To be in school and to feel like a real adult are not mutually exclusive. We use to think school as an ivory tower bonds our vision and experience in a pure academic environment that filled with passion of exploration and fragrance of books.
Indeed, the workload (marking, reading, writing) strives for most of your daily attention and arrests your bodily experience in certain locations mainly home or library, or sometimes café. Your mind is excited and refreshed by a great flow of stunning thoughts from those glorious scholars though your life track might be boring. You know the world is vast from the universal level to the micro-biological structure.
However, is there a real clue of how we apply what we have learnt from university to the urgent dilemma of the real world? I beg most of the readers do not have an answer, which makes the assumption of ivory tower still validate to some extent today.
It is not clearly taught in school as well.
An explicit end of learning arts (I am an Arts graduate; for some other subject such as computer science or medicine might be more clear, but I doubt if the end is taught to meet the need of real people) is not given in curriculums or instructions.
Unfortunately, not many care to commercialize the knowledge and skills we learnt from William James or Merleau-Ponty, though they represent a culture that “is there to have a therapeutic effect on us; which is why it matters so much in a troubled world.”
What is a real adult? I do not think age is critical in defining adulthood. A sense of responsibility towards others is a sign. Or it could be an awareness of self-reflection on everyday behavior and conversation. Sinking from any “object markers” of official maturity, they are all about outlining an “underlying psychological reality”, a landscape that sprouts real maturity.
I used to address in my master final thesis that people should have awareness to become planetary citizens “who are responsible for the survival and the prosperity of the earth and are integrated into a cosmic order.”
To be honest, I am not really sure if what I learnt impacts my perspective towards the relationship between humans and environment, or my lens of environmental ethics impulses me to take up knowledge and theories as justifications of what is right in this issue.
From the time of entering the graduate school, I was driven to examine the knowledge with the surrounding social issues, through which I value the university environment very much and meanwhile feel uneasy with the ambiguous promise of an employable future associated with the degree.
As an Arts graduate who still drifts on today’s labor market, however my interest and knowledge might be undervalued there, I know it is essential for someone, and for a growing number of people, to become concerned and caring, to a bigger piece of the living world. It is with sincere hope that a high-quality school environment like Queen’s would help wash students’ unconscious bias and neglect, and establish a wider and incisive vision into the engaging social fabrics.