Education Week: A microcosm of learning

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For one week in August every year, the lovely BYU campus is taken over in the spirit of education. Not that students aren’t enthused and dedicated to education throughout the rest of the school year, but Campus Education Week takes learning to a whole new level.

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With hundreds of presenters and over 1,000 classes, Education Week reminds everyone how little we actually know. Just casually flipping through the catalog of classes made me want to take a nap. (And I don’t even like naps.) But just think how amazing it is to not know things. At times it’s terrifying to realize the amount of knowledge out there but it’s equally thrilling as well.

So to make the most out of Education Week and the rest of life, here are four pieces of advice. Because if there’s someone you should trust more than a college senior, I haven’t met them yet.

1. It’s good to be challenged. If something you’re trying to learn doesn’t make you cry at least once, you’re not learning right. While that sentiment might be a little drastic, an important part of learning is challenging the knowledge you already have. It’s not necessarily about reconciling contrasting schools of thought but rather, about strengthening what you already know by understanding the other side. Your knowledge or faith in anything can be strengthened not in spite of opposing views but because of them.

2. Read, read and read some more. Books, magazines, news stories, the dictionary, tweets, blog posts. Find new words and throw them into casual conversation, using them correctly, of course. Reading lets us understand people in new ways. When a presenter mentions a book, take note. The number of book titles professors mentioned that I’ve written in the margins of my lecture notes easily surpasses the number of geometric doodles.

3. Imagine people complexly. I can assure you that none of us know anyone as well as we think we do. BYU grad and “It Just Gets Stranger” blogger Eli McCann wrote, “And nothing is more unknown and beautiful than the strangers around us, even the strangers we know well. Because as long as a person is still able to surprise us, a piece of them is still a stranger to us.” Use this to your advantage. Let people surprise you and don’t be taken aback when your “version” of someone doesn’t line up with other peoples’. Chances are, each “version” is real. And that’s a good thing.

4. Surround yourself with people who know things you don’t. It’s one of life’s simple pleasures to have a concept explained to you by someone who feels an intense passion for it. As much as I love college basketball and understand the sport in general, I never learned about things like zone defenses. So to be at a basketball game and to have my good friend explain what a 2-3 zone is, I was riveted. He loves the game so much, more than anything or anyone else. Even if one of my friends is talking about a topic I have next to no interest in, I still find myself fascinated, if only because of how excited they get talking about it. Sharing that sort of passion is what sparks genuine curiosity in others.

Learning means everything in this life. How many Sundays a month do we hear the phrase “line upon line, precept upon precept” during church? Progression, whether it be spiritual or otherwise, depends on educating ourselves and trying to understand not just ourselves but each other. We owe it to everyone around us to share the knowledge we have, which is what makes Education Week so great. This one week in August is a microcosm for every other week in the year.

So find a challenging subject, read about it, apply what you know about it to your own life and find others who understand it better than you. Become un-ironically enthusiastic about something and never stop sharing what you know. Because there’s no better way to educate yourself than talking and working with those around you.

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