There are so many things we can be thankful for in our lives. All too often the greed inside pushes us to look at what we don’t have instead of being grateful for what we do have.
I almost didn’t get today’s post up because I was rearranging my office all day. I have a desk job because education has been a persistent part of my upbringing. It is something that I am grateful for, because it has opened up a world of possibilities that might otherwise be closed.
School has been a part of my life for 16 years, but learning is something that has stuck with me from as early as I can remember. Before kindergarten, my father programmed some sort of rudimentary alphabet game on the old black and white computer to help me learn the letters. There was another learning tool that took a sheet of laminated paper and stood it up. Then you would input the numerical code on the paper into the devices keypad and it would quiz you with blinking lights along the side. I have no idea what it was called, my point is that learning and education start at a young age.
Witnessing first hand how Frugal Boy spends his time learning about the world around him has only reinforced my opinion that it is human nature to expand our knowledge. While he isn’t getting a formal curriculum when he goes to the babysitter’s during the day (something that is very important to some parents) he is learning something that I think is much more important in the grand scheme of life, and that is social skills. He must learn how to interact with his peers. He has to learn names, cope with being pushed around, and recognize when he is the one doing the pushing.
Social education in adults often takes on the synonym of manners and etiquette. I am thankful that the first job that I worked at was in catering. I learned through that job proper formal dining etiquette. It also exposed me to my first taste of customer service, something that is a critical part of my job now.
Education is such an overlooked value in America. Almost every school aged child knows how to read and write. Those two seemingly simple building blocks are so incredibly valuable. In college I was fortunate to be able to spend a week in Taiwan. The immersion shock of a totally different language, a language that couldn’t even be sounded out by a latin-based American, was an eye opener. For the first time in my life, I understood what it was like to be illiterate. If the restaurant menu didn’t have pictures, I could only make guesses at what it was that I was ordering. Is that the drink menu or the appetizers. Our guides, local college students, ordered us fried pig ears once. They thought it was a hoot. I thought they were crunchy.
Ridiculous. That is the word that I would pick if I had to describe how accessible education is nowadays. Ridiculously easy. Thanks to the internet, you can sit in on Stanford lectures for free. You can learn how to write computer programs with Khan Academy (free). You can learn another language with DuoLingo (free and I am currently on day 74). Just about any DIY project, from car repairs to crafting, has an instructional how-to video on Youtube (free). There are more public libraries than McDonalds in the United States. Each library has a wealth of free or cheap material to browse.
Whether you are sitting in a classroom and paying tuition or continuing on your education in a less formal setting, learning never really leaves us. I am thankful for that. Education has paved the way for so many advances in humanity from diminished ‘us vs them’ attitudes to building a space station with an international crew.
I would thank my parents for fostering a love of learning in me, but I do not think that is what they did. Humans naturally love to learn. They simply didn’t crush it. So thank you mom and dad for letting me ask questions and explore the world around me.
What education or learning experience are you thankful for?