As history unfolds itself before our eyes, as it has for every generation before us, I realize more and more that one thing is being proven to the current generation: We must educate ourselves. This has always been important, but I truly believe that now it is vital. No matter what your political views, your religious beliefs, your economic or social background, never has it been more true that knowledge is power. Can’t afford college? Not everyone can, and I gotta tell you that if you haven’t figured this one out yet, they don’t have all the answers either. We all have to forge our own path. We’re all pioneers, no matter how big our physical metropolis.
As mothers this is probably even more important. By educating ourselves, we learn to think on our own, develop opinions, express ourselves and defend our viewpoints. And this in no way should stop once our school days are over. Our kids especially depend on us. Let’s face it, no matter how liberated we women may become, we as mothers are most likely the ones imparting the most knowledge to our kids; and heavens! I’d hate to liberate myself out of such a privilege. (Please don’t misunderstand – I strongly believe fathers cannot be replaced and are more necessary than they get credit for these days. But mothers still tend to spend more one-on-one time with their children than fathers; not an opinion here, just a fact.) So as mothers, we have a responsibility to our kids to make sure we take their education even further than the classroom; that what we impart to them will in turn fuel their desire to learn and explore on their own.
But you can’t afford college? Can’t blame you. It’s expensive! And you’ve got a full time job, right? Or you’re a stay-at-home mom who can’t imagine fitting anything more into the schedule. No matter what your daily schedule–whether 9 to 5 job or stay-at-home home-schooler–it’s hard to imagine fitting college in too.
Since we’re living in the information age, it seems to me that we have such a grand advantage over our mothers and grandmothers if we play our virtual cards right: There’s learning online. And I’m not just talking about online classes such as the herbalism classes I’m taking. There’s actually endless free stuff online if you just take a moment to look for it. No, you won’t get a diploma for it, and perhaps your boss won’t give two twigs if you learned how to dissect a frog from the internet, but you can improve your education just because you hope to improve yourself for yourself – and just because you strive to impart more to your kids.
Here’s what happened and why I deem this particular post a “Follow Me Through Herb School” update. I’m working my way through the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine’s Distance Learning Program, and I really wanted to dig into anatomy a little further. For some odd reason I didn’t so much enjoy studying in school when I was younger, but when let loose on my own, there’s precious little I’d rather do. So I started digging around on some of the major Universities in the country: Berkeley, Harvard, etc. Did you know most of them offer free online learning? FREE??? I hesitate to put that in all caps because you may think I’m trying to sell them, but I assure you I am not. It really is free. “FREE” as in all caps. All one has to do is to start visiting the websites of Universities and colleges around the country, and you’ll find a wealth of free education. These aren’t programs that end in a certificate or a cap and gown, but if you’re looking for self-enrichment it’s out there for the taking.
Take, for instance, Berkeley. I landed on a whole slew of MP3 recordings of their classes. You can even watch them on video, but I’ve opted to put them on my iPod. Just like that, I’ve landed in an actual University anatomy class. And Harvard offers stuff. And Yale. And Oxford. Oxford, THE Oxford! If you have any kids in high school, you may just be able to get them interested in listening to MP3’s from some big fancy pants college. (Or not. They’re tough customers; but perhaps if it’s on their iPod by some magical intervention and no one needs to know they actually listened…)
Yes, I’m enthusiastic, but if there’s one thing I’d love to shout to the world it’s to educate yourself. I can blog all day long, but I have no right to tell you what to think or what to do. Neither can the evening news, the paper, the government; what you think is up to you. What a grand responsibility, and what a privilege to pass that on to our kids! I can’t wait until my son is old enough to get him more excited about learning. Heck, we’ve already started. He watches old episodes of Cosmos. He may be 3 1/2, but he knows who Carl Sagan is. What’s a galaxy? He has his own interpretation, but we’re confident it’ll click someday soon. And when he hits us with questions like “What’s this star stuff Sagan kept blabbing about?” and “Where’s my pancreas?” perhaps we’ll have some answers, thanks to a little effort and some online learning.