Education is Not Found in a Book
Melissa Penn   Student, USC
hile baby-sitting my younger cousin Kelsey, I noticed that
she was frantically searching through a stack of books.
When I questioned what she was looking for she responded
frankly, "An education." I had to laugh at such a childish
remark. Many individuals believe that education is simply obtained
by reading books, listening to lectures or sitting in classrooms.
However, education is not received by being an active listener, or
an excellent reader. College does not guarantee a higher education;
rather, it provides the atmosphere and tools that are required to
develop into an educated, and scholarly individual. Education
therefore is achieved by progressing through the different stages
of knowledge, and acquiring the skills required to be an active
observer and participant in the real world.
Education is too often emphasized by the regurgitation of facts,
which diminishes the use of critical thinking. There are too many
dualistic students in society today who think topologically. That
is, they believe that there are only two different answers to every
question, the right one, and the wrong one. This type of thinking
not only limits the quality of education that the student receives,
but it also exploits the teacher's indolence and insufficient ability
to bestow a higher education upon their students. Although I was
ranked number four in my graduating class of 371 students, I do not
feel like I have received a higher education than the student who
was ranked number 371. Why? Simply because high school is equivalent
of a board game, one repeats what the teacher said, one's thinking is
emulative of the teachers, and one turns in the "busy work" on time.
Hence, high school has educated an individual on how to be resistant
to critical thinking.
On the other hand, college professors attempt to make students think
critically about issues, which concern their lives, and the lives of
others. A good college education is not bestowed to the students by
their professors; rather, the students furnish their own quality of
education. A student can choose to remain resistant to critical
thinking, or the student can maneuver into the next stage of education,
which is thinking with multiple perspectives. In this multiple stage,
the student begins to regard issues with diverse perspectives and to
consider multiple answers to questions (Mitchell, 2000). In contrast
with high school, college encourages students to argue with the
decisions and claims of the professors. Professors desire to encounter
contradictory views about specific topics, because professors realize
that the world is not dualistic. Although the student is at first
aggravated, frustrated and overwhelmed by the rejection of dualistic
thinking, the student slowly learns to adapt to the recommendation of
Despite being warned that college would be a major reality check, I
assumed that I would be able to succeed in college like I did in high
school. I figured that I would be able to maintain good grades in
college without a struggle. However, after experiencing my first year
at the University of Southern California, I have realized that receiving
a higher education is a serious and difficult task. An education is not
something that a person can find in a book, or order in a catalogue.
In order to receive a higher education it is necessary that one apply
what he/she has learned in their classes to the real world. This
application of knowledge will facilitate in comprehension of the
real world, and the social problems that ensconce the world. I have
come to the conclusion that students must motivate themselves to learn
and to mature.
Moreover, college does not guarantee a higher education because it is
the student's responsibility to develop into a critical thinker.
Professors provide the tools to think critically, but it is the student
who teaches him/herself how to use these tools. After the student
explores the tools that the teacher presents, he/she begins to identify
him/herself as a scholar, or as an immature student. The scholars begin
to develop relative thinking perspectives, and examine how things work
in society. These students do not condemn the critical challenges that
the professors present to them. Instead, these students find it enjoyable
to discover how each part of the system fits together in order to make the
whole. Thus, college does not only offer the opportunity to attain a
higher education, but college provides students with the opportunity to
discover who they are, what they represent, and what their goals are.
Similarly, college provides the opportunity for an individual to become
committed to a certain subject, and achieve a higher education. College
cannot force students to take an active involvement in their educations.
However, college explores diverse subjects and allows students the
opportunity to develop an intimate relationship with what they are
learning. For example, a student who is aroused by the contrasting views
about the cause of alcoholism may become completely devoted to the topic
and begin to involve himself or herself completely within the subject.
The student may begin to research the subject, read books and develop
their own ideas about the subject, without being told to do so. An
individual with an active commitment to the growth and development of
his/her knowledge has achieved the highest of educations. This individual
is prepared to change the world, and offer diverse views about life.
In essence, a higher education is achieved when an individual willingly
maneuvers through the different stages of knowledge. In order for students
to receive a higher education it is necessary that they learn to think
critically and not topologically. Although some may consider high school
as providing an adequate education, high school negatively encourages
dualistic thinking. However, college is an institution that successfully
encourages students to think critically and influences them to develop
multiple perspectives on life. I have found my first year of college to
be a valuable experience. Not only have I been challenged to think
critically, but I have begun to develop alternative perspectives on life.
I look forward to receiving a higher education by using the tools provided
by my professors.