Graduates continue along Education Road

Published 9:23 pm Thursday, May 31, 2012

A quick glance in this education reporter’s planner confirms what many of us already know: high school graduation season is here.

Nansemond-Suffolk Academy, the first cab off the rank, will hold its graduation ceremony tomorrow.

Next Saturday comes First Christian Baptist School, and the following Saturday, Lakeland, King’s Fork and Nansemond River high schools will free their 2011-2012 seniors.

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At a time when the “real world” is about to receive a sudden influx of these young folks, it’s worth considering what they’re about to experience, and how they will shape that experience.

Many of them will continue down the road of education at college. Others will continue down that road in gainful employment.

Some could continue motoring down Education Road in front of an X-box — for a while, at least — or on that backpacking adventure they’ve been saving for.

Point being, the cessation of school means the end of familiar routines, sure, but education is something that stays with us throughout our lives, no matter what we do.

A bunch of clichés spring to mind right about now: You learn something new every day. You never stop learning. I went to the school of hard knocks.

Here’s a thought for graduating seniors feeling gleeful about never having to crack a school textbook again: that textbook was deemed part of the curriculum by education administrators because, in their relative wisdom, they knew it would serve a beneficial purpose.

That sounds very stodgy, but it’s a good thing to bear in mind.

When one leaves school, even if one goes directly to an institution of higher learning (ambiguous enough phraseology given the spirit of this cautionary tale), one suddenly becomes master of one’s own “curriculum” and starts assigning one’s own “textbooks.”

A middleman with a certain understanding of which lessons are the most valuable in life — an imperfect but useful middleman — exits stage left as, in the high school auditorium, you exit stage right. The future is more in your own hands than ever before.

Our experiences shape us beyond anything else in life. What those experience will be are often out of our control — they are unpredictable and unreadable — but a lot of the time, we set ourselves up for success or failure.

Cognizant of that fact, we would do the things and mingle with the people to achieve a better and richer life; but ignorant of it, we leave too much more to chance than is necessary.