Something missing in your education? Hint: It’s not always what you were taught!
“No matter what he does, every person on earth plays a central role in the history of the world.
And normally he doesn’t know it.” ~Paulo Coelho
Those of us who’ve been out in the cold cruel world for a decade or so have a pretty good idea of what we can do – our strengths – and what we have trouble doing – our weaknesses. We sometimes think there’s a gap in our knowledge bank. Did that college math instructor zoom past the basics? Was our high school curriculum weak in grammar and verbal communication? Did I sleep through something? We try to figure out what courses we need to take, or re-take.
And boy, do we take courses! There are 6,358,652 people taking on-line courses from the Coursera partnering institutions alone (as of January 31, 2014). I found more data, breaking down 7,000 out of nearly 10,000 enrolled students who are taking at least one internet class. That was from one southwest university alone! K-12 classes are available on the internet to kids young and older that provide all the same testing and requirements as brick and mortar schools. Click here http://stories.k12.com/ and read some of these kids’ stories. Wow, wish I’d had that option.
But wait – what haven’t you learned? That’s the question, especially for those of us who have finished our basic formal education. I realized a long time ago that the experiences, events and people we are exposed to in our early lives, and in our parents’ and grandparents’ lives, teach us through observation as well as at a different level of instruction.
We observe greetings (from how-do-you-do to oh-my-God-I’ve-missed-you-so-much), and the different types of hugs, kisses, and handshakes that get exchanged. We hear polite conversation and questions, as well as shared stories, family history and tall stories. Our instructions may range from “just do what I do” to “you better not embarrass me in front of rich Uncle Patrick!” So much to be shared with siblings after the gathering, especially the off-color stuff!
We came from the ‘children should be seen and not heard,’ unless-asked-a-direct-question, generation. I usually heard “you better be good” or “just don’t get in any trouble.” It surprised me that after my grandmother’s death, we also lost a whole group of ‘family.’ That was because my grandmother was outgoing; she loved and attracted people. Her daughter was very shy, self-conscious and introverted. I must have been a super challenge to her!
I also learned a lot about financial accountability from my father. The best example of that involves a young teenage girl begging for a fancy record player on which to play my 45s (de rigeur for my generation). I got it for my birthday. Nearly a year later, my dad took me to Sears. We went up to the offices, where there was a little window. I wasn’t paying much attention to what he was doing until he returned his curved wallet back to his pants pocket and handed me a very official-looking document.
“Here. You now own your record player,” he said to me. “I just made the last payment. Enjoy it.”
Reading that back to myself, it can sound almost mean. He didn’t say it in a mean way. He was proud he was able to buy and pay for that treasure. I never looked at large gifts exactly the same way again.
We stumbled along the way, missing some life lessons that were beyond our parents’ experiences and knowledge. But we were taught the value of hard work, education, good ‘work’ ethics and independence. All those people changed my history through subconscious education. I’m so glad they did.