I sat with a friend who did his bachelors in electrical engineering and with another friend who is an English professor. Engineering friend was trying to convince English prof friend that solving a challenging math problem can sometimes be as beautiful and fulfilling as reading a wonderful novel. He was right, and she couldn’t see it. Not because she isn’t brilliant (the contrary) but because she had never learned math the way he had.
I was terrible at math. Absolutely horrible. In college I tested into pre-college algebra but I worked my way through the high level math classes required for a BS in economics. There were moments of beauty in math. Moments where I saw things in ways I never had. I saw logic in ways I never knew were possible and it was astounding and satisfying. I cried in an economics course a few years ago, because I was astounded at how differently I was viewing things. On Thursday, in organic chemistry, I had a similar yet completely new moment of awe, where I found myself filled with wonder. I was seeing the molecules, I could picture them, their movements, their arrangements, the natural art of it all something I never knew that existed. It is an overwhelming feeling of bewilderment when you realize that this beauty has always been there and not only could you have never comprehended it before, you didn’t even know it existed.
It brought home my mother’s advice that I often quote, no one can ever take away your education. Even if I were to fail this class, or never go back, or lose everything, I would still have a different perspective because of chemistry. I will look at all problems differently not just chemistry but literature, language, math, art, they are all intertwined. This moment of lucidity also fortified that education needs to be free and accessible to all ages.
Our education shouldn’t be a career training path that is predetermined but one that is flexible and encourages us to grow and view things differently. If our citizens want to take a class on the Bible as literature, or microbiology, it shouldn’t be required that they be grad students in English, or Nursing students. Instead it should be offered because if we have a well rounded, well educated society, we can view things from an interweaved and poetic perspective.