What I Didn’t Learn At University: A Graduand’s Look Back

It’s that time of transition between studenthood and the rest of our life. As a student teacher halfway through my certification year, I have a foot in two classrooms; one at Trinity, and one in my own classroom (well, I share it) in Langley.

In four years at TWU, one learns a lot. I never knew that literature is so rife with culturally ingrained gender biases. I can still remember the name of the connective bridge between the left and right hemispheres of the brain. I can recount the names and ideas of some major educational theorists. I can even get published in a newspaper. But this year I realised how much I didn’t learn at university.

I never learned how to listen for God’s voice in RELS (but I was taught about the flaws in contemporary bibles, so that put me on pretty good footing for a Christ-centred education). I was sometimes punished and was sometimes rewarded for employing “creative license” in English papers, even though surely creativity fits into the overall schema of language arts.  None of my Education classes taught me what to do when a 7th grade boy is crying in my class. I’m sure you can think of your own unanswered questions.

University exposes your tender and impressionable mind to a tremendous range of new ideas, approaches, techniques and systems. Though you may consciously disagree with some or even many of the ideas you come across, your mind is changing, adapting to the new information it receives, making sense of it in light of the information it already holds. Your mind is undergoing a metamorphosis. If your thoughts were an orchestra they’d be playing a wickedly awful cacophony between your ears – and your mind seeks harmony. Don’t be distressed, because any confusion you feel actually leads to deeper thinking – maybe even to the point of thinking about your own thinking (that’s called metacognition).

But university, let alone education, isn’t a magic bullet to answer every question. What education should do to prepare you for life is teach how to harness the power of the question, which keeps your mind sharp.

By the time 4th year rolls around, unless you have somehow managed to pour concrete into your cranium (there’s a chance that it slipped in with something from the Caf), your opinions, personality, style and the very essence of who you are (worldview, anyone?) have been changed forever. University brings more benefits than the increased ability to bluff your way through almost any topic. Without a doubt, you will have become more open-minded, and whether you like it or not is irrelevant.

We shouldn’t complain when our thinking is challenged because that is one of education’s noblest ends. The active purpose of education is to challenge, whether to challenge you (self-reflection) or challenge an entire society (at Tiananmen Square, Woodstock, or the Montgomery Bus Boycott). Without trying to proselytise, I counsel you honestly to ask God to be sovereign throughout the process, because he is the one who actually knows.

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