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Measuring Education

“But let there b no scales to weigh your unknown treasure; and seek not the depths of your knowledge with staff or sounding line. For self is a sea boundless and measureless.”

                  • The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

I have spent the last few weeks travelling abroad through reading the blog of homeschoolingmiddleeast and a draft version of a friends memoir who hitchhiked around Europe for a year. Now I sit and wonder, after all that they have learned what does that get them in our world of measuring sticks?

 I'm on a Road to Nowhere

My friend, in my opinion, has the equivalent of an undergraduate degree in history, religion and philosophy just in the first 7 months of a year long trip backpacking and hitchhiking around Europe. But when he returns to Canada there is no way to measure his learning, cause we as a society need to measure it. A degree from a recognized university gives the public a standard. What is the standard that society understands from someone who has spent a year travelling?  Is it not more than a few great photos and beers with new friends?

It should be enough for us to know our own value as the quote above says, “let there be no scales to weigh your unknown treasure”. Yet it is difficult at times when society, our friends and neighbours, do not recognize it as anything more than a cool opportunity. We are surrounded by measuring sticks.

The family that went on a five week vacation seeing the world, what an opportunity! Here in Saskatchewan, Canada I would report that excursion in my year end report to the government to show that I did something with my kids. To show they learned something. But isn’t it so much more than that? How can such an experience be measured and graded?

My Emily will experience much the same thing when she goes to Korea for a year.  There are no credits for her to put towards her Grade Twelve diploma, if she chooses to complete her Grade Twelve when she returns.  What she learns will be of her own accord.  Our systems have no way to measure such an event.  I am certain in Emily’s travels she wll learn something that could never be taught to her from a book, sitting in a desk, or staring at a whiteboard.

Could we exist in a world that isn’t measuring our experiences, that trusts our own abilities?  Can we move past degrees, diplomas and grades to another world of experience?

Photo curtesy of Jakesmome


3 thoughts on “Measuring Education

  1. “Measuring sticks.” I never thought of it like this before but it is definitely an excellent description of the world of work. More and more, many fields now require master’s degrees, let alone bachelor’s degrees. Life and work experiences no longer are enough. (I also see a disturbing trend where employers *really* like to hire young people, preferring them over “old coots” like me. Their loss, I reckon, for I bring with me many years of a tested work ethic, not to mention life and employment experience, that seems to be ignored in the labor sector. How exciting for your daughter, though! Are you nervous about her going to Korea? Jane

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