More Independent Learning Resources
From the time that I started high school, teachers have expressed severe dislike of the website Wikipedia. Until very recently, I took their side. If you google-search the title of the site, the first link has the following description: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit.
It’s true, anyone can alter the content of the information of any “wiki” page. A friend of mine even created a page of his own as a mock information site about our school. But then I realized something – eventually his mocking phrases were stripped from page – and he wasn’t the one that did so. Although anyone can edit wiki pages, the pages aren’t up for desecration. It’s a non-profit setup with rules and guidelines that must be adhered to. Still, the teachers at my school treat this site as some sort of cop-out tool used by students to get away with not having to do any “real” research. I admit, most of my peers do use it for that reason, but when you look more into Wikipedia, you can see that it still has value and merit beyond the tricks students dig out of it to cope with the monotony and rigidity of traditional schooling.
I found out earlier this school year that students are required to read Shakespeare’s Hamlet for AP English Literature. Why? Because the material and context of it might show up on the AP exam next May. I was upset. I never planned on reading Shakespeare ever in my life, not after seeing all the ridiculous play reenactments school kids were forced to do. Not after hearing about how difficult the Old English was. Not when I felt that it was probably being taught in schools just to “culture” us. But beyond that, the class was starting to get expensive. I wanted to save the constant purchase of novels and critical art supplies for college.
One night my friend and I decided to do some reading on Wikipedia. We usually look up things to confirm information to set up jokes. That’s when I found it. I scrolled to the bottom of the main page, something I hadn’t done before. I came down to a section titled: Wikipedia’s Sister Projects. I then clicked wikibooks and looked up Hamlet out of curiosity. I found it.* All the acts plus the characters. I told my friend about it and said, “Why is she making us pay for this, when we can read it here on our own time?”
*The work was moved to wikisource.
I soon started learning about all the other things Wikipedia provides. The best of them all was wikiversity. I scorn what higher education has been morphed into, but that site is literally a FREE online college, a learning center just waiting to be accessed at any time, free of charge and consumerist red tape. It’s like a big brain of material and information centralized at one point. If you think about all the pages possible in it, and all the users who access it, adding and editing content everyday – it’s a super brain with limitless possibilities. Wonderful. The ironic thing about it all is that Wikipedia encourages teachers to set up accounts and use their websites in their classrooms.
That place has free courses, links, assignments, projects, illustrations and chat portals to ask questions and interact with other learners. It’s a autodidacts dream I tell you. It makes me kind of bitter though, the material and resources just lurking under my nose, things that I could have used as anchors and supports if I had learned long ago that abandoning the traditional school institution was possible. Things like wikiversity, Microsoft office programs, youtube, forums, even libraries and book stores make schools as an institution useless. Why drudge every morning into the bleak little buildings, why lock yourself behind bars when all of these tools and people to share it with are all around you? It doesn’t make sense. It even confirms how little I need to go to college. I don’t think that I should waste thousands of dollars that I don’t have, trying to accomplish something that I could do out of my own home for FREE. Granted I don’t have special resources like lab equipment, but there’s a way around many things.
This Wikipedia thing is serious. It’s AMAZING. It makes me feel comfortable in my desires to explore the world and still have access to free and legitimate education. Lately I’ve been getting involved in helping individuals to create a community center in my town. If I didn’t go to college, I could stay and help. I could be involved once it really takes off, all while still learning the things that I wish to learn. My parents say the only problem with that is that I have to have a job to support myself, which is impossible with so few jobs around to go into. Still there is a way to make it. I know that money was deemed important for survival, but I don’t need to be completely obedient to it. It may seem that without money, life on earth is impossible, but that is INCORRECT. There is a richer life beyond money, or power or lavish up-to-par items and “things.” I’ll do whatever I can to live in THAT world.
Things I have stumbled upon (including wordpress.com):
- Elementary & Advanced mathematics sites
- Page By Page Books
- How Stuff Works
There is much more out there. The internet and computers, as dangerously addictive as they are make school buildings and all that go on inside of them, nothing more than a social custom people can’t let go of. And speaking of addictive, I suppose that as a person develops more of a “life” that there is no need for constant computer usage. I notice that happening with myself.
I really think that those teachers are just fooling themselves, because maybe if they really looked into things, they’d realize just how useless their occupations have become. It is very sad, because such people dedicate their lives to this “craft,” but lately they’ve just become test pushers and custom enforcers, and the system they participate in is holding back students from true education, intellectual diversity, discovery and mental liberation so that they may grow up to be free thinking citizens. It’s really hard to avoid sounding like a conspiracy theorist or whatever, but that’s the way I see things. I want to make it at least a bit better once I’m on my own.