Education is the cornerstone of society. I’ve spent my entire life hearing those words from my father, teachers and instructors. And to a degree, they were correct. One can’t expect to get through life without learning something. The method and means behind HOW we obtain that education has changed throughout the years. For example, my grandfather never obtained a school education. He went on to fight in the Second World War and came home to make a living by working at the local paper mill and supported a full family with seven children. Not too shabby, for someone without a high school diploma.
Even my mother dropped out of school somewhere around the tenth grade and tentatively entered seminary school, dropped out and went on to work as a manager for a major retailer. Try to pull that shit off, now! I can almost promise you that trying to get through life without a minimum high school diploma is difficult at best. Not impossible, mind you but difficult. I remember some twenty years ago when I applied for a janitorial job in southern New Brunswick. I remember wondering WHY they required the applicants to hold a high school diploma for that particular position. But such is the state of the western world; education is valued as much as experience, even though you’d better have some of the latter as well.
In 1996, I enlisted in a local college with the intentions of studying computer programming. For those of you who weren’t around back then, it was a glorious world of Windows ’95, Visual Basic and Pascal… Duke Nukem 3D and Doom was our game of choice and I thought computers were all the rage. When I graduated high school, I wanted nothing more than to take a year off and work, raise some money and potentially buy a better car and determine what direction I wanted my life to take. My parents weren’t a big fan of this concept and effectively told me to enroll somewhere or move out. The former would basically cause the latter so I figured I should look into an education.
I had been working since I was 11 years old and had some money saved up but I also signed up for some student loans in order to pay tuition, buy books and pay rent. I started college with a lot of brave ideas in my head and many expectations for the future. I faced two problems; I was burned out from over a decade of schooling where I had been bullied an harassed for years AND I chose to take college in French. Although I’m fully bilingual, computer terminology that’s an inch long on paper in English is usually twice as long in French, causing major issues in my ability to comprehend what I had been studying.
I passed that first year in college having failed only one class but it was that one credit that would go on to determine the course of my life in a dramatic way. I returned home and started working while trying to take that one class, which I was failing for the second time. By the time that I had recognized that my current path wasn’t for me, I had started to climb into a management role at my job and decided to pursue education on a private level. The next few years saw me work a variety of jobs where I almost always reached management or supervisoral levels until I eventually enlisted in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and spent the next decade and a half serving the public.
Why am I telling you all this? The reason is quite simple. Many people believe the only path to a good, decent life is through education. And while it’s quite true that a good education can help one in life, the almighty piece of paper associated to it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. A sheet of paper is worth between a penny to ten cents. That’s all that piece of paper is worth. It’s the knowledge, time and experience one gains from that education that holds the true value. Some people love taking courses and learning things and that’s fantastic. But eventually you need to focus on the experience and life lessons over the piece of paper. Food for thought… ☯️