My Daughter still asks me to look over her papers before she turns them in. The problem is, my kid is so much more intelligent than I am that I really don’t understand all the things she is writing…
Which is a good thing. It means that she is learning and being educated.
But what I notice about her education trajectory is how, when you have been fortunate enough to have had exceptional teachers for your career, seamlessly the lessons integrate and build upon one another.
First you concentrate on reading, then math, then writing, then research. The research part of my daughter’s academic career has been long. She began doing research papers in fourth grade. She was taught how to find reputable sources (Just Say No to Wikipedia) and how to annotate them. This process of research and use quotes to bolster your argument has been a close friend for at least ten years.
But now, as a Junior taking higher level classes, when I read her papers I see the shift. Her Professors now want her to use less quotes and data to bolster arguments. They most definitely want research, but they want to see the conclusions that she’s drawn from reading multiple sources. They want to see what she has personally deduced from all the data. They want to see her unique perspective to something. They want her to come up with ideas that no one else has come up with. They want her thoughts to be personally, and in some cases universally, groundbreaking.
They are now preparing her to write her thesis next year.
They want her to take everything she’s ever learned, and go one step further.
They want her to take everything she’s learned and apply it to something she can call her own.
They’re teaching her to be an independent thinker.
So when someone wonders why they have to learn X or Y in school, because they are never going to use it in their life, remind them that all these steps are for a purpose of helping you learn how to think. Because if you don’t learn how to think for yourself, you will be lost. If you don’t learn to think for yourself you will constantly be looking for others to lead you. And while sometimes you need a leader, you always need to understand what’s going on around you and come to your own conclusion. Being a sheep is not necessarily the best life goal.
Don’t be a sheep.
Learn and grow.
Think for yourself.
Thank your teachers.