The books were heavy in my hands as I left the Iowa Central building that stands contiguous with the High School. It was a Friday and I sighed a little wearily as I realized that heavy books just means a heavy load, which only means another busy semester.
Yet, despite the somewhat dreary realization of more school, the awareness that school means studying and being busy, I know that I'm continuing down the path of learning, ultimately enabling me to further define myself as a person.
To those who appreciate it, education is a beautiful thing... beautiful, but also important as well. Since the Academy of Athens, schools have always been the symbol for education. But, as always, it starts in the homes. And, like everything, it should.
One of the most important things I was taught by my parents was the desire to learn. Teachers have since molded that desire, nurtured it and strengthened it, but ultimately just giving me a taste of what is really out there. It is needless to say that my teachers did a pretty good job of it. For they, along with my parents, truly gave me a quality education. And again it is needless to say that they continue to do so.
It must be said that it is not the memorizing of a few dates or reciting a few key terms that defines a quality education. It is thinking critically, thinking from multiple perspectives, and finding wisdom in folly that defines it. Having a quality education is having the knowledge that you don't know everything, yet knowing you know something. It is a realization that you are never too old or smart to learn something from someone else. A quality education, like many things, is a lifelong process. And by this, a quality education doesn't come free, but it is so much worth the effort.
In America, it seems like the want and need for an education is slowly diminishing. It is becoming more of a hassle to give everybody an education, let alone a quality one. For that reason, college is becoming more and more expensive. Technology has made things easier, faster, and cheaper, but the crucial aspect of human interaction is slowly being lost.
So, I am here to say that education IS important. Like that reliable mechanical pencil-sharpener, it sharpens the mind and opens the way. And I am glad for it.
As I leave the school, heading on the road west, I reflect on the journey that led me here: a college student with one semester under my belt and about to embark on another. Sometime in the future, I will engage in the best educational experience of my life. I will leave the classroom and go on a church mission, continuing my opportunity to learn and to grow. I will not be studying thermodynamics or quantum physics, but will be learning how to serve others before myself. It just goes to show that quality education just does not exist within the walls of a building; which makes it all the more meaningful.
* Jacob Olson is an Iowa Central Community College student from Storm Lake. He contributes a weekly column for the Pilot-Tribune