I can never really tell if I’m learning anything when a class is based solely on theory and not practicality. Take my class Understanding Information. For someone who is interested in Children’s and Youth Resource Services, this class is dreadfully boring and seems irrelevant in most cases. Now, this could just be me, but I don’t feel like I’m learning anything. At the same time, though, I felt the exact same way with Journalism when I became the print editor of my university’s newspaper. I didn’t feel qualified or like I had this cache of knowledge that I could utilize. However, as my time as the editor progressed, and I had to make decisions about copy and answering questions from the writers, I began to realize that I had the knowledge I needed to do my job effectively.
So when does knowledge occur? Sounds like an odd question, but does anyone ever feel qualified after a class on a certain topic? At what point can you say that you are knowledgeable in any specific subject? Or, does learning a plethora of facts that can be regurgitated at any given point, make you more knowledgeable than someone else, or does that just make you a robot?
Going back to Understanding Information, the class itself has no visible outline. I can’t see what the outcome of this class is supposed to be, what is the goal and what am I supposed to come away with? What good is a general understanding of information if I can’t apply it to anything? Most likely, several years down the road in a staff meeting at the library I’m working at, something I learned in this class will become relevant, but at the moment… not so much.
This makes me think about standardized testing as well. I was never good at taking tests, and I couldn’t figure out how my score on the ACT translated to how well I would do in college and how much money they decided to give me in scholarships. Thankfully, Pitt didn’t believe that how well I did on the GRE would translate to how well I would do in grad school, because the math section slaughtered me. We put so much emphasis on testing and the results of those tests, that we forget that those tests only represent one aspect of the test taker.
Now, it’s important to do well in school and to always be learning and stretching your mind, but at what point did it become okay to assume that a test holds this much importance.