Somehow, this very, very long summer is coming to its conclusion. I have three weeks left before I start year two, and when I thought I would be more confident in the things I want to do after college, I am not.
Over the two quarters I did get a chance to be a normal college student, I felt like I got more confident and more reassured in my vision for a more just world. I thought I was doing the studying and reading necessary in the classroom that would directly translate into how I would work for the rest of my life. I matured and developed my societal awareness, all ultimately with the conception that it would be my physical schooling that would give me the solutions or at least a clearer direction on finding my place in the world.
But since lockdown, since the end of May, I am not just skeptical of my initial beliefs about school, but I feel assured enough to say that the very education I see helping inform my future ambitions may never exist in physical schooling (and that is OKAY!!!).
Over the past four months or so, I have learned without deadlines, without grades, and all the time to talk through my ideas with friends. I read books to seek out the context for questions I had always had my whole life but didn’t know could ever be answered. I’ve watched lectures, listened to podcasts, and read articles all summer just trying to gauge some sort of reassurance in understanding why I believe in the things that I do. I’ve written about such conclusions here and in other publications. I’ve changed my ideas, flipped them on their heads, reversed them, threw them into the trash, and then grabbed them again. It’s this process that has enabled there to be a transformation in how I view education, what education ultimately should be: never a means to an end.
The skill I learned that has been instrumental to my own personal growth has been how to learn for myself. I’m taking the time to develop new visions for the world that are independent of whatever anyone else may expect or ask of me. I want to be more informed about other revolutions across the globe, about racial capitalism because I want to see a better world. That sort of enthusiasm to want to learn more, no matter my mood or what else is going on in the world, is something I only further hope to foster.
The personal education journey that I know will just be a natural part of the rest of my life now just needs to translate and continue while classes pick back up. I don’t know what sort of balance or strategy there really is to continue this personal learning project. Is it trying to set reading goals? Is it to set a couple of hours a week just to learning something new several times throughout the week? Is it just playing it by ear and making headways whenever I have the time to pick up a new strategy or new subject? But I think what is the most reassuring part about these next few months is that irrespective of how demanding classes will be, I am just excited to bring all of the knowledge I’ve gained this summer into whatever it is I’m doing this year in school. That will be interesting for sure.
Being Noah Tesfaye #147: Learning Outside the Classroom
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