What Do You Mean, Educate Myself?
My first two years in college were uneventful and tedious. I received good grades in my courses, but I wasn’t excited about what I was learning. I didn’t even understand why I was required to take the courses on my schedule! One afternoon, I was complaining about these issues to one of my former professors. He told me something astonishing: if I truly wanted to become educated, I would have to educate myself! His comment caught me by surprise. I had always assumed that I would receive a good education by simply showing up to class, taking notes, and turning in assignments.
I hadn’t liked this professor’s class in my freshman year (I thought it was pretty boring), but his words now created a sudden and transformative awareness. His point was that the educational process only begins in the classroom, but the process is far from complete. We must take responsibility for our learning, and develop the life-long habit of learning for its own sake. After this discussion, I started to read much more widely and to take an interest in fields I had never examined before. In my last two years of college, I took many courses outside my major just to satisfy my reinvigorated desire to learn.
Even today, twenty-five years after I graduated from college, I pursue the ideal of lifelong learning by continual reading and thinking in my leisure hours. I often record my thoughts and reflections in a personal journal.
Steve Gable is Assistant Professor of Philosophy