Be Our Own Teacher

Standard education attempts an impossible feat. This system is designed to jolt children out of their ignorance, teach them all the discoveries brought about by human exploration, deliberation, and experimentation. This system, unfortunately, also fails miserably. Schools, universities, and similar institutions aren’t always reliable in enriching our minds. It seems as though trite learning methods we employ actually train students to excel as trivia masters. Students, seeking to retain the specific facts just to instantaneously spout them off, miss the whole point of education, and sometimes a teacher revisits a scientific principle or a specific detail in the text so many times, students become reliant on rote memorization instead of learning, learning why this branch of knowledge is important and how it affects our lives. Schools attempted to accommodate everyone and continually drove the vitality out of education. I think we all remember worrying about what letter or number would appear on our work instead of concerning ourselves with the didactic material. Hand in hand with grade obsession, test taking techniques dominate the lesson plan instead of content and the meaning behind the facts. Any personalized endeavor to learn is decidedly absent in the classroom but fortunately, standard education isn’t the only route to knowledge. Let’s thank God that there’s no monopoly on information. Tenets in certain academic fields shouldn’t be treated as trivia regurgitated back to please authority.

At a young age, adults instill in us a respect for authority, but it’s gone too far. When anxiety over grades consume us, learning becomes diluted, and we’re committing to memory specialized bits of instruction instead of connecting ideas together, fully digesting the content, thinking critically, extracting any meaning from our teachers’ lecture. This jaded classroom ritual repelled me. However, my pursuit of knowledge wasn’t totally abandoned. I took refuge in books, and I fell in love with reading non-fiction. While alone, secluded and removed from unnecessary penalties like bad grades, never ceasing repetition, and mechanical class discussions that lay the groundwork for learning the jargon instead of the subject itself. I felt completely open for knowledge to seep in. Sometimes I wished to download information into my brain like a media file, and my curiosity lead to a growing impatience. Tackling complex questions just created more questions and the eagerness sometimes so great, I dug deeper into the subject matter before my was mind primed to absorb the new material.

Reading non-fiction to comprehend the laws that guide the universe, the meaning that gives it its essence doesn’t have to be high-brow or a tool used to belittle people. Knowledge can be approached differently and when we’re alone with a book or a notebook, we carry out a lesson plan on our own terms. We certainly won’t adjust our pace, depth of thought, or level of activity to accommodate others. We’re exploring the myriad of branches of knowledge starting with wisdom from the ancients and ending with us. What will we do with the texts from long gone arbiters of truth? How do the ancients’ discoveries compare to the pundits and the scholars of today? Every library and internet connection is a gateway to understanding ourselves and the structures in place that run civilization. Let’s rip out of our cocoons shielding us from knowledge, and let’s not forget how fragile and brittle our cocoons really are. Our cocoons only consist of material such as this: pop culture, shameless materialism, shallow music, fashion as dictated by clothes manufacturers, and gadgets designed to keep us hooked through operant conditioning, etc.

We only need choice and dedication in tearing open the cocoon, not brawn, not an already sharp, ingenious intellect. Once we diminish our need for cheap entertainment and feel our natural inclination to explore, we’ll truly feel the joy of learning. Let’s learn on our own terms, without a tyrant who establishes rules not for us but for the convoluted system. It’s up to us to read whatever we can, digest it, file the new information into our own neural database and finally, grade ourselves. The process of grading ourselves eliminates any loss of will due to poor grades or disingenuous teachers who’ve already given up on us because we might be too poor as the stress of poverty clashes with the education system. Self-education is compatible with us. Self-education won’t teach us useless test taking skills but only true knowledge not contaminated with propaganda, tricks, or misguided pursuits of the meaningless letter A or the meaningless number 100. These symbols only measure the strength of our memory and the amount of effort toward rote memorization. Retaining information is not knowledge and certainly not wisdom. To truly know we must read, think, and experiment for ourselves.