A renewed love of education

Story by Tommy Kishaba

I would like to begin by begging you to please excuse my English. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a native English speaker — an Eau Claire native, even. It has been far too long since I have had to write anything other than for my own amusement, and to be honest the pressure is already getting to me. It has been over two long years since my high school graduation and I could not be more excited to be back in school.

My whole life I have had nothing but disdain and often open hostility for our education system, and the sudden change of heart is throwing me off balance. I have always had a strong desire to learn, and an appreciation for reading that runs fairly deep, yet I never understood the need for me to be in a classroom to do those things. More often than not I was in the classroom actively avoiding those things, actually.
Unfortunately, this is a common side effect of receiving an education, which fills me with a mixture of feelings, the most prominent being sadness. It took me stepping away from theclassroom for two years to fully understand the value of an education.

My first year out of high school was spent in a rural Japanese town about two hours southwest of Hiroshima, where I was technically enrolled in high school. I use the word “technically” because as a recent high school graduate and novice Japanese speaker, school was at the bottom of the list of my priorities. What I didn’t learn about science, and history and other such things while in school was made up for what I did learn about Japan’s people, primarily their students.

Japanese students are hardworking, dedicated kids. They are intent on learning not for the sake of knowledge, but for the rewards they will reap from doing well in school. Japanese culture is the perfect atmosphere for cultivating the mindset that if you do not do well in school you are a failure. It may be harsh, but it does get the corresponding results. Seeing this also helped me realize that this is the exact opposite of what I wanted out of life.

Going to school as a means to get a nicer job as a means to get more money as a means to get a nicer house is one of the more depressing thoughts that passes through my mind. I urge you to cherish this education you are receiving. Learn meaningful things — about the world, and about yourself.

It isn’t my place to tell you these things, but these are most definitely things I would not be pushing on my peers if I had skipped my sabbatical. I am going to begin this year, and the rest of my school years with a renewed vigor and thirst for knowledge. I want to learn, not for the upcoming tests, but for myself. This year is going to be about new beginnings for me. A new Tommy who doesn’t use class time to doodle, or actively ignore the teacher, a new attitude, and a new outlook on life. I hope this year can be the same for all of us, and I hope that within my ramblings you found something to be true for you. Here’s to an education.

Tommy Kishaba is a freshman print journalism major.