Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Assumptions and Chance

Tonight I've been thinking about two things: assumptions and taking chances. Assumptions are ideas and notions that society seems to believe about certain things. Most assumptions (if not all) contain a degree of prejudice and the idea that 'one side' is 'right' and 'one side' is 'wrong.' Chances are decisions that involve risk and giving up 'something' for 'something else.' We all take chances in our lives, but the definition of what 'chance' is varies. Some of us are willing to risk different things than others. Like assumptions, our separate definitions of what taking a chance is can divide us between who is 'right' and who is 'wrong.' But to me, there is neither 'right' nor 'wrong' when it comes to taking chances and ideas. As someone who tends to understand both sides of the coin and sees why the similarities and differences can matter, I don't see the point in arguing or trying to convince someone that my way is the 'right' way.

In America, society holds the assumption that a private education is 'better' than a public one. But is that really true? I went to a public elementary school, a private middle and high school. I still had to take remedial math classes my first year of college because my high school was experimenting with self-directed learning. They handed me the math books and said 'here, learn it on your own and in groups.' That style may have worked fine for me with other subjects, but with math it was a disaster. Yet people complain about the lack of skills public school students have when they graduate. As an employee of a public school district, I see how hard everyone works every day to make sure that students are set up for success. I can honestly say that it is one of the best places I have ever worked.

I went to a state college for my undergraduate degree. I went to a private for-profit college for my MBA. I learned more in my MBA program because it was taught by professors who had more practical than theoretical experience. Yet there is the perception that online, for-profit colleges turn out crappy graduates and have sub-par programs. I can honestly say that my MBA was the toughest and most demanding degree program I have ever completed. I am satisfied with every penny I spent. In contrast, I have completed one year of an MFA program at a non-profit private university. This MFA program is consistently ranked as one of the top 10 low-residency MFA programs in the country. However, it is not at all demanding and consists of very little practical information about a professional writing career. It seems to be more of a platform for 'look at me and my work,' 'opinion pushing,' and activities that I could do on my own for free. It seems like a waste of time and a very expensive way to validate yourself as a writer, especially if you have no interest in teaching.

Of course, my views and my feelings on this aren't necessarily 'right' or 'wrong.' Someone else could have a completely opposite opinion, and that would be okay. Why? Because not all of us have the same goals, background (i.e. perception based on environment & circumstances), and values. Some of us desire power and our name up in lights on a marquee board. Some of us desire to help people and make a difference out of the spotlight. It doesn't matter. What matters is that we all find a way to work together and appreciate our different roles in society.

I think that's where taking chances comes in too. Some of us think that it's worth it to give up a steady paycheck and our houses for smaller apartments that cost more. We'd rather live somewhere else because we think we'll have more career opportunities there and we'll be happier. Some of us have run away from home before and found out that we needed to make sure the debt was paid first. We learned that we'd rather not isolate ourselves and that a certain dot on the map doesn't mean you'll be happy. Sensibility (or a lack thereof) isn't bad or good. It's both. Taking chances comes down to what you want more. Staying or going. Holding on or letting go. Action or inaction. Both involve risk. Both are taking a chance.

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