the importance of an education

“So what do you want to do with an English/German major? Teach?”

The reason I study English and German is not so I can turn around and teach them once I graduate; I haven’t done much professionally with them yet. Seems a little premature, doesn’t it?

“I love writing: that’s why I’m studying English. I love German: that’s why I’m studying German.”

I know I will eventually end up teaching – I can feel it. It makes sense. I have enjoyed every taste of teaching I’ve ever had – tutoring math, leading a section of the marching band, editing friends’ essays for class – almost as much as I enjoy learning and creating. And if it all works out – if I learn and create things I’m proud of – isn’t it only natural to want to share that experience and knowledge?

“I’m letting my internships and work experience direct where my career goes.”

I want to be a student for as long as I can, though, and procuring a degree doesn’t signal the end of my education. Even if I end up teaching eventually, I won’t stop being a student; there will always be things I don’t know or things I’m not good at: things I can learn from. I don’t plan on being – or desire to be – the top of whatever field I enter as soon I leave my current field – being a student.

The boundaries are blurred. In fact, they are only visible once one passes them and reflects: how is one to know exactly when she’s become an expert in something? Don’t most geniuses only gain that title after they die? In that case, I don’t have to think about myself and my career in a clear-cut fashion at all! Whoever followed me and my work will do that for me after I’m gone.

My point is not to go dying so that life makes more sense. My point is this: it’s really too early to be questioning this stuff. There’s no pressure to define a career before I can fully know what that looks like for me. The fullest picture of one’s career comes only when it ends – and that is not for quite a bit of time. Now, for me, is the time to get an education that speaks to me. If I learn things that I feel passionate about, won’t I be more inclined to use them as much as possible in normal life, i.e. make a career out of them?

Whether I teach now or later doesn’t matter much – as long as I learn and do things I find important right now. To me, that’s English and German, and I trust that learning those important things now will help me do important things in the future.

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