So my formal education is completed. It’s all official now. I’ve done the little song and dance, I walked across the stage, I posed for the pictures. The diploma is in hand.

At least that’s what they tell me. I think I’m going to miss the classroom. I don’t know about the tests, the busy work, or the group projects. I suppose it’s a package deal. But I’m going to miss formal education. I’m going to miss walking into the classroom and having someone be paid to instruct me. I don’t think I’ve ever realized what a privilege that is. Those teachers were paid to show me how it’s done. And many of them really cared about making sure I got it. That will rarely happen again.

I’m going to miss the passion some of my professors could impart. I remember American Literature in the fall of my sophomore year. We read Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson. First of all, I’m not a big fan of poetry. Second of all, I’m not a big fan of poetry. I read the assigned works by these two the night before and didn’t get much out of it. A mess of words that flow pretty well but don’t impart a lot of anything to me. I tossed the book aside and went to watch The Simpsons.

The next morning my professor would be overflowing with exuberance about these poets. He read them with a passion I couldn’t seem to muster. The text came alive, and I actually began to realize there was more to Dickinson than the darkness of a lonely woman.

I’m going to miss that kind of dedication. That willingness to do what it takes to teach these people something. Teaching is not an easy job. There are so many great teachers I’m thankful for. They’ve changed my outlook on life. They’ve made me see things I never noticed before. They’ve shown me that I can do things I’ve never done before.

For all of that they have done, I am truly thankful.

But we all know education is something that never really ends. You keep learning for the rest of your life, it just may not be as rigorous, and the tests don’t come back with red x’s and a percentage at the top. Your learning will continue, and this time the teachers won’t be salaried.

There will be mentors who come alongside and teach you a thing or two here and there, if you’re paying attention. There will be people you can learn from, people who can guide you, as long as you’re willing to keep your mind open, and to continue to grow. In a sense you become your own teacher. You can only continue to learn if you are willing to realize the lessons those around you have to teach.

And in that sense my education is not over. And it never will be. For I have a lot to learn about a lot of things.

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