Claim our Education? What you talkin’ bout, Willis?
In common speak: we go to college to “get” an education– yes? And sometimes we “get” our
knickers (don’t cringe: it’s a cliche) brains in a bunch trying to figure out where to do that. This school or that school? OMG this University? Or OMFG THAT University? Butter side up or butter side down?
I don’t know and neither do you. But I spend a lot of time trying to figure out what it means to get an education, and how you know when you’ve gotten one. And one little word– a shift in semantics– could change how we think about all this– and ourselves.
Claim = Call Out
Adrienne Rich, poet, activist and teacher, cautioned in her commencement address, “We are not here to receive an education, we are here to claim one.” I love this. But what’s the difference?
If you’ve read much here, you know I have a long history as a Classics nerd and scholar. So when I look up the etymology to consider WTF Rich means, “Claim” –> from the Latin “clamare” = “to call out.”
So I think about what people do from rooftops on New Years.
The exhilaration and breathlessness and leaning into the next thing, hoping for things to always be getting better.
Education is not a thing.
It is an action; it is something– poor fool– that you do. It’s not something you “get.” It’s not, actually, a product at all.
Even though the consumer can be baited, education is- or should be– beyond capitalism.
You can sit down with a wise person anywhere. You can teach yourself almost anything online, thanks to the Glory of Youtube. You can even teach people how not to get their
knickers brains in a bunch.
Education is a long, mystifying process of ingesting knowledge. Then, a longer process– that keeps happening far far beyond graduation– of turning that knowledge into who you are and how you operate. So it is not just part of your resume, but your raison d’etre (I use French when I need to be taken seriously).
Tall order. And sometimes we feel so small! We just want someone to give us a bunch of achievable math problems and move on.
But, then, was it really worth all the fuss?
Let’s Claim Something Real, Shall We?
The Zen monks can sit with a single Koan for an entire lifetime, but I am no Zen monk. Still, this idea of “claiming” an education– shouting out that that’s what you’re here to do– now this makes college a whole other kind of marvel. It’s not about brand name. It’s about what unfolds there. It’s about how you turn what you’ve learned into what you are.
What are you? What am I? Let’s write about it and see. Contact us to get started claiming what is yours. We use words. You can too.