Today I was reading a post by another blogger, Kelly Raudenbush, who writes a blog called I Overthink Everything, My Blog Is A Prime Example and her post about her child in 5th grade math class. It immediately resonated with me, reminding me of my days in high school where I fought a battle trying to learn how to balance equations in my freshman Physical Science class.
I had gone to an eight room Catholic School that was way behind in both math and science. So when I hit high school it was difficult to keep up. I went from being one of the students at the top of my class who never had to struggle to desperately needing help. No matter how much tutoring I got, I just didn't 'get it.'
My confidence in my ability to do well in science classes was seriously undermined, but especially in chemistry and physics. I managed to escape high school and college the first time avoiding those classes, but when I went back to college as an adult I had to retake science classes because mine were 'out of date.'
So I hit Biology class first thinking 'OK, I can do this one.' But in the first month we had to balance equations. It sent me into a tailspin. I was certain I would fail before I started. I dreaded class. But I went (the habits of a lifetime of not skipping classes was still highly ingrained.) Amazingly enough it was a snap. I COULD do it. I finally got it.
Why hadn't I been able to manage to learn it before? One word: FEAR. Fear of failure. I spent so much time worrying I would fail when I was in high school that I couldn't get past the fear to learn.
So today, when I face something I've never done before, or am scared of doing, or think I might not do well, I remember the REAL lesson I learned in that college Biology class that had nothing to do with chemistry or biology. I learned that by letting fear paralyze me I was letting it control my life instead of me being in control. As an adult I like being in control so I have to give up the fear and move past it.
While I've never had to balance equations in my everyday life, facing our fears is something all of us do in our lives. So when someone tells you about the value of a college education...listen. College isn't just about the classes you take, it's what you take from class. Listen to them, they're right. (Even if they are your parents!)