The prodigious list of learning mechanisms and strategies seems to carry on past learners themselves. Being structured into clusters by many educators, as the students who work well in their own respective sectors. Except, this usually results with creating 2 stereotypical groups, the math and science kids and then the history and English ones. But what about the students who work better in an aural setting, as opposed to spatial? What about the individuals who consider and value logical solidarity in all their school work, while paired up for a huge group project with interpersonal and linguistic learners? Yes, of course, learning how to work with others different than us is an imperative part of life, but don’t you think learning how to work best yourself is more indispensable?
Throughout the American University system and beyond in many edification demanding cultures, we see rampant mental illness and instability, from young adults. It is troubling to an extent to see your friends and colleagues literally lose their mind and physical health because of the structure in place for you to be a certain way in order to attain and achieve a certain profession. My philosophy on education, and really learning in general, is to defy the stigma that I need to be classified in any one way by any one group of people to be successful. That is blasphemy.
My finding as a university student, now in my third year, is to make your education more individualistic than anything else. There are some things we still are not able to avoid. For example General Education Mathematics (hell for me) or Composition 101 (hell for others). But, with the increasing interdisciplinary and unconventional mindset flowing into the universities of America like a refreshing burst of cold mountain run off stream in the warming spring months, there is hope. To be an individual in this world is the single most heroic act one can execute for themselves.
As I grew older and more knowledgeable, my individuality has come to light more and more as each month passes. I now know that I am an extremely solitary learner. I have noticed that circumstances in which I must work with others doesn’t only increase my anxiety, but drains me emotionally. Now, I’m not saying that I am a person who can’t and won’t work with others; many situations not only require multiple people but also, multiple opinions. I am understanding of these situations and give my full attention and effort to them, but they are not always necessary.
Why in the world would reading a 100 word passage out of a book require me to group with 5 other people and move desks all around to discuss our thoughts? STOP! Simple and transparent tasks do not need to be dissected by forcing an awkward situation on your students who may have no interest what so ever with ever mingling with one another. From an educators standpoint, I sound biased because I know I am a solitary learner and clearly am not viewing these standpoints retrospectively. Except, I am a student who has been in these pointless groups multiple times throughout my education and guess what…. WE HATE IT! Yeah, I am biased, I’m taking the sides of students because it also affects me a great deal, because.. I am a student.
By broadly classifying people we are disrespecting their individuality, and with disrespecting their individuality we are disrespecting their learning environment.
I created my program from the ground up, and have taken it under the knife yet again because well I changed as I got older and experienced new things, and found a better route for my life. “No problem!” My Interdisciplinary Studies Advisor tells me, I can just switch some things around and pop in a few new courses, and with a killer essay to throw it all together? Call it presto. But, those who find themselves 3 years into an accounting or communications major; and are having the sensation that they would rather pull their teeth out than go back to class tomorrow; yet feeling they have no other choice, is not only unhealthy, but uncanny. An individualistic approach to our education is widely more accommodating to our growing minds and ever expanding souls.
Soul, usually not a highly regarded word in an educational setting because, like what even is that? Enlightened mindful thought, umm what? Why are these terms so scary to higher educators? Because they think the only way to real knowledge acquisition is putting our minds through torment? Obviously there are many who take into account that the precious state of our souls are in fact who we really are, and by being mindful in the vigorous protection of that soul, is obligatory for personal success. Although there are some, they are few and far in between. Thankfully I chose to attend Plymouth State where many in the community prioritize these values. They urged me to try the extraordinary, to take the risks I needed, and to essentially nourish my soul.
So I set off this past fall to Seville, Spain, and lived and breathed everything from immense cultural tribulation to exceptional cultural divinity. All things I encountered by myself, often times with literally no one to go to as I was 6 hours ahead of my family in America and failed to engage in any deep friendships. Someone who hadn’t confronted the depths of oneself in the past would undeniably crumble. Due to my thoughts about Spain prior to leaving, how well I know myself and how well I know difficulty usually results in vital lessons, I knew my life was going to get magnificently harder before it got easier. But, the most important part of this is believing with every fiber of your being that it will indeed, get easier. Too many of us live everyday without believing in a single thing, day in and day out, same habitual motions. To many people, these motions are incessant and irksome, but what else is there to do?
Everything. There is everything else to do. Do not allow your fear stand in the way of your true you. Your creative, wonderful, inspiring, staggering, extraordinary, and unbelievable self is there, it is real and you are 100% entitled to that. I made it an essential point in my education and life to never stop searching and seeking for more of me, more of my truest and purest self. Which has brought me away from America yet again, as I am studying in Edinburgh, Scotland this spring semester.
I have only positive forward thinking aspirations for my life and for my education, but it didn’t happen over night and it won’t for you either. Fight back the mechanical suggestions, the recurrent recommendations and set flight. You haven’t the slightest idea where whole-hearted, raw passion can and will bring you if you don’t.
(Link to original piece i wrote for openlearnerspatchbook.org https://openlearnerpatchbook.org/pathways/patch-two-take-the-wheel/)