Written by SRA Student
I was told that for my graduation, I was to write a speech about the importance of education.
Now, seeing as this is a High School graduation, I figured I was supposed to write about “formal” education. Going to school, embracing concepts such as trigonometry and Mesopotamian history, etc. Book smarts, if you will. Or maybe I should tell an inspiring anecdote about a poor child growing up in poverty that followed their dreams of going to school and is now sitting in a big, important chair in the Jamba Juice Headquarters. But frankly, I don’t think that is what education is all about. To me, education isn’t about being taught, it’s about learning.
Learning is not measured by a letter grade or SAT score. Yes, these things are important and you should always strive for excellence in school, but it doesn’t define you as a student. I am a student of the world. I don’t know if I’ll ever use SOHCAHTOA again, but I know what it means. I know that lightning and thunder is actually the same thing. That if you drive behind a big truck on the highway, you’ll get better mileage. How to tune a guitar. How to carve a ball in a cage out of wood. What it ACTUALLY means when Mercury is in retrograde. That you can tell the difference between a star and a planet because planets don’t twinkle.
To me, education’s value is how it opens your mind to the world. How it allows you to find wonder in the little things – The temperature of a lightning bolt is hotter than the surface of the sun. The name “Wendy” didn’t exist until the book Peter Pan. Orca whales traveling in groups breathe in unison. The youngest pope was only eleven years old. As you get older, you slowly stop dreaming at night.
Being at Spring Ridge Academy certainly has been a learning experience. I don’t think anyone who has been here a decent amount of time can say they didn’t learn anything, whether they wanted to or not. And that’s the great thing about people. They are all your teachers. Education is the collective memory of the world. You learn from your school teachers, who learned from their teachers, who learned from their teachers, who learned from their mothers who learned from tribal elders. Even information found on the internet that was passed down through who knows how many minds before someone posted it on Wikipedia. And it’s not just about information; it’s what you learn about the person you are speaking to. I know that just by sitting in groups and hearing other girls’ stories, I’ve learned about the people around me – why they do the things they do, how they conquered impossible odds, how they learned to heal. And probably the most important learning we do here is learning about ourselves. I learned when I give too much or too little in a relationship. That I could actually be best friends with a peppy blonde cheerleader from California. That I’m actually super sensitive (though that wasn’t so much a discovery as a begrudging acceptance), and that my parents are not actually the emotionless dictators I made them out to be.
I guess what I’m trying to say is the value in education is in its ability to change you. To make you more humble, or to recognize your own value. Education isn’t about information. You can sit in class and memorize logarithms all you want. You can know all fifty forms of “to be”, or you can be the world’s greatest astrophysicist, but if you haven’t learned that there’s more to life than we can possible grasp, than you haven’t truly learned anything. See, the great thing about education is it drives you to ask the question, “what DON’T I know?”
Now if there’s anything I want you guys to take with you from this, its three things; the heart is the body’s strongest muscle, that the brain has more cells in it than our galaxy has stars, and that the body is 72% water. So wherever you go over vacation, don’t get too dehydrated.