And another thing I've learned since going back to uni: It's fun watching people take their first steps into the adult world.
I'm beginning to see the appeal of teaching at this level, and it's scary, because I've never wanted to teach at university. And I still don't, but... it's fun to watch.
Watch what, you ask?
As we closed in on the end of the semester (in my rhetoric class), students were doing a lot more of the discussing and working things out for themselves, so Red Ball went from "teaching" to "guiding"-- and she did it so well, too; it's amazing what experience will do for you. Anyway. So they're thrashing out the reasons for war, and whether or not there is ever a good reason to go to war, and that sort of thing. Red Ball held out the whole semester on telling us her views; in part, I am sure, so that students would start down the path of self-discovery without her outlook tainting the picture.
And so the class discussion is in session, and it finally winds round to the all-important question: How are we, the ordinary people of any country, supposed to be able to know what is going on, what is right, etc? She chuckled for a second, then said, "Study rhetoric." A student started to say, "No, seriously," and she told him, "Seriously, that's why I teach this class: To give you the tools to find this stuff out for yourself." Comprehension begins to dawn on faces across the room. It's a scary thing, when you're 20, to suddenly realise that this whole think-for-yourself thing isn't just a college fad, but a very serious responsibility that society has deemed that you are ready for.
And in my next class (Spanish literature), the same day, another discussion was in progress; this one was about literary movements and shifts in ideologies in Europe and leaking into the Americas in the 1800s. We talked about Liberal Arts, and how we've chosen to go the more 'classical' route with our education, as opposed to a more utilitarian path that became popular with modernism or something. (Yeah, I was paying really close attention. Can you tell?)
One girl, at the conclusion of this conversation, says, "Well, that's really disturbing." Naturally, New Spanish Teacher (and the rest of us) want to know why; she says, "Our whole lives we've been told we need to get good jobs to make a living, and it turns out our worth in society is based on whether or not we're useful?" Which sparked more conversation among these fresh-faced Gen Y-ers.
I don't know if it's because I'm older, or from a different socioeconomic background, or possibly both, but this revelation inspired in me a "Well, duh!" But of course I didn't say it out loud, because again, it's scary to be 20 and suddenly find out the adult world is not quite what you thought it would be. And truthfully, I'm glad for her that she is finding this out now rather than two years from now in her first "real" job.
All that to say, this is an exciting age to hang around with, especially as one on the outside looking in. And as one with enough separation from their time of life that I can see this stuff happening and watch with joy and wonder (and with tissue at the ready, if necessary). University is fun. :)
So, it's your turn: Do you remember your first eye-opener about the "real" world? Or have you watched someone else enter adulthood?