COLUMN: Learning is supposed to hurt, it is how we grow


Trent Jonas

Trent Jonas is a graduate student studying English and can be reached at 217-581-2812.

Trent Jonas, Columnist

I am what you might call a veteran of higher education.  

I have an undergraduate degree, two graduate degrees, and am here at EIU working on a third graduate degree. I like to think of myself as a lifelong learner; others just think I am nuts. 

So, I think I get to consider myself a bit of an expert when it comes to taking college-level courses.

I want to let you know that a big part of higher education involves stepping beyond your comfort level. 

Your attitudes, beliefs, and even your taste will—and should—be challenged. It does not mean that they are wrong. Rather, it means that you should be able to understand and accept that there may be other (and different) perspectives out there. 

In this way, you broaden your view of the world, and you can contribute your own voice and thoughts to the conversation and then we all live in a better place, kumbaya, etc. 

By now, you are probably rolling your eyes and wondering why I am mentioning this now. Well, I am glad you asked (or at least thought the question derisively). 

You, see my former alma mater has been much in the news lately for this very thing. Yes, former alma mater—long story, short: I graduated from Hamline University School of Law, but Hamline spun off its law school and merged it with another.  

So, although my degree still says Hamline University on it, the law school, itself, is now an independent entity known as Mitchell Hamline School of Law. Which I disavow for obvious (to me and other Hamline graduates) reasons, but it is no longer directly a part of the university. 

So, Hamline is my former alma mater, and it is knee deep in some very nasty doo-doo regarding academic freedom and whether a professor should have altered a syllabus to avoid offending a student (who had ample prior warning about the content of the course). 

Look, we all have beliefs and feelings. And sometimes they are going to get challenged or even hurt.  

Especially when we are young and full of spunk and think we know everything and want to stick it to the man. But, you know what? An unwillingness to hear challenges to personal beliefs is how dogma is born.  

Again, it is not a matter of wrong or right, it is a matter of understanding that there are different perspectives and beliefs in the world. And the point of education is learning about them—not having your individualistic point of view catered to. 

Thus, if you go to a university—particularly a fine public institution like Eastern—be prepared to be challenged every semester you attend.  It may hurt sometimes, and you may not like it sometimes, but you will grow, and you will succeed. 

And you can maintain your beliefs. Maybe they will be stronger, and maybe your perspective will shift. It does not matter. What does matter is that you understand that we are all part of a global community, and the greater your understanding of that, the more important your role will be.  

And you will be prepared for the “real” world, which will be far less sensitive to your feelings than academia. 

Trent Jonas is an English graduate student. He can be reached at [email protected] or 217-581-2812.