Taking Control of Your Education

 

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During my two years spent de-schooling and home-schooling, I was utterly against going off to university. I vowed to myself that never again would an institution control my education and decide what and how I should learn.

I eventually came to realise however that going to university would be my own choice, a choice that would mean that I would be doing exactly what I wanted to do: taking my education into my own hands. I could use university to my own advantage, as a tool that would help me to carve out my own knowledge of a subject that really interested me.

I am so glad I made that choice.

I have just finished my first year at the University of Bath, studying Modern Languages and European Studies (French and Italian, to be more precise). It’s crazy to think that only 25% of what we learn in a year at university is what has been taught to us by lecturers. In fact, the only thing done in lectures and seminars is note-taking. The rest is self-taught, during personal time outside university which is spent reading, researching and understanding. It’s absolutely true that you won’t get anywhere in university if you don’t put the work in, and for my degree that means a few hours in the day in between lectures and then another few at night.

It is so worth it! I was determined that if I went to university, it wouldn’t be to memorise facts mindlessly and then forget them all after exams. I do memorise, as everybody else does if they want to remember the sheer amount of knowledge demanded of us during exam time, but I make sure I read about the subject, and follow any leads that interest me, so that it all stays in my mind more easily. It’s also very rewarding to be able to think of a period of history or a cultural movement as a story that can be related to, rather than a jumble of dates and titles.

It can be a struggle to juggle your studies, social life, any societies and sports groups you may be part of, hobbies, and anything you else you may be learning about for fun. I always try to do my best to put time aside for reading, writing, and other hobbies, as well as for any interests I have at the time which I would like to explore further.

Because learning is a lifelong experience, not something that ends once you leave school, university or your job. You can learn about anything you want to, be it through books, the internet, classes or work experience. It’s never too late (or too early) to decide that you want to be in charge of what, where and how you learn. No matter who teaches you and how long they teach you for, you won’t learn anything until your interest has been sparked and you decide you want to learn it.

 

“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.”
― Socrates

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”

– Mark Twain

What are your thoughts on life-long learning?

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