I was talking with a friend of mine the other night about the value of education. He wondered if it really had any value when there are so many accounts of people who forsook school and achieved phenomenal success regardless (i.e. P. Diddy, Denzel Washington, Oprah, to name a few). I’ve heard this question asked a million times, I’ve even asked myself the same question at times. It’s such a valid and important question that deserves an answer. So now that I’m at a point in life where I’m actually considering going BACK to school, sometimes I can’t help but to wonder, “Why am I getting ready to subject myself to more work and more debt just so that I can have more letters added to my name?”
And then I talked to another friend of mine and she said something to me that I thought was pretty profound…
She said that education and learning is a calling. And then it became so clear to me. I’ve always told people that I never had a dream of what I wanted to be when I grew up as a child. But that’s not true. As a kid I was always reading, always writing, always creating plays and talent shows. And whenever my friends and I would play make-believe, so many times we would play school and somehow I always played the role of the teacher. This past year, I had my first opportunity to teach film and video production full-time at a local college and it has been quite a learning experience for me. One of the best things I love about the job is that it puts me back into the environment of learning again. And not just learning but now being able to share what I’ve learned with others. That’s why I want to go back to school. In a world of changing technologies and changing ideologies, there’s always more to learn.
I always say that college is not for everybody. Maybe that’s why there are some people who are not so good at it. Or maybe it’s not that they’re not good at it, maybe they just don’t want it. They have a different path to follow in life. As for me, I love learning. And I value education. When I look at the long tradition of scholars all around the world, it fascinates me. Watching a documentary or a television program and they say “Dr. So and So” Professor at So and So Fancy University—there’s something to be said for that. That’s a calling for people to study and research for years and years on any given topic. And what a privilege it is. Scholars have the potential to change our thinking just as much as entertainers we see on TV. It’s the scholars who really dive in and study the trends. I want to be one of those scholars.
I read an article last night in American Cinematographer about a famous Director of Photography who would shoot films and then teach part-time. The crew started calling him the “Professor on the Set.” Now he’s a Professor Emeritus at UCLA. As a filmmaker preparing to go back to school, I pray that soon I will share that name. I’ve got to find a way to fuse my faith with my art (film) and with my calling in education.