Opportunities to learn are everywhere

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” This quote, attributed to Mark Twain, speaks volumes about the many opportunities we have to learn.

Before you question why I, as an educator, would share such a quote, let me clarify. I come from a household of educators in the very traditional sense — both of my parents taught at the elementary and high school levels for many years; my sister is a teacher and my brother-in-law taught for many years before making the move to administration.

In the non-traditional sense, every outing with my parents was an opportunity for education — we helped clean fish and learned biology; we sat on the roof and learned about the solar system; we took camping trips where we learned about geography, geology, history and how to get along with one another (extremely important as there were six of us in the station wagon!).

My husband and I made the decision while our children were small to intentionally expose them to other people, places and cultures. At 26, our son has seen 26 states and 12 countries; our daughter at 23 has seen 29 states and 4 countries. More important than the numbers are the opportunities to explore other cultures and ways of life. They are always learning about someone new, something new, or someplace new. It provides a sense of security about where they are from while opening their eyes to alternate ways of doing things.

Both kids attended cattle sales and cattle shows from the time they were 8 or 9, which meant missing school. This occasionally caused consternation from their teachers but they were good students and we requested their homework well in advance (and they could usually complete their homework in about an hour each day). They learned to look someone in the eye while shaking hands, to speak clearly when addressed, how to order for themselves and behave appropriately at nice restaurants, how to read a map and an airport board, and how to ask for help when needed.

My granddad, on the other hand, had an 8th grade education. He was one of the smartest people I have ever known. He was well-read, interested in the world, and loved to travel to see new places and things. His ability to work on equipment was incredible. This quiet farmer didn’t have a lot of formal education but was well “schooled” by life and took advantage of learning opportunities at every turn.

To say that I believe in education is an understatement. However, there are many avenues of obtaining that education. 4-H Youth Development helps young people explore a multitude of opportunities — some will remain hobbies, some will be a pathway to a job or career. Many of our 4-H members will pursue a path at a university while others will train at a technical or trade school and others will obtain a certificate for any number of job opportunities. Each is an important path and depends entirely on the focus and goals of the student. There is an old adage that says “you get out what you put in” ... In other words, it matters less which avenue you pursue as long as you work hard at learning all you can when provided an opportunity.

Michelle Beran is the 4-H and Youth Development Agent in the Midway Extension District. For more information on this article or other 4-H and Youth Development related questions, email Michelle at mberan@ksu.edu or call a Midway Extension District office at (785) 483-3157 or (785) 472-4442.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet
Breaking News: