Wednesday, June 08, 2005

MORE School??

That's kind of the response I get when I tell people I"m about to start school to be a pastry chef. What they seem to be saying is something like, "Aren't you avoiding having, you know, a Real Life, by going to school all the damned time?" Let's see just how many ways this annoys me (and maybe provide some food for thought for portia, who is apparently trying to decide whether to go back to school).

First, the assumption that having a real life and going to school are mutually exclusive. I got this a lot more when I was in graduate school--there was an assumption that I lived in an ivory tower, that I was unconcerned with the Real World and insulated from it (ignoring the fact that I switched disciplines in part because I wanted to consider the real world). I pointed out that I had to pay real money for my groceries, and my rent--I was acquiring real debt, and working at jobs where I got real (if small) paychecks, so I did not see how I was "insulated" from the so-called real world. (In fact, I was paying to be in graduate school. If you look at my Social Security statement--the one that shows how much you've made each year, and calculates how much Social Security you'll get when you retire--you'll notice that my income did not go over $20,000/year until 1994, and was under $15,000 (or under $10,000) for significant chunks of the years between 1976 (high school graduation) and 1994. During the years when many people are gradually growing their incomes, mine was shrinking, plus I was acquiring significant debt.)

Second, there's an assumption that, once one finishes school, one knows everything one will need to know. Buried there is the assumption that one will actually be able to make a living using the schooling through which one has gone. That didn't turn out to be the case for me, and I am surely not the only person who (a) got a lot of schooling (b) that wasn't useful in getting a job (or (c) couldn't get the job toward which the schooling was directed).

Related to that is the assumption that one just stops learning, or that any subsequent learning can be picked up on the fly. Tell that to unemployed people, especially those who worked in an industrial setting and whose jobs went to another country. Unless there's another BigThing Manufacturing Plant in the same town--which is pretty unusual--that person is going to be lucky to find any job at all, much less one that utilizes what they know and that pays what the old job paid. But our president thinks that it's great that jobs are moving overseas, so maybe I'm missing something here.

Really, though, do we really want to stop learning? I realize that I am perhaps learning "more," somehow, than many people would regard as necessary, strictly speaking, but I don't know that it's really possible to learn too much.

This was longer and much more rantastic, and, I decided, boring. I hope it's now less of all of those things.

2 Comments:

Blogger landismom said...

Boring? never.

I think you're right that we can never have enough education. That's why those of us who are professionals have things like Continuing Education Credits--and why big companies send their staff to annual meetings, with workshops and the like.

It's brave to go back to school, and it involves risks, and most people don't like risks (or bravery, I've noticed).

1:28 PM  
Blogger Melinda Casino said...

I enjoy this post with its revisions and additions (no way is it boring!), but I seem to recall a pretty good para in the original about being frightened to death, unsure, but still going ahead with your plans. (I think it was towards the end.) I miss that para, I thought it was a pretty good peek into your emotional world. And how being responsible for your own life doesn't always feel certain or good.

Anyways, nice post either way. :)

9:07 PM  

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