I want to be verse in understanding and interpreting the sociopolitical goals, events, and policies of the United States. I want to be able to use critical reasoning and traditional logic to comprehend the logic behind my thoughts and the thoughts and ideas of other people, writers, and groups. I want to be adept in detecting arguments and determining validity and soundness/cogency. I want to develop non-fiction writing skills similar to op-ed journalism and books on social commentary. This all stems from an unrelenting curiosity about the traditional education system.
Oracy and rhetoric. I want to develop public speaking skills, better grammar usage, and learn Spanish. I want to learn Spanish because although my father speaks Spanish, I never learned it. Also, coming from Southern California, and realizing just how mixed it is, encourages me to learn the language. I want to be able to get before a group and convey ideas and express myself with relative ease and capability.
I want to become numerate. I have never received an F grade in any class. The only time I did not pass a class was in my second semester of Algebra II, in which I received a D grade. I passed the high school exit exam and was always promoted to the next grade with A’s and B’s in most classes, yet my true numeracy has not passed beyond arithmetic. I cannot perform quick mental math, and have had a history of making “careless mistakes” on problems and tests because I was unable comprehend how to perform a calculation. I did not understand algebraic symbols and how they came together to become equations. I need remediation in arithmetic. And I would also like to learn elementary statistics and how to interpret statistical data as it relates to claims made in sociopolitical studies and information in the media. I know that remediation will be successful with memorization of multiplication, subtraction, and addition tables, followed up with problem sets for concepts such as working with decimals. I want to be numerate because I want to understand personal finance and statistical claims in the media and books I encounter.
Sleep, exercise, and nutrition. I would like to bring these up to the highest level I can in my personal life.
Autonomy. I read Dan Pink’s “Drive,” in the second semester of my first year in college. I think Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose, sums up everything I want to get out of continuing my learning outside of school.
These goals do not translate into a career, although they translate into life skills. At the moment I do not have a career path in mind. The problem is that my reading comprehension and linguistic ability have masked many skills I lack. If I do not correct my progress in other areas, I am concerned that I will “get through” college the way I “got through” high school. College is based mostly on reading and writing. I really do not want to risk having low ability in numeracy and oracy by continuing to skate by on my literacy.
What will an educational program look like if I took these goals seriously? It mostly resembles an “adult education program” or a general education degree from a community college. I am not sure how to feel about that, because of the stigma attached to those types of learning programs.
The education I am actually receiving is different. I am an undergraduate, majoring in art in a self design program that allows me to skip distribution courses, and no longer want to major in art because it is not my main interest now. This academic program is actually just what I need, because it provides a diverse education and allows me to grow by creating my own academic opportunities. The problem is that I just can’t afford this. I actually like the college program I am in, but worrying about debt really holds me back – what if I am doing the “wrong” studies? There is no return in opportunity cost for a self designed degree, not in today’s “global economy.” I have been eying Zero Tuition College because a free mentorship/apprenticeship program along with independent study is exactly what I am looking for. I am applying for an apprenticeship with the Albany free school to see if I can get that chance. In college, few teachers have the time to offer intense one-on-one guidance, not because they don’t care, but because the culture of college thrives on overcommitment and overextension. Everyone has multiple classes, clubs, committees and projects under their belts. I want intimate help in discovering my potential and becoming proficient in basic skills.
It is also important to note that I am in college because I don’t want to make people angry or let people down. My mom would never talk to me again if I left school. My grandma, who’s health is steadily deteriorating, said that she is only living to see me graduate from college. I am excited to be in a more liberating learning environment, but more than anything, fear of shame and failure are the emotions that drive me to keep attending school. That just isn’t healthy.