Monday, April 4, 2011

Don't Let School Get in the Way of Learning

What is the end goal of education? Is it to learn and gain knowledge? Or is it to enable us the ability to get a job? Or maybe education is just supposed to prove to someone that we have the endurance and perseverance to stick with something and finish it. Regardless of the point of education I have found that school continuously find a way to distract me from learning and gaining real knowledge for my chosen career. From being taught outdated material, or maybe information that is completely wrong, or just principles that have no use formal education seems to be more of a distraction and deterrence to learning.

Think about it, we are stuck in a classroom taking classes that just require us to regurgitate what ever the professor trys to feed us during a lecture in a dark classroom with a god awful power point that breaks all the rules of presentations we learned in speech class. Ok…. Students don’t learn anything from that. I could memorize and spit out information when I was 7 years old. Not to mention I don’t want to waste my time trying to remember which philosopher said what, and which sociology principles were derived from whom. Honestly that information is only useful on Jeopardy and Cash Cab.

Even classes within our major have “major” flaws. (yep that’s a pun, I paid attention in my writing classes in high school) We are taught outdated material or even taught how to do things completely wrong, and graded more for organization rather than our understanding of concepts or if we can complete challenging procedures. But this post is not about what is wrong with classes, its more about how to play the game of school and win.

I have found that experience working enables me to learn much faster than memorizing information that I have to sift through in order to find useful material. School throws a lot of information at you and expects you to know all of it, but offers relatively little time for experience in real world situations. The only way to learn how things are accomplished in the real world is to be doing them in the real world, outside of school. This statement would imply that learning takes place away from school. So if I learn outside of school then what is school for, and why am I still enrolled? Simply put, school is just a means to obtain a degree, not an education.

The degree helps enable us to get a job, it shows that we can accomplish something that takes time to achieve. It shows dedication and perseverance, but does not necessarily mean that we learned anything useful.

If going to school is just a means to get a degree and most of the learning can be done with experience, then we simply have to play a balancing game to put as little effort towards school as possible in order to make as much time as possible to gain experience and build relationships with those who actually work in the industry and have relevant information to share with us.

One may ask, “shouldn’t you do the best you can at everything?”—YES! I strive to do my best, but if my goal is to learn about audio and I have determined that I will learn more outside of school then my best will be spending as much time gaining real experience, not studying trying to memorize how to calibrate outdated equipment. If I can minimize the time I put forth towards class then, I can focus that time on gaining experience and making connections that will lead to a job in the future. Studying or making my documentation look perfect will just get me a good grade, and maybe some more head knowledge that I have to sift through to find applicable information that I wouldn’t have learned from experience alone.

I have now determined that I will not only learn more from experience outside of class, but I will also make more connections that lead to jobs in the future. So how do I know how much effort to put towards class, if my goal is to save my time for other things? Its simple… just enough to get by. It’s a thin line to walk, but the time and stress you save pays off.

I know this is all very cynical and is a bit exaggerated, but it makes sense. Don’t let school get in the way of real learning and opportunities. There are some classes that are worth putting a ton of effort into because you actually walk away learning, but there are just as many if not more that gain you nothing but some head knowledge that may or may not be useful, and of course there are some classes that even teach material that is flat out wrong. In the end, a student has to play a game trying to sift through what is worth spending time on in school vs. what is not, and the more time you don’t have to spend on school is the more time you have to do other more beneficial things.

“Those that can't do, teach, and those that can't teach... teach gym.”

--Dewey Finn, School of Rock