Education is one of the most important tools that we are given, and being informed helps us to make the wisest decisions, shape our opinions, and know who we truly are. Once we have informed decisions and opinions and know who we are as individuals, we can use those decisions and opinions to serve our purposes in the world. Education exists not only through facts that we learn in school, but exists in every area of our lives to enrich our spirits as well.
Each medium of communication educates us in a unique way:
Books: An excellent book is written in such a way that it paints a beautiful picture in our minds about scenarios related to the book’s topic, and the potency of the words through which those ideas are expressed touch our feelings in a manner that shapes our thoughts and opinions about the topic. The beauty of books is that the writer can incorporate many unique styles of writing to communicate his or her message effectively, whereas newspapers, magazines, periodicals, and scholarly journals generally have a much more limited style of writing that is generally more factual. All genres of books can educate us in different ways, but certain genres of books are better at educating us with facts, such as various genres of nonfiction, whereas different genres of fiction contain many morals and life lessons. Audiobooks are an excellent resource as well.
Some of the most culturally and historically educational fiction books that I have read and recommend are:
Ties that Bind, Ties that Break by Lensey Namioka
Children of the River by Linda Crew
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Nectar in a Sieve by Kamala Markandaya
Journals, Periodicals, and Magazines: These are great sources for factual information and/or current events. Scholarly journals are your best bet for factual information because they contain documented research with technical terminology about given topics and that research is usually analyzed and concluded upon by scholars, researchers, and people with expertise in a field. Some good examples of journals are the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and The Chaucer Review.
Periodicals are great sources for factual information and current events. They are unique because they are often relatively short reads that contain appealing visuals, and educated terminology for the factual informational articles. They may cite outside sources and are released on a periodical basis (weekly, monthly, etc.) which keeps the information up-to-date. My favorite periodicals that I find extremely helpful are The Economist and The New York Times.
Magazines are helpful if you want to know about current events, and they can, but not always, be helpful if you want factual information. However, one must be careful about believing the information that magazine articles present as true because one of a journalist’s main objectives is to get a fascinating story, and in order to make a story interesting, information can be incorrectly displayed and “spun” upon. Magazines are extremely visually attractive with many photographs and articles that are usually easy on the eyes to read. However, sources of information are usually not cited and data is usually not thoroughly presented or contextualized. Magazines contain “news stories, personal narratives, and opinion” articles (1). Magazines are wonderful sources if one wants to be entertained with stories about the latest gossip or trends. Some examples of magazines are Time and People. For more information about journals, periodicals, and magazines, follow these links:
Movies and Plays: Movies and plays are educational because they portray real-life scenarios from the script that allow us to connect with the story and characters, relate them to our lives, and learn the lessons and morals portrayed in them because of the way they are presented to us. Every aspect of the film or performance tells a part of the story, from the actual acting, to the costumes, to the props, to the music, to the lights. Plays are special in communication because the actors are performing in front of the live audience and can interact with them if they so choose. Movies can be factual but can also teach important life lessons. Plays teach important life lessons as well. Some great movies that I learned a lot from include “Freedom Writers,” “The Blind Side,” and “Miracle.” Recent movies that I enjoy and also made me think are “The Kids are All Right,” “Black Swan,” and “The King’s Speech.” Also, if you are looking for a great play, I recommend seeing the classic “Hair” if you haven’t yet.
News Channels and Public Radio: These are excellent sources for up-to-date-news stories. They often provide recorded footage or photographs of live current events and additional live commentary that communicates what is going on in the world. The best news shows provide correct information about different viewpoints of stories. However, like magazines, many news shows spin information in order to make a fascinating story. This can also happen on public radio, so be careful about believing the news that you see or hear and check a variety of sources to verify that it is true. One news channel that I recommend is BBC and one public radio station that I recommend is NPR (National Public Radio).
The internet is an excellent place to search for these mediums of education electronically in order to educate yourself. Also, a local bookstore or public library are other excellent places to access these mediums of communication. One special thing about libraries is that they provide almost all of these mediums of education, provide audio books, and provide databases that give you articles from books, journals, periodicals, and magazines with information about your desired topic of study. Be sure to check out the resources and databases of Seattle Public Library!
The other extremely important way to educate yourself is simply by seeking out educational opportunities as you live life. Some of these include:
1) Traveling or going to someplace you have never been before — this can include a new hangout, restaurant, area of town, country, etc. The different ways of life will further broaden your thoughts and ideas.
2) Spending time with friends and interacting with people — we love our friends and they are a great support system to us. Because we love them and admire them for their qualities, their ideas can teach us more about life and ourselves.
3) Volunteer — it is spiritually rewarding to help people, and participating in the volunteer work will inform you about that organization’s work and specifically how that affects people and the community.
4) Keep a journal — you can further discover what you believe and who you are by using your own voice and expressing those ideas through your own writing.
5) Attend a religious service or place of worship — if you are religiously curious or a faithful religious follower, the spiritual guidance can help you discover your beliefs, who you are, and how to live your life.
Educating yourself in a variety of ways will further inform and help shape your beliefs, thoughts, and opinions so that you can use them to fulfill your purpose in life.
Post by Meagan, teen blogger