I don’t know how I found this article, but I did. I went from my Facebook newsfeed, to something to do with Joe Rogan, to something to do with him supporting gay marriage, to this article called The Danger of Telling Poor Kids that College is the Key to Social Mobility. Although it’s written by an American-based educator (Andrew Simmons) about American teens nearing their high school graduation, this kind of hit home to me, an Australian who is definitely NOT a teenager.
What Simmons is basically saying in the article is that kids from low socio-economic communities shouldn’t always be told that college mainly allows you the chance to get good jobs and earn good money. They should also look at higher education as a means of “intellectual exploration”, a chance to be immersed in creative new ways of thinking, grand ideas and innovation.
What I got out of this article is that college (or university, or higher education, or any form of continuing education) should be looked at as “an opportunity to experience an intellectual awakening, not just increase their earning power”, regardless of whether you’re a rich kid born with a silver spoon in your mouth or a poor kid whose mother works numerous jobs to make ends meet.
Why does this article interest me so much? Because I’m conscious of the fact that I am not a university student anymore, and that my days of further study have to be weighed up against issues like time and money. During my uni days it was so much easier to take higher education for granted. But now that I am back into studying and learning and wanting to know more about the world, I realise what a privilege it was when I could study full time, without the pressures of work and time and career, and know that all I needed was an open mind and a willingness to learn.
I loved that you were allowed to be an idealistic uni student, because that’s what higher education should be about. It’s supposed to take people out of their comfort zones and show them the best way to be and think and create, and not just churn out worker bees.
I also wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth so I am even more grateful of the fact that I was offered that chance to study and learn. Everyone, regardless of how much money they come from, should be exposed to thought-provoking ideas and ground-breaking studies. And the article is right in saying these innovators shouldn’t be from just one facet of society. You can’t build a society if it only represents one group of people, and if only the privileged are given the tools to do that, then that just shuts off the rest of the people who can make a valuable contribution to the world but were not given the means to explore and experiment.
I’m not a uni student anymore but I definitely see the value in learning and growing, and I appreciate those people who can make me see things from another perspective.