Welcome to month nine of the “Who I Am project. This month the prompt is “Education,” and like my previous posts, I wrote this as if I were speaking to Eve (and any other children I have in the future).
I always knew I would one day go to college.
For many Jewish families, education and schooling are very important. Those values were ingrained in me from a young age, and it never once crossed my mind that I wouldn’t go to college immediately after graduating from high school.
Some might call me a big of a nerd. I love learning and am prone to taking classes very seriously. So much so that I spent the plane ride home from Nice finishing up a final paper for a course I was taking for fun.
Papa asked me why I was taking this class so seriously when the grade didn’t count for anything.
I told him, “I can’t not take a class seriously.”
This wasn’t always the case.
In elementary school, my grades didn’t always reflect my abilities. I didn’t do poorly in school, but I didn’t always “apply” myself. I always did my homework — I was a stickler for the following the rules and worried about getting in trouble, so there was no way I would dream about skipping it.
However, when it came to studying and taking tests I didn’t always work as hard.
Finally, at some point in early middle school, after many chats with your Nana and Grandpa, it connected for me. I took learning more seriously and “applied” myself, getting into advanced and honors classes and always placing on the honor role.
My sense of pride and self-worth were very much tied to how I did in school and the grades I received. I wanted Nana and Grandpa’s approval, and I craved the positive attention I received when I came home with an A.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to do well and succeed. Unfortunately, for many years I missed the value in learning. For me, it was a means to end — doing well in school meant getting into a good college, and in many ways making my family proud. It wasn’t until later in college that I realized that there was so much more to getting a good education.
Education is more than just the classes you take, the grades you get, and the schools you attend.
I realize now that education is also an experience. It’s learning about the world and understanding things from different viewpoints.
While I feel very fortunate to have had the education I did and to go to the school I attended, and I very much value what I have learned from my college and graduate school experiences, I recognize now that a significant portion of my education has nothing to do with school.
My education also includes backpacking around South America with Papa, running my own business and website, and being a parent.
(As you’ll hopefully see one day, being a parent is a constant hands-on education.)
I am always seeking opportunities to learn, whether it be through reading a parenting book or taking an online course for my business or a creative course in the community.
Do I want you to take school seriously and work hard? Of course. Do I expect you to go to college? At this point, that is a resounding yes.
But my hope for you is that you appreciate the education you receive both inside and outside the classroom. I want to grant you opportunities to learn about the world and experience firsthand. I want you to learn because you enjoy it.
There is something so wonderful about the knowledge and skills you can learn when you soak in those opportunities and learn for the sake of learning.
(Just don’t forget to apply yourself along the way!)
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The “Who I Am” project is a year-long monthly series that my friend Dana at Kiss My Listfollow started, as a way to create a virtual scrapbook of your life to tell your kids, grandkids, spouse, friends, or whoever who you are. You can link up our posts, which goes live the third Tuesday of the month, on either of our blogs, and sign up to receive the prompts at the beginning of each month via e-mail. The themes so far have been Childhood, Love, Quirks & Habits, How you’ve changed since you were a child, Favorite Places, Betcha Didn’t Know, and Things I Love.