April 27, 2015
It’s nearing the end of April, and that means the beginning of summer.
For some that means complete freedom, for some, more school, for some, a job. It means that the crush of finals becomes very real very quickly, and what little time students did have has evaporated.
It also means that our method of learning, how we continue to make ourselves better, changes. It is no longer in the classroom (unless you are one of those taking summer classes).
That’s OK, because contrary to what many folks believe, a lot of learning takes place outside of the classroom.
Wait, that happens?
Yes, people do learn outside of school. And it’s often more potent, more useful, better information.
The best way to learn is by making the mistakes first. Although this can lead to harsh results, we are bound to remember our lesson more if it becomes a real problem.
The great, yet fundamentally unsound aspect of college is that it is a laboratory. Our mistakes in class (within reason) can be made without much fear of losing our job as a student.
In college, we are encouraged to take chances, try things we wouldn’t dare try at other times in our life. While we are more on our own than we have ever been before, the safety net of our parents and the school support staff is still there.
The impact of our decisions and effort in class results in a letter grade on a digital transcript.
That’s it. The complete, utter fear of failing is never entirely there.
But in the real world, when we learn outside of the classroom, that fear is always present.
As any graduating senior will tell you, the lack of a safety net outside the classroom is scary. But it also serves as the impetus for learning, longer-lived understanding than just until the next test is over.
For the most part, what we learn in class, we learn well enough to remember until the end of the class. For the most part, what we learn outside the classroom are things we take with us for the rest of our lives and affect how we view and participate in the world.
There’s a reason we remember life experiences more than what we learned in a classroom: we have actually used that information since then.
Don’t misunderstand, there’s a place for both academic and real-world learning in our education, and the smart people in the world have both.
It’s just that the smartest people in the world realize that they don’t know everything. They also realize that the learning you need for life doesn’t all come from a classroom or textbook.
The difference between “street smarts” and “book smarts” is often vast, and the only way we can get both is by participating in both.
So take advantage of your opportunities, both inside and outside the classroom, to continue to make yourself better.