Sleep, Travelling and Education

I must not have gotten more than two hours of sleep last night. I should have gotten about 8, considering the time I went to bed. Instead, I ended up lying there, unable to fall asleep. All I could think about was travelling. It seemed like this was the most unproductive thing I could be doing at the time, but I really was attempting to fall asleep.

I got to thinking how I would leave tomorrow morning and just go driving. I want to drive across the US and back across Canada. It would be a month-long trip in which I would spend my time visiting and travelling at my own pace. I wouldn't sleep in hotels most of the time, but rather I would try and be more self-sufficient and camp in my tent whenever I could. This is a true learning experience, and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I think this is the best way of getting to know yourself and society in general. You can relate to others better once you see how they live. I feel like we make no effort to do so, for knowledge or personal enrichment. The media occasionally tries to show what it's like to live a certain lifestyle, but it's not as provocative as actually witnessing it yourself.

School can be so trivial sometimes. With all the ressources that we currently have at our disposal in libraries, online, and our acquaintances' knowledge, school appears to be ever more irrelevant. Many of the things that I'm learning, I could be learning on my own with very little change in the end result. It almost appears that the only role of school is to force you to learn the material through examinations and assignments. This really doesn't seem to me like it's worth as much as they make it out to be. The only thing people like me want in the end is a piece of paper that states we have acquired the knowledge. I couldn't care less about alumni crap and university pride. I don't actually think all my professors are absolute geniuses. In fact, most of them are quite average. The only thing that makes them so special is that they know the subject matter quite well. Short of having that knowledge instantly transferred to me, I don't see how it could be more beneficial to me to listen to a lecture and then be tested on it, as opposed to actually reading up and researching the topic on my own time out of pure interest.

Most of what I have learned in university so far have been nothing more than minor details added on to pre-existing knowledge. Most of these I will never have a use for, and if I do, the Internet has allowed the information the be instantly accessible to me.

Of course, I'm not really speaking for technical programs and math/science-based fields. These certainly require a greater deal of hands-on experience and a much different approach. I would argue, though, that it's only a matter of time before the tools become available to allow people to learn these disciplines on their own. In fact, I think that a lot of it is already possible, it's just a matter of organizing and structuring the information in a better manner.

My criticism, for the moment, is therefore geared towards more abstract and theoretical subject matters like any of the social science or arts disciplines. Is university, in many ways, designed for people who would not ordinarily pursue the material on their own, understanding that they will require some of it in their future career? Is university basically for "lazy" people? Certainly, there is a lot of work to do, but how much of it is truely benefitial and unique to the university experience, in the long run?


At 12/10/05 11:21 PM, Anonymous Meldon said...

Not to burst your bubble, but School is important because getting the knowledge id only half the issue, school teaches you how to use it.

Thats not so trivial, and despite boring professors and lousy assignments, we are molded to think a certain way when it comes to solving a problem, or relaying a message.

The exams are a test of our ability to apply that knowledge in situations that are diffrent from the regular fare, or at least thats what they are supposed to be.

Learning at oyur own pace will only put you ahead in a few subjects, the ones you enjoy, whereas going to school and learning, or in you case being taught, diffrent subjects make you a more rounded individual, and also put you at the same level as everyone else, so you can actually be a good part of a team, considering so many jobs today need you to work in a team.

So before thinking school is a waste of time, because you can do it yourself, ask yourself if you want to do it, because in the end, you probably wont learn anything at all unless you are forced.

At 12/10/05 11:58 PM, Blogger Portelance said...

I don't think that the concept of school is bad at all. Certainly it serves a purpose and it has served me well (generally). I'm more of an advocate of the method of giving people the tools and a basic level of knowledge in all subjects and then letting them pursue further into higher education on their own if they like. Obviously this doesn't work for everyone, though.

The fact that you say I wouldn't learn anything on my own if I wasn't forced illustrates that you don't really know me. :) I'd say 50% of my general knowledge comes from my own "education" and the rest from schooling.


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