Education: Learning about the world to make it better

Education: Learning about the world to make it better

My introduction to education was rough. We were living in a suburb of Dublin when I attended first grade while my father wrote a novel and taught at University College Dublin. I went to school with my older sisters, excited to be wearing a uniform and happy to be back in a place I associated with praise and laughter. But that happiness soon turned into dread and downright terror as my elderly teacher administered corporal punishment as an incentive to learn to read. Each time I identified myself as a non-reader, the yardsticks came down on my knuckles. However, I did learn to read, nearly overnight, and I never looked back.

Learning how to read taught me about the world outside of my home outside of Princeton in New Jersey. I came of age in the 60s. Too young to be part of the love generation but old enough to witness riots and demonstrations, multiple assassinations, the Vietnam War, women and minorities demanding equal rights. I was given a collection of short stories written by Richard Wright depicting lynchings, rapes and acts of horrendous racial discrimination. I learned about things going on in America that hitherto I had no idea of. I declared myself a fighter for civil rights, a day later Martin Luther King was gunned down in Memphis. As I watched my mother work, cook, clean and take care of our immediate needs I read "The Second Sex" and found myself questioning my parent's domestic arrangement. Reading taught me about the bravery of the resistance workers in Germany, the brutality of Nazis and the suffering of the poor that I would never have understood without books.

And I became a writer. I wrote about my teenage anxieties, poems about love and loneliness and feeling lost in a world that appeared violent and intolerant. I had an English teacher who told me I had talent, a number of patient and brilliant professors who introduced me to history, Shakespeare and Marxist theories. Becoming educated meant I had numerous choices, a multitude of things to consider as part of my life. In Art History we sat in the dark and looked at stunningly beautiful works of art while my professor gave us the history of the artist, the era, and the world that art had been born into. I began to understand how things are intertwined and reflective, how literature is often written as a form of protest but also to record beauty and love, my favorite topics.

I became a teacher because of the generosity, the miracle of my education. I became a writer because of the encouragement and insight of my teachers. I remain a student because it is a gift to be allowed to learn.

This blog post is part of the Vittana "Make a Difference" blogger challenge. The contest invites bloggers from around the world to discuss various ways to make a difference in the world, as well as share stories on who or what has made a difference in their lives.

The winning blog post will be the post that drives the most loans to students in need. Please support this cause (and this blog!) by making a loan in my name: “Molly Moynahan.” Be sure to type that in when you reach the checkout page (example screenshot) The more loans you make the more educations get funded and the more recognition and traffic my site gets!

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