I was listening to a podcast by Sarah Werner about the things that we weren’t taught in school, things like how to do our taxes, or the importance of and differences in healthcare. Many every day things that were missed to teach us what we needed to know to get through standardized testing.
It reminded me of a cartoon I have seen popping up for several years, something along the lines of a fish will think it is stupid if you judge it on how well it can ride a bike or climb a tree. Meaning that because you are not good at one thing does not mean you are stupid, it means your skill lies elsewhere. A friend of mine’s son is exceptionally skilled at math and woodworking, his attention to detail is incredible, he already knows what he wants, and is actively working towards his career. But, grammar and words are not something he enjoys. I am the opposite, I love words, I love writing and reading and anything to do with crafting a sentence or thought. But, give me math and I am reaching for my calculator (which, math teachers of my past, I do carry around in my pocket.)
For a well-rounded society we need people who excel at different things: the cabinet makers, the story tellers, the mechanics, and apothecaries. No one can do it all. Throughout school, though, we are all tested in the same manner, taught the same way, and given the same basics to function in society and understand our history (or the snippet of history that is in the textbooks). Beyond this we are given the skills to find more information?the skills to find our niche.
Schools, from elementaries to high-schools, trades schools to universities, give us the skills to find that one thing in life that we want more than anything else. The thing that we are good at. These educational institutes cannot give us all the answers. But, they can give us the confidence to strive on our own and learn the skills we desire ourselves. To find places where we can educate ourselves on the topics that mean the most to us. Be them trade-schools or creative writing retreats.
University gave me the skill to think critically and the confidence in my ability to do so. It gave me the skills to research an industry and find reputable websites. It taught me how to understand when something may be slander and when something could be fact. I was not taught how to find reputable agencies or what the warning signs were. But I was given the skills to figure it out for myself.
So, while you shouldn’t judge a fish on its ability to ride a bike, or climb a tree, it shouldn’t be discounted and never given the opportunity to see if perhaps that was what it was meant for. Education gives us skills to find our own path. That path may lead to academics, or it may lead far away from that world. No choice is better than the other as a whole, but, for the individual, there certainly is.
Deanna Roney is an AU graduate who loves adventure in life and literature.