Comparative educational experience essay

Jane Rowland Martin, in her book, "Educational Metamorphoses" makes the claim that education causes transformations within people (2). An education may come from any single life experience that changes how one perceives future experiences, and sometimes groups of those experiences may create an "aha" moment that is greater than the sum of experiences, or a metamorphosis (16). An "educational metamorphosis", claims Martin, is a "large-scale change" of ones perception of personal identity and ones schema, or life view created by a revelational experience (16). In this regard, an education is a life-long process, creating any number of personal metamorphoses. The life changes can be positive or negative, and can be welcomed with open arms or unwillingly thrust upon us. Martin argues that we must understand that "...education is one of the fundamental determinants of the human condition" (3). By doing so, we acknowledge our own metamorphic opportunities in life, and may be able to ease the cultural plight of those who follow us (152).

Life experiences that form our education may come in many ways. We might be formally taught in a student/teacher relationship, or informally taught by happenstance. What normally is not recognized is how many peripheral ways those educational experiences influence us forming in them a hidden agenda. Martin uses two types of life stories to illustrate educations influence. Eliza Doolittle, a character in "My Fair Lady," is an example Martin uses to show the first type of life stories that she calls "internal culture crossings" (72-76). Eliza, under the tutelage of Sir Henry Higgins, is given the opportunity to improve her speaking skills. Martin claims that her education didn't stop there. Eliza was, ",,, a thinking, acting, and feeling being," and therefore, she observed and learned from others within that culture that were surrounding her (21). In other words, she learned to behave, dress, and eat as a lady as well as speak like one. However, she didn't have to learn a new language, or how the basic elements of society worked. Her transformation was made from one point within her culture to a different point within that same culture, thus it was an "internal culture crossing" (72-76). The second type Martin uses is exemplified in the story of Minik, a seven-year-old Inuit boy that left the backcountry of Greenland and traveled to New York many years ago. Minik stayed in this country and had to learn English, and how we did things here. He made the crossing from one culture to a completely different one making this an "external culture crossing" (72-76). He also learned the nuances of American life that weren't directly taught to him, but that made it so he was no longer just an Inuit in this country (69-71). Minik was an American who couldn't go back to Inuit life, just as Eliza couldn't return to the simple life of a flower girl because of the complete cultural crossing (125-129).

In 2005, the process of an "educational metamorphosis", for better and worse, was thrust upon me. Before my automobile accident, I had a very pleasant routine to life. I owned several successful small businesses, and enjoyed playing professional golf and pool. Early life experiences are not something I enjoy looking back upon. My parents were divorced when I was ten, and my mother was then forced to work three jobs to keep very little food on the table. I went to college then started my business career. I still find that I will browse through a thrift store knowing I can pay full retail for most any item. I also found because of those early years that I was very self-centered and selfish. Everything I did was for my benefit and pleasure. Then, in 1993, I met my lovely wife Johanna. She is a fine and loving person, always compassionate to the needs of others. She is a good influence and a good educator. Johanna convinced me to attend church again, which was where I was headed when I had the car accident. It was a sunny Wednesday morning and I was headed off to help with Vacation Bible School. Traffic was pulled off the side of the road to let a fire-truck pass when the young man behind me decided he was going to be first back into traffic. Instead, he rear-ended my work truck and changed my life forever.

This change left me thinking I was going to have to start over, remodeling what was left of my broken body. I was a professional athlete and building contractor, and my body was my most important tool. I had to learn little things like how to get in and out of a chair, how to reach my feet to put on my socks, how to walk with a cane- and sometimes not be able to walk. I had to learn to cope with constant, agonizing pain that is only getting worse. Johanna has had to adjust, and I have to adjust to her seeing me differently. The accident has made me rely on others, and has changed every aspect of my life. Since I couldn't continue my regular employment, I volunteered to some government disaster relief agencies and spent more time focusing on the church. For years, people have told me I should teach full-time because I enjoy it so much (I taught adult education classes for the Blue Springs, MO. School district besides teaching golf for thirty years), little did I realize the auto accident would afford me the chance. With much introspection, and having to rely on others, I discovered that my real desire was to give back to the community. I was a taker for so many years and it was time I became a giver. Martin refers to this as, "Going home bearing gifts" (129). I believe that it is my duty to teach what I have learned from my journey, and to pour myself out into others. In one sense, I can't return home because I'm not that person anymore. I am not capable of performing most of the tasks I used to do, and I don't think that I would if I could do them. The metamorphosis has changed my abilities, but more importantly, it has changed my entire outlook and desires for my life. I like who I am and I'm not going back-it is not all about me. But in that regard, I am going back. I can give back to so many different people in my community, only with a new perspective and bearing gifts to help someone make it through the trip.

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