Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Good of Education

I love to learn. That is probably why I may never actually leave the classroom (figuratively speaking of course). I am one that want to take full advantage of every opportunity I am given to learn. I make the most of the even the most mundane classes, from Physics (interesting concepts, but horrible teacher) to Deaf Heritage (a topic I never really thought about before). I am usually the annoying kid in class who always has something to say about what the teacher is explaining. This has its positive and negative effects.

The Negative:
My obsession with school almost always estranges me from my peers. Few college students that I come in contact care about their education the way I do. Most of my classmates just want to get the grade and move on. One graduate student even went so far as to say that her college education is "knowledge bulimia" in that she upchucks all of the info she learned at the end of each quarter in order to make room for the next quarter. I am the opposite in that I hope to retain as much info about the class as possible (in case I need it).

Fortunately technology has made this much easier and less messy. The quarter has just passed and I have spent about two or three hours scanning in all of my notes, hand-outs, and tests from the quarter. I have documented each item in its appropriate spot, and pushed it back into my school archives. I can breathe easier, but I can't easily forget what I have learned. I may be considered by some as obsessive, but I prefer the term "knowledge-centric." This centricity can easily seen as a negative, but only from the outside.

The positive:

I always try to do more than I need to. This often annoys the other students (especially if there is a curve), but I feel that I owe it to myself to do the best that I can possibly do. Part of this is immersing myself in the the subject. I do this to the point that I blend the past experiences I've had with what I'm learning and get highly interested in even the most difficult subjects. This generally leades to several after class discussions with the professor. My professors have usually learned that I am a bit more committed than the usual student, and consequently entrust me with some interesting assignments.

For example: I made a comment in class about Dr. Seligman's work on learned optimism and explanatory style. The teacher was so interested that she asked for some more information. I went home and composed an email with some of the basics about learned optimism as it pertained to the topic in class. She then emailed me and asked if I wanted to help her do research on the topic that I had brought to her attention. Wow! I wasn't expecting that to come from a simple comment in class. This same professor also submitted my name to be a good candidate for the new Organizational Leadership Club that our school is trying to start. I was able to become the inaugural recruitment chair. Neat opportunities.

Another example is a professor in one class who started lobbying for me to go to her department's masters program once I completed my Bachelor's Degree. It seemed interesting, and I began doing some research into the degree and my options. At the end of the quarter after I received one of only two A's in the class, I was asked by the same professor if I would be willing to work for her. The job would be reading the textbook for her class next quarter (which I will be taking) and helping with the research to get it ready for publication. I am amazed at the opportunity to learn more even outside the classroom.

It is for these reasons that I am happy to say that I may never leave the classroom. Even if I don't quite see things the same way my peers do. This has been a great quarter for these opportunities, and I look forward to next quarter.

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