must motivate themselves to learn and to mature. Moreover, college does not guarantee a higher education because it is the student's responsibility to develop into a critical thinker. Professors provide the tools to think critically, but it is the student who teaches him/herself how to use these tools. After the student explores the tools that the teacher presents, he/she begins to identify him/herself as a scholar, or as an immature student. The scholars begin to develop relative thinking perspectives, and examine how things work in society. These students do not condemn the critical challenges that the professors present to them. Instead, these students find it enjoyable to discover how each part of the system fits together in order to make the whole. Thus, college does not only offer the opportunity to attain a higher education, but college provides students with the opportunity to discover who they are, what they represent, and what their goals are. Similarly, college provides the opportunity for an individual to become committed to a certain subject, and achieve a higher education. College cannot force students to take an active involvement in their educations. However, college explores diverse subjects and allows students the opportunity to develop an intimate relationship with what they are learning. For example, a student who is aroused by the contrasting views about the cause of alcoholism may become completely devoted to the topic and begin to involve himself or herself completely within the subject. The student may begin to research the subject, read books and develop their own ideas about the subject, without being told to do so. An individual with an active commitment to the growth and development of his/her knowledge has achieved the highest of educations. This individual is prepared to change the world, and offer diverse views about life. In essence, a higher education is achieved when an individual willingly maneuvers through the different stages of knowledge. In order for students to receive a higher education it is necessary that they learn to think critically and not topologically. Although some may consider high school as providing an adequate education, high school negatively encourages dualistic thinking. However, college is an institution that successfully encourages students to think critically and influences them to develop multiple perspectives on life. I have found my first year of college to be a valuable experience. Not only have I been challenged to think critically, but I have begun to develop alternative perspectives on life. I look forward to receiving a higher education by using the tools provided by my professors.