Wednesday, January 06, 2016

I'm Gonna Get Me An Education

As published in The Citizen-Record newspaper on Wednesday January 6, 2016, by Sara Jewell.

The only three textbooks I kept from university. Two are from my major (English).             Note the third one.

After 20 years of hemming and hawing, I finally figured out what I want to go back to school and study.
            Ever since I graduated from university with a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Education, I’ve wondered what Master’s degree I should get. The choices have ranged from Medieval English, Religious Education and Fine Arts (for creative writing).
            In all those years, there was never the tell-tale “ping” from my gut that tells me when I’ve come upon the right answer. Then, two weeks ago as I was blow-drying my hair, I thought, If I could go back to school, I would study psychology. Ping!
Even though Psych 100 in my first year of university instilled in me a keen interest in social psychology, the subject didn’t count as a “teachable” nor did I see myself as a scientist so I focused on English and History.
            But with the passing of time and the gaining of wisdom, my mind finally filtered through 20 years of life and work experience to figure out that a psychology degree was exactly what I wanted.
            When I announced this to my husband, his response was, “What would you use that for?”
            He wasn’t being sarcastic or dismissive; he simply didn’t see how a psychology degree would benefit my work. Yet his response was a light bulb moment for me: If I had announced I wanted to go back to school for a theology degree in order to become an ordained minister, he would have been on board because that education would lead to a job. But going back to school simply to fulfill a missed opportunity 20 years ago didn’t compute with him.
            Amateur psychologist that I am, I was delighted with the dichotomy he presented. For me and the way I was raised, knowledge is an end in itself; the job prospects aren’t a reason for the study. Whereas my husband, raised as a working man, fails to see the point in going to school if you’re not getting a marketable skill out of your investment of time and money.
            Neither of us is wrong.   
            This is the frustration that comes with age and wisdom: We gain it when we’re not really in a position to use it. How can someone return to school when she has a mortgage, car payments, a couple of kids playing sports or taking music lessons, a job, maybe no a partner or family to help out?
            (It’s snowing as I write this. Weather is a factor in rural Nova Scotia.)
Yet there are ways to make it happen. There are countless women who have set their minds on returning to school, on fulfilling a dream to be a nurse, an accountant, a teacher, an artist, who have heard their inner ‘ping’ and faced the struggles to fulfill it.
I admire that kind of woman greatly. She is as fearless as she is afraid. She believes in herself and stays focused on the end result even when her life gets crazy.
If someone wants to return to school, this is the time to start investigating how.  
            It’s worth the risk and the effort. Because education is life-changing, especially when it happens to those whose courage comes from being older and wiser.

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