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Education, a commodity?
Can education ever truly be a commodity?
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Education, a commodity?
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Posted by Dylan Christopher, 2 years ago
Tags: education, commodity, thoughts

Education, a commodity?

You pay more, you get more, right? In most instances, this would almost certainly apply, but in learning, I don’t believe this can ever be the case, because it implies that education and learning, are bought and sold, like a tangible item or commodity.

There exists an expression “Money makes the world go round”, giving value to goods and services. However, how do you quantify, and qualify the value of learning?  The simple answer is, you can’t.  This is mainly due to the fact that learning is a transformative process, experienced by the individual.

Two people can be in the same room and have two different experiences because they witness the room from two different perspectives.  I often say to my students:

“I wish I could wave a wand, and give you my knowledge, skill and life experience, but unfortunately I can’t; but I can guide you through the process.”

I believe in ‘shared experience’, that being, we can learn a lot from one-another just by being near them. That said, there are certain individuals, who do not learn, because they focus inward, ignoring any and all actions carried out so far.  This individual would carry out a task, fail, but continue the same action over and over, which to quote Einstein is the definition of “insanity”.  This type of learner needs lengthy time healing their perspective and spatial-awareness to include the world and people around them.

Nothing exists in isolation; fundamentally by existing in this world, you are affected by, and have an effect on it.  Learning is experiencing these effects and reacting to them; you are changed as a human being by this transformative process. The amount of money spent has very little to do with it.

To quote my secondary school head of year, David Torn:

“You can spend all the money in the world on your education, and come out the other end and still know nothing, or you can put in a little effort, use what is around you, and do something extraordinary.”

David, or, Mr Torn as I knew him then, said this every morning, in full-school assembly and was a constant inspiration to everyone in my year-group, and I am sure, his fellow teachers.  Incidentally, David Torn would later go on to be awarded teacher of the year, and a role model for new teachers in training; look at the man in action here.

Recently, after a rather explosive outburst from a parent, a student left my instruction; despite the way it ended, they will still be missed, sorely.  I mention this because it is directly relevant; the parent of this individual cited the amount of money they had spent on lessons, and despite them leaving, of their own accord, somehow made me responsible because they, “didn’t get their money’s worth”.

Effort is time, and, time is the true currency of this world, once we spend it, we cannot get it back; I try not to waste mine.  Money generally represents the time spent, and the worth it gives an item or service.  As a person, privately working as a music tutor, you are paying for my time, which is precious to me.  You are also paying for the hours I have spent throughout my life, honing my craft, learning my lessons, gaining knowledge, and growing as a musician.  All of these things are felt by my students.

What you are paying for is the expertise of the person teaching you, not the learning.  If a student attends every lesson for a number of years, but fails to listen, practice, or more importantly respect their learning, no amount of money can change their lack of effort.

Every person has the right to education, but also a responsibility for their learning.


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Dylan completed his music training with honours at Colchester Institute, where he studied piano with Australian pianist Lesley Young, and composition with British composer Dr Mark Bellis. While studying, in 2009, Dylan won Colchester Institute’s Canon Jack Award for Solo Piano adjudicated by Andrew Ball.  A composer, promoter, and advocate of contemporary classical music, Dylan joined the membership of Colchester New Music in 2014.


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