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Gerald Young, Ph.D.
Gerald Young Ph.D.

Students of the World

We are all students of the world.

We are all students of the world. First, we are all students no matter what our age. We live in a learning laboratory that is life. We are exposed to the best teachers - experience and each other. We could be the best learners, should we keep the curiosity and motivation that animated our childhood, which might have been either in front of books or before the glories of watching ants in the grass.

Students in college and university are doubly blessed. They are at the peak of the learning experience from the cultural perspective and they have the energy and yearnings of youth to propel them into the world once their education stops. However, it never really stops. As much as anything else, their idealism needs to be fostered at centers of education. Society should nurture their enthusiasm rather than worry about and canalizing it. We should raise our children not to be in our image but to have their own and to impress their stamp on the future so that it can continue.

Second, we are all students who are exposed both to the wonders and hurts in the world. The majesty of nature has bred in us an equal majesty in our intellectual and knowledge quest, our passions and compassions, and our desire for improvements in what we see and how we act. Part of that mission is to give back to nature what it has given us. Sometimes, we are too taken by our daily lives to have time for anything else. However, we all have the capacity to learn the magnificence of nature, suffer in how it is harmed, and strive to remedy the harms. No one can do it alone, but we cannot act together without our vibrations working together.

The universe has basic rhythms and it provides the chorus to our life. We need to place ourselves in the middle of its harmonies, and contribute to it. Sometimes we have to withdraw into ourselves to do this and other times we have to move outward. The back and forth sway of our activity works best when it functions from a calm interior presence. We need to learn to control influences that get in the way of being calm without damping the energy that accompanies it.

Students are graduating this time of year from many levels of institutions of learning, from elementary to post-graduate. Your parents and guardians are justly proud. However, you face an uncertain future and elements beyond your control. Although you are striving to be at the center of your world, you begin at the margins. How can you assure yourself that you have some say in reaching your goals?

First, you need to define your goals and, as this essay is arguing, they should include wide visions beyond the daily struggles of finding the right job and surviving the day. Living in balance makes walking the tight rope easier and even helps find good ways to get off it.

Second, you need to live your life, not your goals. The balance of daily living means that you are not dizzied by trying to reach the end but are aware of the present and what it needs for it to go as best it can. The ends do not justify the means; this truism has to be balanced by another one that states the ends help define the means so that they need to be the most noble that we can imagine.

Third, keeping a positive outlook helps in any situation. In addition, preparing for any situation helps keep a positive outlook. Practice makes perfect, they say, but I say that practice is perfect, and whether it ends perfect might be beyond our control. Moreover, you need to change and modify what you practice so that it fits the changing times and circumstances.

In their convocation addresses, students want to be assured that life will unfold with their dreams intact, given all that they have put into their studies. Granted, you have learned academic and technical skills, but these must be nurtured continuously in lifelong learning. Moreover, although you have not received marks for the people skills that you have acquired in the last few years, they constitute an equally important acquisition in the course of your formal education. Modern technology is linking you in social networks, but people skills are face-to-face skills. Family and friends, colleagues and co-workers, and so on, are your best teachers.

Communication is not just about two people in dyadic exchange. It is also about groups of people communicating (countries, communities). Students can help different communities communicate through their vitality, creativity, and skills. By continually learning at this level, students can help beyond their immediate social world. In this sense, you are all students of the world who can help the world.

What are the right questions to ask as you graduate?. In each question lies the elements of answers that you or others acting together can find. Each question is an entry to a universe of questions, so never stop asking. Each question can bring forth answers that have never been proposed, and that can help you and others, so never keep seeking. In other words, always remain students of the world no matter what your age, and both you and the world will keep growing for the better.

Students learn critical thinking skills that cut across classes and disciplines. However, critical thinking does not only mean being critical in thinking. It especially means being careful in your thinking, considering all the factors involved in a situation, and what might be the best solutions. Critical thinking is also about creative thinking, thinking boldly, and thinking morally. Our generation had given life to you and we want you to think critically for us where we have not. That is the best way that you can be students of the world.

About the Author
Gerald Young, Ph.D.

Gerald Young, Ph.D., is a professor of psychology at York University.

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