The importance of education.

The importance of education.

Yes­ter­day, Andy Rut­ledge post­ed a long dia­tribe on Twit­ter about design edu­ca­tion. Rather, about the impor­tance of self-edu­ca­tion in regards to design. It left me feel­ing both val­i­dat­ed and chal­lenged.

His per­spec­tive (which I share) is that the only design edu­ca­tion that is of any impor­tance is the edu­ca­tion you give your­self — the edu­ca­tion that you demand and steal wher­ev­er you can, when­ev­er you can, as much as you can, as long as you can. Whether you glean that edu­ca­tion in a class­room at a uni­ver­si­ty (pos­si­ble, though not always prof­itable) or on your own through expe­ri­ence, hard work, research, and con­stant vig­i­lance — edu­ca­tion is impor­tant.

Teach­ers can­not be held respon­si­ble for your edu­ca­tion. They can cer­tain­ly influ­ence it, but ulti­mate­ly the respon­si­bil­i­ty is yours if you want to learn.

I (only) have a 2-year asso­ciate of applied sci­ence degree in graph­ic design tech­nol­o­gy. I earned this degree and my sub­se­quent 1-year cer­tifi­cate in web & mul­ti­me­dia author­ing from a small com­mu­ni­ty col­lege in my home­town. I can safe­ly say, though, that most of what I’ve learned about design and devel­op­ment I did not learn in school. I’ve col­lect­ed books, arti­cles, design exam­ples, per­son­al projects, pro­fes­sion­al projects. I’ve close­ly fol­lowed peo­ple online, learn­ing from them as they’ve learned, soak­ing up every­thing I can. To this day, I research and read to see what’s going on cur­rent­ly in my fields, then always seek to apply what I’m learn­ing to what­ev­er I’m work­ing on — be it for my com­pa­ny, my clients, or myself.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, this self-edu­ca­tion is not always val­ued as deeply as for­mal edu­ca­tion.

Every intern­ship and design job I’ve held to date has been neg­a­tive­ly impact­ed by the fact that I don’t have a bachelor’s degree. Every own­er or man­ag­er has had no qualms in let­ting me know this, some­times even while admit­ting that the cal­iber of my work and knowl­edge make up for the lack of degree. Andy says that such employ­ers don’t val­ue peo­ple and I shouldn’t work for them. To an extent, I agree. But when I have bills to pay and gro­ceries to buy, I real­ly don’t have a choice.

The moral of the sto­ry? Edu­cate your­self. Push your­self to learn more, be bet­ter, grow beyond your cur­rent sta­tus. But real­ize that not every­one val­ues real edu­ca­tion — some peo­ple val­ue pieces of paper with let­ters on them.

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