I’ve taken twenty college courses in the past three years. Like most college students, I’ve forgotten the majority of the material I “learned” during these courses . . . and what good is a forgotten education?
Google’s first definition of education is “the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university.” Ouch—that sounds like something I’d want to forget. Google’s second definition is “an enlightening experience.”
Enlightening experiences are memorable. Sometimes they occur in a college classroom, but rarely when the student feels as if he or she is being force-fed information that is key to passing a test and nothing more.
The few classes I’ve had that were truly and consistently memorable had enlightening experiences at every turn. They made me feel as if I was discovering the material on my own. These classes involved higher concentrations of self-directed learning, in the form of original research or individual exploration.
Though I forget facts and dates and names, I remember the thrill of discovery. Very few classes have influenced my behavior after the final grade is in; those few made me care about the subject more than the grade. Those few successfully transmitted enthusiasm from teacher to student, and fostered a personal interest that will live beyond the classroom.
Have I truly forgotten my education? I prefer to think that I only retain the good stuff.