Embracing Individuality | γνῶθι σεαυτόν

Temple of Apollo Delphi Gnothi Seauton (3)

Photo Credit: Skhaen

Before entering college, when I was looking through a college brochure to decide what course of study to take, this immediately grabbed my attention:

AB Interdisciplinary Studies

The course of studies in this program is highly flexible and is suited to the individual student rather than to the requirements of a traditional major.  Students may take courses combined from various programs such as management and psychology, literature and communication, political science and economics.  Essential to this approach is the individual direction which is provided to each student by a senior faculty member.

Many IS graduates proceed to law or business school; work in advertising, business and government; and become teachers, writers, and artists.

I knew in my heart that was what I wanted.  But someone really close to me, someone I considered a mentor immediately dissuaded me from choosing that like it was the plague.

The reason I wanted to choose IS is that I wanted to study sociology, but also learn writing skills.  I am also attracted to advertising, and that was mentioned in the course description.  But what sold me was: “Essential to this approach is the individual direction which is provided to each student…

But…because of my “mentor’s” reaction, I changed my first choice.

Luckily, the university which provided that course also had a general Communications subject where I was still able to learn writing skills from a reputable professor.

But back to that line: “Essential to this approach is the individual direction which is provided to each student…

Shouldn’t every student be able to apply that to themselves since everyone is…an Individual?

If the path to one’s goal happens to be the same as many others and is well-established, that makes things easier.  But would that still make one less of an individual?

cookie cutter

Photo Credit: Tomtchik

That brings me to the question:

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Now, is the answer to that the same as:

What makes you truly happy?

If not, why on earth do we keep asking the first question?  Shouldn’t we be asking and answering the second question instead?

If students are not answering this question and not spending time on their own interests, how interested can they possibly be in studying?

I was always a lover of learning, but I never answered that question until after I dropped out of college.  Had I started answering that from 4th grade, I know that I could have been an even better student.

That is why I paired the title of this post with the Delphic maxim:

γνῶθι σεαυτόν (gnōthi seauton) or “Know Thyself”

If the educational system does not provide that instruction, we still have the ability to follow it.  But how much easier would it be to achieve happiness if it did?

So how about the first question?

There’s no point in asking it anymore because the answer should always be:


Auguste Rodin the ThinkerPhoto Credit: Hansjorn

This entry was posted in Classical/Enlightenment Thoughts, Education and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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