Education is a wonderful asset to anyone. With a good one the sky is the limit, and without one opportunity may never come knocking. In today”s society, so much emphasis is put on education. How many times have we heard the saying “if you get a good education, you”ll get a good job and make a lot of money”? Even today, my parents remind me of how much a college degree would add to my marketability. But when does it become too much? Is it possible that one could overlook the more important values in life in search to become a “learned man”?
In Richard Rodriguez”s story Challenging The Traditional Classroom he examines his life as a student, and the affects his learning has towards his attitude about family and heritage. Rodriguez is without a doubt a very talented student. His ability to learn is enviable. Many times I would wish that I were able to get into my academics as much as he was into his. For example, while in high school, my English class was reading several plays by Shakespeare.
With all the difficult words and hard to follow story lines, it would have been extremely helpful to have been able to go through the plays willingly, and with enthusiasm. Instead, I read it because I had to, for fear of getting a bad grade. On the contrary, Rodriguez actually enjoyed schoolwork. He tells us, “…. any book they (teachers) told me to read, I read –then waited for them to tell me which books I enjoyed. Their every casual opinion I came to adopt and to trumpet when I returned home… “.
He approached academics with an eagerness that left everything else behind, including his family and culture. As Rodriguez became more involved with his academics he drifted further away from his family. The intimacy once shared between them was disappearing. “He takes his first step toward academic success, away from his family. “. His family also understood the importance of education, as his siblings did well in school, but were never “so anxious about their schooling”. Upon making sure that her children learned English, Rodriguez”s mother would tell them to maintain their Spanish.
This was obviously a hint to the children to remember their culture. While soaking in all his academics, Rodriguez intentionally abandons his culture. He makes it obvious that he wants nothing to do with his heritage by imitating the accents and diction of his teachers. He also doesn”t participate in family gatherings, which is evident when he tells us, “Nights when relatives visited and the front rooms were warmed by Spanish sounds, I slipped quietly out of the house”. Rodriguez actually uses his academics to move further away from his culture.
He believes that being educated in academics will truly make him successful, and “like his teachers”. It”s sad to think that one could put so much focus on education, and not see the importance of family and heritage. These two things are what make us who we are, and despite what we go through, they will remain unchanged (in most cases). Rodriguez learns this lesson first hand when he realizes the error in his ways. He goes back to his family and heritage, who end up still providing the love and compassion that has been, and always will be there.