I am both blessed and thankful for all of the opportunities my education has and will continue to afford me. Thus, seeing and hearing people bash education or say it isn’t necessary, makes my stomach turn. As an educator, I realize that school is not for everyone. Heck, my own brother is one of the most well spoken people you’ll ever meet and he only spent two years in higher education before deciding to stop out. However, I also appreciate that deciding to stick it out sets you apart from the masses.
One simply cannot brag about not being educated, then speak or write in a way that says it without requiring their bragging. In other words, those among you who are educated can tell you are not educated by the way you both speak and write. Now, I do have to admit, that there are some folks that graduated from college and still speak like they attended Backwoods University. Thankfully, that is only a small number of people. Frankly, all that means to me is that you were not completely invested in your time spent at college. Also never forget that self-education is where true knowledge lies.
I’m sure you’re thinking, “Oh, E! You only care because you were an English Literature major in undergrad and grew up with an English teacher in your house.” While all of that is true, I’m not the only one who still cares about grammar. A professor at my job just asked me if we had someone in our office who could help one of her students work on his basic writing skills because an email he wrote to her was subpar. Even punctuation and grammar still matter in little things like emails.
Just this morning I stumbled upon a blog post by CNN anchor, Fareed Zakaria. He was asked to be the keynote commencement speaker at Sarah Lawrence in New York. He wrote about the power of a liberal arts education, realizing very quickly that anyone can memorize and regurgitate stuff they’ve memorized, but expressing his own ideas was altogether different. “Whether you’re a novelist, a businessman, a marketing consultant or historian, writing forces you to make choices and it bring clarity and order to your ideas,” says Fareed. See my point? I’m not the only one who thinks this matters.
Let me be clear. In no way am I saying that everyone should be like Maya Angelou when it comes to writing; no one can be like her because that was God given talent. Nor am I saying that I am the bees-knees when it comes to writing/editing. What I am saying is that having the ability to write (and speak), sets you a part from a whole lot of people. Like Fareed Zakaria said, Whatever you do in life, the ability to write clearly, cleanly and, I would add, quickly, will prove to be an invaluable skill. I could not have said it better myself.
This piece is dedicated to Maya Angelou. I find it uncanny that I would need to write something off of my chest the day of her death. She has inspired myself and so many other to tell his or her story. May she rest in power.