Student Snippets A Window Into The Daily Life & Thoughts of SLIS Students

My last blog post: Thoughts on education

This one’s going to be a bit weird, but you know, so am I. So it’s fitting.

There’s some mixed info out there, but most agree that the word education comes from the Latin words educare, meaning to bring up and educere, meaning to bring forth. Others say that that Latin educare means to bring out, lead forth. So I think it’s safe to say that education, etymologically, is about expansion and growth. Not the colonial concept of expansion and exploration- that of imposing your culture on others, but the expansion of our minds and therefore our very selves, whatever makes us a self.

I was at Amherst Explorations, an event that celebrates Amherst College student successes of the academic year, when one bright student presenter brought up this etymology and the idea of education as bringing out, leading forth; that concept of shifting & expanding the self. I call him bright not only for the obvious usual meaning adjectively: that he is quite smart; but for another reasons as well.  The Amherst College motto is Terras Irradient, “let them enlighten the lands,” and this student did shine light on the concept of education for me. Bright indeed.

It was a total epiphany moment for me really, not a new idea epiphany- but one of those wonderful times when a network of ideas you’ve long had finally fit a bit better together thanks to one new piece of the puzzle. I like librarianship and I chose to move from nursing to this career for many reasons, not one easy to define reason- just as I noted in my first blog post for Student Snippets. But I will say that education in general is a big one of those reasons. It’s why I’m working in an academic library right now as well, though certainly education comes from the resources and opportunities that public libraries and special libraries afford as well. Education has had such a big impact on my life. I know learning is a process that we are all undergoing throughout our lives, and that process doesn’t require the big e Education in system form, necessarily. But it’s the big e Education that I am talking about now. I am a school person. I’m not saying that’s more valuable than not being a school person, I’m just explaining me. I like school. I like Education. It has almost always helped me; it has been my way out. I’m not going to say it’s been my way up, because again that implies some value to the directions I’ve taken due to Education. But it has been my way out, and I have wanted out. Out was for me. Out is for me. It doesn’t mean that staying In is bad, it’s just that Out is for me. I was very lucky where and how I grew up, but I always wanted to explore. I dreamed of just walking and not stopping from the time I was very young, of seeing other places, of learning other things. And it has been Education that has gotten me where I want to go, or at least it has gotten me going even if I have no desire for a destination, but just for the going. I mean, walking got me going too- especially when we’re talking about my thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail.

But it was doing well in high school that got me Out of my town and into college where I learned so much. Not just about pharmacology (remember I was studying to be a nurse in undergrad), but I learned more about the world. I learned about other perspectives. My world expanded SO much. I was really into anthropology my first year, and my friend always made fun of me because he said I threw out “you know, in some cultures..” in almost every conversation. It was a really wonderful, expansive time. Again, I’m not saying you can’t get that type of experience outside of college, outside of Education, but that’s a big thing that did it for me.  I learned new ways of thinking and new ways of being. I learned of all the Out out there. Because of college I got a stellar job as a nurse too, traveling around the country and working with all sorts of people as patients and colleagues. I was challenged. I grew. I met people I will never forget. Some patients in particular let me into their world and thus again Out of my own.  

Fast forward 9 or so years and there I was again, back in Education, Out of nursing, Out of any comfort zone. Librarianship is a more radical field than I think most would imagine, and though the practices I have learned in this degree will be incredibly useful, it is the theories and overarching, holistic, expanding concepts I’ve learned from this program that will have greater effect long-term on me. I know a lot of folks don’t like that about grad school. They want practical skills, not so much theory talk. But I’m all about the theory talk, because if I can understand the why of something I can better apply the how, no matter how much the how changes over time. And you’d be surprised how much the theory of how to organize information can affect your worldview, I kid you not. Because in the end everything relates to everything else, right? My world keeps expanding and I keep getting Out and it’s only by getting Out of our world that we can look back and see it as one whole planet with boundaries that make it what it is and yet are meaningless. Anyway, here’s to you Education. Maybe you’re not the way Out for everybody, and maybe everybody doesn’t want to be Out. But you sure as heck worked Out well for me.

And most importantly, thank you to my family and friends who supported me and gave me this crazy confidence that everything is going to work out and everything is possible and I can go back and Out and wherever I want to. I did what I did and I go where I go because y’all never made me think I couldn’t. I just expected to have the chance for happiness because of you, and then I did.

And so long, SLIS West. Thanks for all the fish.    


PS: One final Terry Pratchett quote/s, this time from Going Postal:

Vetinari: “No sane mortal is truly free, because true freedom is so terrible that only the mad or the divine can face it with open eyes. It overwhelms the soul…What position would you take here, Drumknott?”

Drumknott: “I’ve always thought, my lord, that what the world really needs are filing boxes which are not so flimsy.”

You  said Drumknott, you said it.