Explore the world of academia on your own accord, not theirs

AFTER completing primary school, I was constantly asked about my plans for secondary school. When I graduated high school, I was told I needed to position myself to enter the world of tertiary education. After graduating from university, I was told I needed to go back again to get a higher degree. I was told this by family, friends, and even strangers. Some people said it was a means of motivation, while others said it was a means of enforcement or some kind.

Personally, I really do love the world of academia. However, I do know that there are times when you feel pressured and even coerced into doing it when you don’t want to. I’m constantly being asked when I will obtain a Master’s Degree. I can and I will but I will do it on my own accord, nobody else’s. This is what inspired this week’s article, as it is becoming increasingly annoying, to say the least.

Now, sound secondary school education is compulsory as it is required for most jobs out there; that much is acknowledged. Nonetheless, some families still force their children to write CSEC subjects they have no interest in. They coerce these children into joining streams, simply because it’s a “higher” one. That happens even though there’s no ranking of streams most of the time, just the difference in subjects offered. Education is important. It is an empowering tool that is useful throughout one’s life. Education allows us to succeed at the things we set our minds to achieve. Education is meant to be freeing and rewarding. The way in which we force the wrong ideals and beliefs about education does the exact opposite of what it’s meant to do, to begin with.

I’ve noticed the unhealthy mechanisms used to control and limit children in Guyanese society. Parents force their own personal values and beliefs onto children. They even go as far as trying to live their dream of becoming someone of high esteem and “greatness” through their children. Family members who want to see the family legacy continue for generations to come might want to coerce younger relatives to go into the family’s line of studying without acknowledging that said young relative may want something different for his/herself. People are so even mocked and laughed at for not following through with their educational plans the way their peers did. There’s no timeline to get it all right.

If you personally feel that you need to take a break from academia, go right ahead and do so. If by chance, you are being forced by someone or something to do a degree or enter into a class that you don’t want to partake in—don’t do it. You need to make those choices for yourself because, at the end of the day, your field of study will lead you to your lifelong career. It will be such a shame that you choose a field of study and career without liking it to begin with.

This is something you ought to do for yourself. Learn the difference between coercion and encouragement. Before my degree, I always allowed myself to do what others told me to do as it related to my field of study. These days, I realise that I personally need a break from the path I see myself throttling; I have my own personal goals and ways to achieve them. Remember at all times that education needs to be empowering, enlightening, and engaging. If by chance, societal pressure allows you to feel otherwise, then remember always to do what you feel is best for you and your future.

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