Miss Possible: Overcoming the Self-Imposed Barriers to Education

Trafalgar Square

The only thing better than education is more education.

– Agnes E. Benedict

I just completed my first online course, Computer Science 101. When I found out Stanford University offers the course free, I couldn’t say no. The course covered very basic information about coding, spreadsheets, networking, and computer security.

I am now planning to take as many free courses online as I can. I have just signed up for the “How to Learn Math” course from Stanford, and four courses on Coursera.

Education is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves and a great way to show love. If I ask my husband the question, “What would you do if you had a billion dollars?” His answer is never buy a house or never work again, but always, “I’d learn everything I can. Take every class on every topic–become a Renaissance Man.”

I have always admired that about him, his desire to learn and do something new. He has been a wedding photographer, graphic designer, a reupholsterer, a DIYer, a chef, a painter, an artist, and a computer programmer. He inspires me.

You know who else inspires me? Other women, like the two above who are creating dolls like Marie Curie or this commercial. How different would my life be if instead of getting Barbies and baby dolls, I would have received engineering toys? Growing up, I always preferred boy’s toys to girl’s. What if there was no distinction between the two? Boys could play with dolls and girls with legos or vice versa.

From the time I can remember, I believed, truly believed, that girls are just bad at math and science (something in our brain or in the extra X chromosome?), so whenever the subjects came up in school, I had an excuse not to excel. I excelled in every other subject, but math and science, I threw my hands in the air because, you know, I’m a girl.

Thinking about this, I started to feel bad about the missed opportunities. How I chose English instead of computers in college when I had a passion for HTML and CSS. English was amazing and opened so many doors for learning, but I could have excelled in computers as well.

I may not be a little girl any more. I may not be a college student with an opportunity to choose any major I want, but that doesn’t mean I have to stop learning. I don’t have to feel bad, but remember that I can learn until I die. I hope that even when I’m 90, I’ll be reading and keeping up with the ever-changing technological world, maybe playing the newest video game.

Education knows no age or gender, so maybe instead of spending an hour on Pinterest, I can spend an hour on Coursera, or better yet, close my computer and open a book (gasp!).