Monday, July 09, 2007

A Diverse Education

I was with [Identity-Protected] the other night and she was talking about deliberating on what program to pursue for her Masters. She’s an aspiring (or should I say published) writer and I recommended to her to go with the program that doesn’t involve writing. Why? Because I personally feel writing is a skill you can develop without formal education. That’s not to say one shouldn’t take a degree in Creative Writing given the chance but I think there’s similarly other material that can benefit your writing if you pursue other degrees such as History, Comparative Literature, or even Physics or Math.

Don’t get me wrong—I don’t recommend this for everybody. Those are just my personal feelings. Right now I’m busy with work but I wouldn’t have it any other way. If I wasn’t working for example, I may have the time to write but I don’t necessarily have the material or inspiration to write. Work, at least, fuels my imagination and desire to write. But as I said, that’s me. Similarly, other people are motivated to write in a writing environment. In the case of [Identity-Protected], she just came from a writing workshop and got burned out from writing. That’s why I recommended her trying out a different program for her Masters. But I’m sure there are people who work better with that kind of narrow focus, writing in the atmosphere of other people doing nothing but writing. My main issue I think is to know yourself and to find out what method is best for you. If you’re the type who needs that single-minded focus and who thrives when other people are doing the same as you, go ahead and enroll in a specialized program (in this case writing). It will do you good. But there are also people who take in various information from different places and somehow use those experiences to work on their present goal. These types are the one I recommend to try something else. A good example of these types of people are those who are working in an industry that is not what they took up in college: it might be a Mass Communication student working as IT for a company, or the Political Science student working as a manager for a corporation or a Computer Science student churning out novels and poems. Again, these aren’t necessarily bad things—they’re just different methods for different folks and at the end of the day, the only person who can tell you which works best for you is you.

A friend once scoffed at the education of other schools as his alma matter gave a general, holistic education to its student while others gave a more specialized program. I corrected him and told him that’s not necessarily the case. Some students might work better with specialized programs and others with holistic education. Personally, I’d go with holistic education by default since it’s been my experience that even when some people reach college, they don’t know what career to pursue. However, having said that, I also foresee times when specialization is appropriate.

For example, most of the universities in the country give a general education in the first two years while specialized education in the latter two. This makes shifting courses in the first two years easier. However, this I think is a luxury of time and money. There are other universities which give a more specialized education in less time (two years) and probably for less money (but it varies). Those who lack either resource and know what they want to get into might be more suited to enroll in such a university rather than the general education other universities might give. The important thing to note is that there is no one right method of teaching/learning to people in general, but there is an optimum method of teaching/learning for a specific individual.

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