I believe in the intrinsic value of learning.
I am the youngest in a big “yours, mine, and ours” family. There were a lot of mouths to feed growing up. My parents “got by” the best they could. While both attended, neither graduated from college. Mom often tells stories about my grandpa’s refusal to help her with college, “Adele, why would I waste good money to send you to college when you’ll find a man to take care of you?” Women’s Lib hadn’t hit full force in her hometown yet.
Because of this, college was encouraged in my family. While my parents couldn’t back me financially, they put a roof over my head and helped wherever possible. After a year of saving up, I started at a commuter school just five miles from the house I grew up in.
My first semester of college, a new dimension was opened for me. Here, people generated ideas, debated theories, and dissected knowledge. There was a passion for learning that erupted in me. The world I’d always lived in seemed suddenly dynamic and vivid the more understanding I gained. I recognized that there was more available and waiting for my discovery than I had time to find. I threw myself into my education, worked odd jobs that fit my schedule, took out student loans, and competed for every scholarship. I knew this experience was worth the sacrifices.
Now, more than six years after that first semester in college, I have transitioned from student to teacher. This decision came at that pivotal point in every student’s education when they must ask themselves, “So, what is the practical application of my major?” Practicality was what first drew me to teaching. But this passion for learning I’d been fueling made me realize I had to share this gift. I wanted to help someone to experience the same opportunities I had.
Today I teach English to freshmen and sophomores. When it comes to teaching, I am a novice at best. Once again, I am reminded of all I have left to learn. In my students’ faces I see some who have already caught the learning bug and others who, unfortunately, struggle through each grueling class period. It is for these students I work hardest, catching them away from their peers to talk about future goals, hunting for materials and methods which will reach their “bored-out-of-my-skull” gazes and strike even slight interest. I work hardest for these students because they need and deserve the best I can give. It is consistently defeating work. Self-doubt runs rampant. I tell myself that if I can help just one student recognize their potential and give them tools for the road of learning and sacrifices ahead, I have made a significant impact and all the difference in the world for that one person.
I believe the gift of learning is a lifelong process that requires sacrifice and has no final destination. Education is the currency required for true success. It is the ticket to a higher quality of life, a better understanding of self, and a deeper appreciation for everything and everyone around you. And this, I believe.
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