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Posts tagged ‘education’

Under Objective Eyes

One of the best things about being around someone that is not family, not of “the same cloth,” is that, if you allow yourself, this person enables you to see your surroundings objectively under new light.

While, for some, it may be painful to see their backyard in reveal, for me, the experience has been one of relief and clarity — my intuition has finally received some sort of back up support!

Now, to the meat (Certified Organic, of course): Every city, neighborhood or house has it’s own culture, unique norms and social constructs. The core of any such assemblage is created by the gradual solidification of a specific belief, often to the effect of the eventual exclusion of others. As of right now, my surroundings largely consist of liberal, highly educated, highly-travelled and well-off individuals.  And put simply, this group of people seem to have bought into the lure of the meme of Organic. To exemplify the extent to which an idea can take over unassumingly, I am going to talk about the community of Organic followers.

The idea of Organic has, in the last few years, become so common—thus so watered down, that it has lost its true meaning. It has been spun by the “socially conscious” into a belief, without them even realizing they are doing so.

I cannot tell you how many times the word, in its noun and adjective forms, comes up in conversation, most often when the topic is not even food. At a recent conference I attended, the word got dropped in almost all of the plenary sessions presented, and let me mention: this was a conference on IMPACT INVESTING!

How many times have I seen my own mother pick up health products, energy drinks, vitamins, oils and supplements JUST BECAUSE they are labeled Organic? Each week a new item comes up, organic garments are woven, new soaps are created and thus she feels, like many others in her community, that she must buy every new thing with that Organic CCOF label.  I have seen how, as the product is replaced by another Organic product, she too will buy that one, use it for a few months and then move onto the next Organic fad.

While buying and “living Organic” is not the worst agenda a group can have, it has made me realize how easily subconscious waves can be spread without ever being seen or processed as such by the entity in focus.

It is fascinating to see hypotheses regurgitated over and over again in this pin pointed group, and to see how do’s become norms and norms because absolutes. And as consolidation of an idea occurs, the confidence in that label morphs into the shunning of those who do not comply with the “rules.”

I agree that health is important, nutrition and exercise are key but, pouring Vanilla CoffeeMate creamer into my guest’s hot mug, instead of the Organic alternative, is not going to kill; it will just shave off a bit of the majority’s untouchability so coveted.

What if Humanistic Education = Scientific Education ?

If you ask someone what they would do if they could change any one thing in the world the responses usually range from world peace to ending hunger and stopping wars. So, imagine my surprise when, amongst a room-full of recent Lebanese engineer graduates, I hear repeatedly: If I were a dictator…. I would give more money to art education and make it so the humanities were as respected as the sciences and creative jobs would be just as well paid as those in the scientific arena.

If only this group of friends knew that education reform is one of my greatest passions!

I than had a conversation with one friend who could have been my mirror: she remarked on how she feels that university made her into a robot. For four years, her brain served as a hard drive and was forced full with theory, which she would have to regurgitate onto exams. Basically, she toiled for four years of intense study of formulae to achieve a piece of paper. And now what? She needs to get a job as soon as possible to pay off her loans.

Does this story sound familiar anyone? For some reason, stories like this keep following me wherever I go and they continue to push me to reevaluate my educational path.

Yet To Come: The Best Years of My Life

It hadn’t hit me until a friend said to me, giggling with that vacation glow, “I am on summer break but you are just beginning everything.”  Now I understand why being on summer break has felt so anti-climactic. In college, I would continuously remark how my every day life felt like summer camp (No, I never went to sleep away camp but this was how I imagined it). My friends would agree and chime in, “Yes, I was thinking the same thing earlier today.” I have left that campy bubble and entered another: that of the “real world.”

I keep recalling the relief I felt one year ago when I graduated high school. My IB exams were done and I was off to college– “the best years of my life.” Now, I feel relieved but for a different reason: I will be 20 and in charge of my life. I will be 20 and living the life I create and want. I will be 20 and out of the machine I was put in and, it will be my choice if I want to go back. Curiously, I will be studying this summer out of desire to gain a valuable skill while dissecting cultural complexities–my greatest hobby.

I have only been out of school for four days but my to-do list has grown with my many scattered plans, which I have begun to act on. In fact, I will be attending my first skillshare class this Wednesday evening!  Some may say I am all over the place but I truly feel that I need to try out as my different things as I can in order to find my focus. And so my journey, which many do not understand, scorn and become defensive about (I am not saying you should change YOUR path) has begun.

Skills, skills, skills

As an article in the Atlantic magazine said today: “For an education to be worth anything these days, it needs to impart skills.” Reading these words solidified the WHY I am leaving higher education for an alternative path where my goal is to become a skill-gainer. I fear that after four years, although I would have a diploma in my hands, I will not have learned any tool that I can use in the “real world.” No wonder 53% of all newly graduated college students are unemployed or are working jobs which are way under their supposed skill level as BA holders.

Language fluency is a skill. That is why I have embarked on the journey to learn Arabic. (Yes, I think the language is beautiful as well!). Painting and art are other activities that, in my mind, are tools. In the fall, I am planning on taking an EMT course in hopes of getting certified. Who wouldn’t want a person who is qualified in saving lives in their vicinity? And I hope one day to be able to code, among other aspirations. Now, let’s see how this all unfolds…

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