The Value Of Education
I watched Manny’s wonderful video located at (http://www.tudiabetes.org/video/type-1-and-type-2-learning) which discusses the community reaction and learning for those with T1 and T2 Diabetes. One thing that always strikes me, no many how many times I watch it, is the subtle question “why did I come to TUDiabetes in the first place? I joined nearly 10 years ago and the reasons are varied I suppose.
When people ask me this question, or more likely I tell people the answer I say it is because after being diabetic for 30 years I wanted to teach and help others if I could. A noble cause if ever one existed. But over time the reason I stay has changed, and will no doubt change again. At least I hope so. It is true I have helped in a few instances to educate others. For that opportunity I am eternally grateful. But I find that for every time I have educated someone, I have been educated 15 fold. Image a return on your college dollar or time with a 15 fold increase in income or satisfaction or gaining of time? It is difficult for me to imagine that.
After I went to college and obtained my bachelor’s degree, I found about a 2 fold increase in starting pay. Now I won’t lie, I gained maybe 20 fold in working conditions. I thought it was a pretty good investment. An example being that instead of working in the sewer man hole, I was standing on top of the street looking in and waiting for word about the conditions of the line. I call that about a 20 fold increase in working conditions. Wow those things smell.
After about 8 years of working I wanted to get a Master’s degree. Studying was so much tougher and there were no guarantees of improved salary or working conditions, but I was driven to improve myself with no particular outcome in sight. I finished my master’s work about a year after I was given the job of city development director, and that was an increase of about 30%. Though truthfully I could have been that with our without the master’s degree. Even at that level it was merely a matter of pride or desire that helped me get the master’s degree.
The payoff for the master’s degree occurred 6 years later when I went to schools as a fiscal agent and in that case I was given about double the pay. I would never have been eligible for the school job without the master’s degree so even thought I could not see it at the time it did pay off. As I left school work I was making a good living and did not need an advanced degree, but I wanted to be called doctor so I went to school again with no discernible payback. As it turned out I graduated and no that degree and will never earn a direct payback because I cannot work. Even if I could I would need to return to my former position and stay another 10 years to just get even. But that is ok, I had this desire to do it and I wanted too so badly and well I got it. Call it a self-learning opportunity.
So what is the comparison? Literally I spent an additional 10 years in college and I made about 4 times my salary and well yes I stayed out of the manhole every day to earn a paycheck. Note ( I love the intricacies of the sewer system so as the new city development director the first place I went was into the manhole to see what was down there, also a self-learning opportunity).
Now let’s compare that to my experience on TUDiabetes. Where I get back 15 fold what I put in. I have learned this 15 fold from many type 2’s who have taken the time to educate me. Many type 1’s who taught me I did not know but a fragment of what I thought I did, and a few people whose family members have diabetes who have taken an occasion to educate me about what it is like living with diabetes. I grew up with the disease in the house, and I thought I knew all of that. Turns out I didn’t.
This education has helped me improve and given me at least a full 15 fold return on my investment. So why did I join the community? Well that reason seems so distant now I do not even really care. But if we are going to track why I stay, well that is easy. I learn so much more than I put in. After all, to me, life is for learning, improving and growing. It is also for staying out of the manholes day after day because you have too, and getting to choose when you want to go in the sewers to see what it’s like down there. Not because you have to go to earn a paycheck but because you are curious. (Yes it does really, really stink down there).