I am currently in the process of applying somewhere (where is not important in this context) and in order to get in I had to write an essay. The essay required me to answer a couple of questions in less than 500 words, one of them being What is the role of education in your life?
As I was brainstorming on how to answer this essay, that question lingered, and caused me to create others:
What actually has been the role of education in my life? What sort of education are they referring to?
Should I write about the Pythagorean Theorem? Or the role of mitochondria in a cell? What even is the role of mitochondria in a cell? No scratch that. Maybe I can write about my experience in the different schools I attended? Or the morals I have learned from my teachers?
No. That either.
I was unable to grasp the meaning of “education” without categorizing education into something learned in a school environment. I then realized that my education was not only learning about acute angles or that that H2O is water. These were all just facts and information I memorized in order to earn a “good” grade.
In Mexico, the word education means something different than just where you go to school and what you learn, it can also be used to refer to a person’s manners. If my family members were ever to compliment someone they like, one of the words which would be used to compliment them would be “educado”, or educated, meaning they have “good” manners.
“No hagas eso, es falta de educación!”
This phrase is one that I remember receiving continuously when I was a child, and it will forever remain engraved in my memory. Most likely every Spanish speaker has been told this more than once in their life by any adult when they were growing up. It literally translates to “don’t do that it’s lack of education!” This common sentence is used in order to prevent anyone from exercising unaccepted mannerisms such as speaking with their mouth full of food, placing their elbows on the table or even interrupting adults as they are speaking. I vividly remember receiving this command every time I did something like that.
But who was really to blame for my lack of education? Was it my teachers? My parents? Or myself? If my behavior was caused by a “lack of education” then someone had failed in educating me.
However, the ironically obvious answer to that question is that who was to blame for was my innocence; after all I was only a child! At that time, I did not perceive the action of placing my elbows on the table as a crime. I eventually learned to follow these rules because they were accepted as the norm. Therefore, as years went by, I started to hear this sentence less and less and to this day I will only hear it every once in awhile. Occasionally if I forget to pick up my plate after eating, or if I sit with my leg bent on the chair during dinner my parents will call me out. But overall, I believe I have managed to learn how to present myself as what society describes as an “educated” individual.
I eventually found that the role of education in my life has mostly come from three different sources. The first source is obvious, school. Which taught me things like the quadratic formula. The second, adults, who have taught me manners and how to carry myself. And the third source was the last one I thought about, the hardest one to learn from, but the easiest to remember. My own experiences.
I believe it is hard for most people to stop and reflect on their past experiences and draw a lesson out of them, to then apply it when making future decisions. This process is something that I struggled to discover until just recently, and I am currently attempting to implement it in my life.
One very small but significant example which I am trying to use this strategy on is the way I carry myself. Anyone that knows me well is definitely aware of the fact that I am very clueless most of the time. My “cluelessness” stretches to simple everyday actions such as forgetting where I place certain objects, or while I am doing something I quickly find something else to do and focus on that while leaving the other undone without noticing, or even unconsciously spacing out when people are speaking to me. I have experienced these behaviors (among many others) ever since I was a child. Growing up, every time I acted that way I was excused by others as they said things like “oh it’s okay… it’s Fer” or “I knew you would forget, it’s fine” or ( those of you who know me really well will get this reference) “Gladys”. Eventually I got used to to being this way, I never really tried to change because it had become part of my identity.
However, it was not until I lived in Brazil for eight months, basically by myself, that I realized that I had to “get my sh*t together”. While in Brazil, I was living in a whole new world and nobody knew me yet, so I was not excused for my actions. I noticed that my “cluelessness” stretched much further than forgetting where I placed an object, but it also could affect others, and most of the times in negative ways. Countless numbers of times throughout my life individuals had already told me I needed to “pay more attention”, but that always annoyed me because I did not act clueless on purpose, it was just who I was. I did not realize that I needed to improve myself until I chose to acknowledge this side of me and use it in order to better myself.
So if you are wondering if I wrote all of this in my essay application, the answer is no. First because I do not think I will be able to summarize this rant into less than 500 words. But mostly because this answer does not fit into the rest of the prompt. Anyways, I am really not sure what the point of this blog post is or how to end it, (again if there’s anyone reading these, thank you for not making me invisible) so I will end it with some advice that I have learnt through experience.
If there is ever anything you dislike about yourself, all that it takes to change is accepting and acknowledging that side of you as well as listening to others, in order to become the best version of yourself. Learn to appreciate any form of education; you do not necessarily have to agree with it or preach it afterwards. But, like many people have said “Knowledge IS Power”. And when knowledge comes, wisdom lingers✨