Essay #1(revised)

Mollie Jutkowitz

Professor Alvarez

English 110

6 March 2012

A Broader View of Education

 

          While to many people the word education makes them think of sitting in a classroom, listening to a teacher and taking notes, it does not stop there for my mother. My mother, Rona Jutkowitz, was born on Long Island to a mother from New York who graduated college and a father from Poland who only graduated high school. Growing up, Rona was given the opportunity to get the best education available to her and earn as high a degree as she chose. Through her experiences in the classroom all the way through graduate school and the influences my grandfather, her father, had on her, Rona established what she believed to be  the idea of education. While the learning that went on in school was very important to my mother and to her career, her view of education went way beyond the classroom.

The very fact that Rona’s father lacked a “formal education”, a college degree, and yet was able to be successful had the greatest effect on her education. She did not feel that this inhibited her education in any way rather, she found this encouraging. When I asked her what effect her father’s limited education had on her education, Rona said, “My father’s lack of formal education beyond high school helped me to realize and appreciate his ability to be successful as a businessman and prominent, well-respected member of our community without the formal degree” (Jutkowitz). Rona came to this realization early in her schooling career and from this point on began to alter the way she viewed her education. She realized that a “formal degree” was not the only key to success for someone like her father, but this success “was as a result of hard work and determination.” This made Rona appreciate her opportunity to receive a “formal education” more than she had before because she realized that the combination of her degree and motivation would enable her to be as successful as her father, if not even more so. My grandfather’s determination and hard work affected my mother’s educational view greatly, but other wise words of her father were even more influential in shaping this view.

As Rona progressed, interacted further with others and gained more life experiences, she began to incorporate these elements into what education meant to her. Rona began to realize that in addition to determination, an education was not complete without life experience. Thinking back to her father again, Rona said, “My father always said, ‘There is no shortcut to experience’. This made me realize that while a formal education is crucial in today’s times, life’s experiences are equally as important” (Jutkowitz). To Rona, her education would not have been complete without both the classroom knowledge and life experience she acquired. This life experience broadened Rona’s knowledge in ways classroom learning would not have been able to. Rona embraced all kinds of different challenges from that point on because they all contributed to and enhanced her educational experience. While all these other factors became a part of Rona’s view of education, she never disregarded the importance of the intellectual challenge and classroom learning.

 

 

 

While Rona stressed the importance of non-formal education, I knew that formal education was just as important to her as a result of who she chose as her educational role model. When I asked her who her educational role model was, Rona answered without hesitation, “My husband’s cousin who is a very determined, focused, driven and hard-working man. Alan went to Harvard and then Yale Law School and was a Rhodes scholar. I have a lot of respect for Alan’s determination and perseverance and I always admire his willingness to take on ever increasing challenges and responsibility” (Jutkowitz). The person Rona chose as her role model when it came to education focused more on the ‘school’ aspect of education as opposed to the other aspects. Rona recognized that what enabled Alan to reach as high as he had with regard to earning his degree was his determination, the same virtue she had learned from her father. This was further affirmation to Rona how important determination and hard work are to her broader view of education. Both her father, a successful person without a formal degree and her educational role model, a successful student, accomplished all that they did only through motivation and working hard.

 

 

After discussing different elements of education with my mother and what they meant to her, I asked Rona what the word “education” actually meant to her. While all the things she had already said about education remained unchanged, Rona added the aspect of challenge in and out of the classroom. According to Rona, “[Education] is about putting yourself in an intellectually challenging environment, both in and out of the classroom as well as a socially and emotionally challenging environment. Education leads to emotional, intellectual and social intelligence” (Jutkowitz). It was not until later on in her life, when Rona was finished with college and graduate school that she was able to recognize and incorporate social and emotional challenges into her meaning of education in addition to the common intellectual challenge. This definition of education took years of both thinking and experience for my mother to finalize. Through the education of life experience, Rona came to recognize how important the social and emotional challenge of going to college in Chicago, without knowing anyone else, had become to her education. Education doesn’t only mean ‘textbook intelligence’, it also means “emotional and social intelligence” and the only way to acquire these three intelligences is by challenging yourself in these three separate ways. The way Rona challenged herself socially and emotionally was by stepping outside her comfort zone in these areas and going to school in the Midwest without any her friends, something similar to what I have done by coming to Queens College.

 

 

 

 

 

Having my mother expose me to the way she viewed education caused me to think about and evaluate my education. My mother thought that my attending Queens College was the equivalent challenge to her going to college in Chicago. When I asked Rona how she felt about my staying close to home for college she said, “I think that your staying in New York for college and going to Queens College is still pushing you beyond the limited parameters of your high school, which was an all girls’ Jewish school. So by going to Queens College you are broadening your horizons by being in a co-ed, diverse environment. In addition to the classroom education, this is a social and emotional education” (Jutkowitz). Although I am experiencing college in a very different way than my mother had, Rona says the essential social and emotional challenges are present. Having gone to a private, all girls’ high school I was not exposed to the diversity present in a college like Queens College. Based on Rona’s view of education, up until I started college my education had been lacking the two key elements of social and emotional challenge. According to Rona, stepping outside my comfort zone of an all girls’ Jewish high school and going to a school like Queens College is “broadening my horizons” and filling in the missing gaps in my education.

The view Rona has on education differs greatly from the traditional view that many people have. For many people, education is strictly about the book learning and the grades but for Rona that is not enough. To Rona, an education is not complete without the intellectual, social and emotional challenges, the formal degree and life experiences. Through time and experience Rona learned that none of these educational elements are possible without hard work and determination. Both her father, a man who only graduated high school, and her educational role model, a Harvard graduate, influenced the way my mother viewed education. Through these views, I have been made aware of the importance of education outside the classroom and how, although different than my mother’s, my education is providing me with all the essential parts. I have been able to incorporate the important elements of education Rona has shared with me, which have greatly enhanced my education.

 

Works Cited

Jutkowitz, Rona. Personal Interview. 4 March 2012.

Seal of Harvard University. 1636. Wikipedia.

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