Wise Words From My Professor

17 Aug

I recently emailed one of my favorite professors I have had at my own college, Tessa Hicks, to let her know what I was doing during my gap year. Tessa taught a course I was a student of titled “Healing Ourselves and Our Communities,” in which I studied at my college in Los Angeles for the spring semester 2010, and then went abroad with half of my class for the following summer to Mexico, in order to get a comparative local/global view of the topics of personal and community healing. The class was a pivotal experience for me and many of my classmates, and really had me think about and question many things I had believed in the past. It was also a time where I realized that education was the real root of either positive or negative social change, and therefore my interest in pedagogy and learning really began.

In response to my email to her, Tessa gave me very insightful input:

“One thing I will share is this: when I was working with and studying indigenous knowledge/communities in Peru during a break from graduate school I said to one of the elders (whom I was learning so much from and was so inspired by)- ‘why should I even go back to school (I was about to finish my Masters and enter the PhD program) when the “real” knowledge is here with you and there is so much I can learn here?’

I will never forget his reply. He said: ‘Never close the door to knowledge that is opened to you. Sometimes it will be here in the mountains with us, sometimes in the classroom in the US- it is all a gift and has something to offer so do it all if you can. But don’t quit your PhD program- we will always be here and you can always come back and continue to learn with us but you should not close off from whatever learning opportunity that you are given.’ So I went back and got my PhD and never regretted it for a minute because the real learning for me has always come from weaving these different ways of knowing and spending time in both formal and informal educational environments that inspire me. I imagine the same may be true for you and I encourage you to never abandon one path over the other but find ways to follow both and merge them when possible.”

Tessa and the indigenous elder both reinforced a huge realization I have come to. I don’t think formal institutions and systems of learning should be abandoned. In fact, I have gained so much of my drive, passion, and knowledge from the three semesters I have spent at my own college, as well as past schools. What I do think needs to be advocated for are more options, acceptance, and flexibility of alternative paths for higher learning. College should not be the only respected and accredited form of gaining knowledge, and that is why I have set out on this journey to highlight the amazing alternatives that exist and are currently being developed. I also think that reforming and tweaking existing institutions and systems is a whole lot better than starting something entirely alternative from scratch (although there are many new, independent programs that are great as well). 

In fact, my own plan at the moment (since so many people have been asking- “are you going back to school ever?”) is to return to my undergraduate degree and studies this coming spring. My college may not offer everything that I wish to study, but they are for the most part very innovative and forward-thinking, and I hope to further add my ideas and insight into the development of the college. I also feel that this time off has re-awakened my passion for learning, and when I do return to formal classes, I will even more prepared and enthusiastic to learn in such a setting. 

New Eduventurist profile coming soon. As in the next 2-3 days! So check back 🙂 And if you want to check out a cool video that a bunch of guys made while traveling the world, watch this: http://vimeo.com/27246366


2 Responses to “Wise Words From My Professor”

  1. haley August 18, 2011 at 3:33 am #

    love you weezie

  2. Hetty and Panormitis August 18, 2011 at 7:32 am #

    Yes, Weezie seeing the world, tasting other cultures, expands our knowledge. And I do agree that formal education is a part of this world we live in, so following the “two paths” would be a wise thing to do. I found the following quote for you from Robert Green Ingersol l

    “ It is a 1000 x better to have common sense without education than to have education without common sense”

    There is a truth in many ways, I suppose?

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