Education as a life-long process.

As a 16 year-old, I was looking forwards to the end of school. The end of tests, exams and education. Then I decided to go to university. Okay, so three more years of education it was to be. In reality I spent four and a half of the next five years at university. But what then? My basic degree didn’t qualify me to do anything I really wanted. So, I took a year off and then embarked on another two years of university education to complete a Graduate Diploma and a Masters degree.

So by this time I had my VCE (Victorian Certificate of Education or year 12 qualification), two Bachelors degrees, a graduate diploma and a Masters degree. At this point I swore, never again. Never again would I embark on more education.

A few years later, I had moved into an area of my profession that I didn’t really think I had the qualifications to handle. I could just go back to what I was doing or I could embark on further study. I had also start to wonder what would happen if I wanted to change professions during the course of my working life and the consequences that having a very specific Masters degree would have on my options. Enough time had passed and my thirst for learning had returned. So, I decided to take the more challenging option and returned to study a further Masters degree. This time, doing so while juggling a job that was highly demanding and involved far more hours than your average full time job. Luckily, my job also involved lots of travel and I soon discovered time on airplanes was valuable study time. I finished that Masters degree a few months ago and this time knew that it was not a case of swearing I would never study again. I knew it was pointless to say I would never study again, not just because I have a thirst for learning but also because I view education differently now to when I was sixteen years old.

When I was sixteen, I thought education was something you did when you were young, but then you finished. Now I know, education should be a lifelong process. Even within my profession, things change over time. Our professional governing body requires we embark on continuing professional development in order to keep up and offer services which are up to date. This is a sign of the world we live in.

Our world does not stay still. It changes all the time. Things progress very rapidly and to not learn is to get left behind. The kids graduating from high school and university now are far more knowledgeable in areas that are currently in demand from the job sector that I was when I graduated high school all of those years ago. If I was not to study, I would quickly get overtaken by the newer, up and coming generations. They would be the ones that get the good jobs and I would be left with the scraps. Like many people, I have no desire to be left behind by the younger generations which means I need to study and embark on further education. In a world where things change so quickly, learning is key for everyone. If you think about it, this is not just true for our work lives.

Look at the members of the older generations and who are unable to use computers and other technologies which form a key pillar to all aspects of our lives. Have you ever wondered how they let that happen? How did they not keep up? Truth be told, we are also at risk of ending up in a similar situation. With technology changing so quickly, it is easy to be left behind. If we want to continue to use the technology that we value so much in all areas of our lives but which changes so quickly, we must continue to learn and educate ourselves in how to use the latest and greatest tools and gadgets. Training, learning and education is the key.

The need for education, however, does not mean that everyone must embark on multiple higher education courses. We are lucky enough to live in a world where learning and education are at our finger tips. The internet means there is almost unlimited information that can be readily accessed. This information can be easily accessed simply by looking up topics of interest. If you don’t have internet or a computer, there is always the local library. With free access to internet and computers in most libraries around the country, accessibility to information is at an all-time high. Of course once does have to be careful about what they read on the internet and the quality of information but for anyone who is unsure, there are also a plethora of courses run through various institutions that are free to access.

In the few months since I have finished studying, I have done a chemistry course, a physics course and a course about the social side of changes in agriculture. All of these are free. I found something that interested me and I put aside the time to learn. I am sure that it won’t be long until I start something else because the one key thing I have learnt above all else over the years is the value of continuing to learn. Education in one form or another is not something that we should view as a process that occurs and stops, but rather a key element of our lives that is a lifelong process.