Can’t stop learning now

Published 8:39 pm Monday, June 8, 2015

On Saturday, the last of Suffolk’s 950 latest high school graduates took to the stage to receive the diplomas that signify the completion of the first part of their educational journeys.

Seniors from King’s Fork, Lakeland and Nansemond River high schools marched across the stage at the Ted Constant Convocation Center on the campus of Old Dominion University in Norfolk. Students from Nansemond-Suffolk Academy had celebrated their commencement ceremonies the previous Saturday on the NSA campus. And a dozen seniors from Suffolk Christian Academy closed out the graduation season for Suffolk late Saturday afternoon at Southside Baptist Church.

Especially for those among the 1,000 graduates who do not intend to go on to college in the fall, it will be tempting to think of today as their second day of freedom from the constraints of a daily schedule of learning. And, indeed, for many of this year’s graduates, Saturday marked a separation from the rigors and requirements of structured education.

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But even those graduates with no plans to attend college or trade school or to join the military should not be misled: Even they are not done with their education, at least not if they hope to be able to support themselves and their future families in a society in which the cost of living is always rising and the pace of change ever accelerating.

We’re not certain the world was ever a place where one could choose to stop learning, but it surely isn’t that kind of place now. The increasing use of robotics to handle tasks once performed by blue-collar workers, for instance, will continue to chip away at the jobs available to low-skilled employees, meaning folks will have to learn more just to stay employable.

Even for those graduates who have no intention to continue an educational career, nurturing a sense of natural curiosity and maintaining a reading habit will help make them lifelong learners and help insulate them from the negative consequences of a society that sometimes seems to be in constant upheaval.

There’s no good time to stop learning, not even for recent high school graduates.