In a way, ‘stepping stones’ or a ‘ladder’ have furthered this belief for the individual. Much as society has been complicit in selling this increasingly problematic value-proposal to every student, individuals have attached to the idea that accomplishment not only requires letters after a name but also long-winded ‘efforts’ for achieving them. Once they have these ‘credentials’, they may hide behind their believed strength, but they also purport their significance because without them their personal ladder crumbles. A lifelong learning narrative may help break down this erected barrier of defense. This population must be encouraged and included if a shift in thinking/approach will ever occur.
It is challenging to think outside this box in actual experiential ways, but it is possible. Ever since I completed my Masters degree, I began second-guessing it’s significance. I don’t quickly reference it in conversation about what I do or am interested in. That said, it offered some unique opportunities to learn — like working with UNICEF in Kosovo and self-defining a practicum — but these things could have easily been explored in their own light. Doing so would have been a learning process until itself! (Indeed, without mentioning my degree, they offer much more fuel for meaningful conversation with others!!) On the other hand, when the opportunity is handed to you, one doesn’t often sense it’s sincere value, just as sharing who I am/what I am interested in through a degree or title overlooks valuable detail.
Alas, the biggest design question that presents itself is: How do ‘we’ illuminate such open possibility for learning and growth to the masses and for each individual person? Organized, community-based learning still has a role — where does it play out? And when does this shift in narrative begin? High school? Pre-K?
Great writing, Mitchell. I’d love to keep the conversation going!