Having teachers as parents or parents who are teachers has made me a lifelong student. this is something that I have used in more than one of my college application essays or pieces that I have written to join clubs or organizations. And it’s true. The one thing that my parents did not seem to shake me out of, despite their best efforts, is my desire to hold on to a concrete view of the world, to relentlessly hold on to things as I see them.
Now, some beliefs-like my belief that there is a lot of injustice and terrible treatment present in the world at large- have largely been grounded in evidence and general consensus by the sensible powers that be. Whether that be scholars or policy makers or my teachers or my educated peers. The problem with my desire to hold on to my own viewpoint is that I’ve fallen prey to political rhetoric or cultural rhetoric more than I care to admit. And while mental self flagellation is one of my favorite hobbies (I blame depression and Catholicism on that account) it’s true that I often do not dig deeper in my mistaken beliefs about the world, unless it’s more directly connected to my day to day life. I think I’m not alone in this. I want to be involved in the process that creates health policy in this country. i want to improve individuals’ health through the organizations I work with- either by direct health interventions or through work within the government or both. This means I am on a steep learning curve. There are peers of mine ( @wryan is always my go to- go listen to him he thinks smart things about politics) who have been educated about policy in their schooling, or by virtue of their jobs, for far longer than I have been. What exactly does this have to do with world view and learning? Well I have a tendency to open my big mouth more frequently than is probably necessary in a given setting, and if I have no clue what I’m talking about, or simply repeating inaccurate political rhetoric, then there I am, a complete jackass in comparison to those around me.
(This happens in grad school constantly btw- you are in a room where you are all supposed to be learning, but there’s already people who know more than you do, right off the bat, that have had more learning opportunities than you have, and have no problem making sure you know that they know, so then you feel dumb, even if you’re all supposed to be learning.)
From what I can gather the policy environment is a large game of grad school- you want to be the savviest and smartest person in the room. And when you open your mouth you better know what you’re talking about.
My learning style is essentially trial by fire- I will continue to talk until you tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about or you tell me to hush. And that can be an extremely uncomfortable way to learn, and especially in a classroom with political science professors. I have no problem with being wrong, but the ostracizing feeling of being “the dumb one” in class is something I’ve always been afraid of. But if I can make it through the discomfort I had when learning about my privilege and the prejudices inherent in my feminism and view of individuals who suffer from the -isms, I have to believe I can unlearn the rhetoric I have learned surrounding politics and political parties.
cross your fingers for me.