My efforts pale next to Helen Keller who learned to read despite blindness or Abraham Lincoln who walked twenty miles to get a book or Booker T Washington who considered education so important he made a decision to learn despite all obstacles including being born a slave in poverty. 1
Thomas Jefferson believed education was paramount to freedom, self-reliance, and responsibility. He believed education established knowledge and the qualities required to shape a self-governing citizen. He was a leader in education reform, establishing free schools for children to learn reading, writing and arithmetic, so they would grow into an adult having skills to make educated decisions.2
As a “mature student” in college I was amazed at the apathy many of my younger peers displayed. Many weren’t at all interested in being in class, chose not to do any homework or participate in any of the discussions. It made me angry when students were less than honest when a professor would ask why they missed class or were unable to turn in an assignment. And, I found myself really upset when working as a group, 75% of the group did only as much as necessary to get by, contributing little or no preparation for an oral presentation. I admit, I couldn’t understand it!
These young people were energized about everything except college! Why were they there? I understand, in our late teens it’s likely we don’t have a clue what we plan to do with the rest of our lives. We’ve just finished high school and the last thing we really want is to sit in a classroom again. Yet, what an opportunity!
As the mature student, I did have an advantage. I knew what I wanted and it was important to me to get the education to enable me to do it. I was willing to read the assignments and do the work, study for tests and be a willing participant in class, first because I honestly enjoyed it, and I wanted to learn, despite the obstacles I faced!
We all face some kind of road block. The path is rarely easy. Helen Keller faced blindness; Booker T. Washington, slavery; Thomas Jefferson, politics; I faced dealing with marriage, a home, children and grand children and the fact it had been 30 years since I’d been in a classroom. I had a lot to catch up on! But I was driven! I wanted so much to fill my mind with information that would enable me to become self-confident, independent, competent to make my own decisions, qualify me to join the work place should I desire to do so, and empower me with the tools I needed to fulfill my dreams.
So I challenge you to pick up reading material that will strengthen the mind and character. Place aside, even if only for a few moments that “junk” book, video game, or TV show you wanted to see. Find something inspirational or educational that will “feed” your mind! You might be surprised, and find it totally interesting!