Why I’m not spending any more money on education
The education system is deeply flawed to say the least. Informal and formal means of learning that require absorption and regurgitation of information but rarely reward synthesis of ideas in the form of off topic connections or anecdotal realizations are stifling our creativity.
As I just recently took a national board certifying exam and continue to pursue another course to eventually sit for an additional board certification, I can hear the devil on my shoulder clicking her heals as she whispers “no one really cares.”
This piece serves as my own personal reminder to reign it in. “It” being my spending, of both my time and money, on additional education that has yet to be correlated to higher earnings or the satiation of the void capitalist ideology chipped me with at birth.
The promise of education brings: MORE! More information, more knowledge, more glory, more money, more…power? But who is it really that is getting more of all of these things from you spending your hard won time and money on the exquisitely marketed business of education?
If it’s not you, then who is it exactly that has the unsanctioned privilege of indulging in the delectable fruits of your labor?
Here is why I’m not planning on spending any more money on formal education any time soon:
- The education system has never been good to people like me
I hated school growing up. Yes, even grade school when class is supposed to be “fun” and recess is everyone’s favorite subject.
Having gone to a private Catholic grade school and suffering from a slew of untreated mental health conditions that prevented me from concentrating and sitting still for the institutional brainwashing, I was frequently punished.
But even worse, I was made to believe that because my brain didn’t work the same way as most other kids’ brains do, I was dumb and incapable. I was insubordinate for having ideas that were incompatible with the gatekeepers’ agendas. I was even so outspoken and “loud” that a teacher recommended I have my hearing checked. I did. It was perfect.
I was fighting quiet battles in my home life and school was not so much of an escape as it was a perpetual purgatory.
Things only got worse once I begged to switch to public school for 7th & 8th grade. To my surprise at the behest of my mother, back to Catholic school I went for high school. To say things ended horrendously, would be an understatement, but that’s another story for a different day.
I wanted to drop out and get my GED. I even visited the local train station where adult education classes were held. As the daughter of two lawyers from an upper-middle class family, this would have brought my family great shame.
And so, I ended up finishing out my days in public high school. By the time I had realized I might actually want to go to college, it was too late. My scores and disciplinary record were too inconsistent, even though I managed to pull Dean’s list my last few semesters it wasn’t enough to sway even the public universities in my state.
2. This David has already slung her shot at the Goliath that was her inferiority complex
All that was to say, I have somewhat of a from rags to riches story as far as my life as a student goes.
I got into college on a conditional basis. That really rocked my world. It was all there in black and white that I didn’t deserve to have a legitimate education, I wasn’t fit to grace the speckled pattern lecture hall seats where most of my peers would get to pontificate over frivolous historical facts and ever-evolving scientific nomenclature as they leaned into the firm fingers behind the cranial rinse that is a liberal arts education.
But I was determined to prove myself. I was just as worthy as uncovering the subtlety seductive nature of Chiaroscuro and learning to appreciate the impressive impact of Colonialism on today’s Capitalist America as the next kid.
Fast forward just 3 years and I was graduating with various awards and honors in toe. People seemed to be intrigued by the underdog story that was my rising through the ranks of the educational system. A few newspapers even ran with the, “high school failure to graduating early with honors” headline I ceremoniously embodied.
The truth of it was, I still felt like the girl who couldn’t hack it at high school and who wrote a letter to the big guy (yes, that big guy G.O.D.…I went to Catholic school after all) BEGGING him to let me pass 7th grade so my mother would stop peering at my as if I were the stain of a peon.
Even with my newfound titles and personal triumph, I was unsure of myself. Perhaps even more so than I would have been if all that positive attention hadn’t been drawn to me because of my recent academic accomplishments.
I clung to the fact that I had material proof that I knew something, that I was somebody.
I had bought into the education systems propaganda that a degree equals success both personally and professionally and isn’t but a mere acknowledgment of the capability to sit still and reflect the opinions of your professors back to them.
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret going to college (I can’t exactly say the same about graduate school) and I don’t even regret the number of certifications I’ve acquired in the years since in various subjects that have interested me or have seemingly been to some benefit to my “career” (I really don’t have a clue what that exactly is).
Admittedly, I do get a sense of personal satisfaction in the form of an ego boost from completing a task that I set out to do.
3. I’m over living my life based around the idea that a total stranger will give my life meaning in the form of a “dream job” based on the letters after my name
The programming of society and the modern education system has had me on a conveyer belt plucking experiences, degrees, certifications etc. that I’ve been told would look great to a recruiter. These accolades were to be my golden ticket, an insurance policy for sure fire success; success as defined by an allowance to live independently and allot me some form of health insurance.
I’ve undoubtedly spent thousands of hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars to appear desirable to some corporate paper pusher in the guise of a Wizard.
I was too distracted by the thought that I would never be worthy enough to peer behind the curtain that I forgot to ask myself whether or not I really even cared to visit Oz in the first place.
In some ways, the education system has ravaged and disoriented me, just as the hurricane did Dorthy. Sometimes, I feel more cynical than even the heartless Tin Man and secretly just as scared the Lion, now if I only had a brain I hadn’t traded for societal validation.
Just as many Western millennials travel abroad to feed their aesthetic Instagram layouts, I’ve spent years of my life considering how activities I’ve pursued will add a glisten to my sparkling resume.
4. I’m more of an Alice anyway
While I do believe there is value in pursing what interests me, I’m past believing that degrees and certifications are a sure fire way to make for more favorable “career” outcomes. I’m tired of being disappointed by the increasingly diminishing returns on formal education.
When I pursue my interests purely based on curiosity I don’t have do it because I imagine some grand title at the end of it all or the promise land of being able to support myself without reliance on banks or the government.
My own personalized master classes are tailored to my interests. If I want to skip reading about a particular subject because I find it painfully boring or otherwise useless, not a single pang of guilt ripples through my body as it would if I were to do the same in formal course that I paid for.
I don’t feel beholden to a syllabus or disillusioned by the idea that a test score equates value to the time I’ve spent learning about a particular subject.
Everything I could ever want to know exists in some capacity or another — for FREE on the worldwide web. And I don’t even have to go to Oz, I just have to jump down an internet rabbit hole.
Whenever someone asks me whether or not I regret continuing my formal education I always say, “ask me in another of couple years.”
So, I’ll let you know then.
Thanks for reading.