July Fourth Stands for...Independence

Barry Lenson
July Fourth Independence "Brothers, let us goeth forth now and enrolleth in online courses!"

What is the most important trait that Americans share? In other words, what is our national character?

When you try to figure out what that central trait is, a lot of possibilities come to mind. We Americans are self-reliant, resourceful, brave, moral and spiritual, open-minded, family-oriented, civic-minded, and a lot more. But I’d like to nominate this as the trait that is most central to our national character . . .

We Americans are independent

I mean, it’s Independence Day, right? Today, we’re celebrating the day when we literally became independent from Great Britain. That’s how our nation was born. So what could be more central to being an American than being independent? It’s what made us a country.

But I’ve noticed that in certain situations, Americans’ have given away some of their independence.  Education is one area.  Instead of behaving like hardy individualists when we’re confronting education, a lot of us exhibit sheepish behavior like this . . .

  • We knock meekly at the doors of colleges and universities, begging to be let in.
  • We throw up our hands, agree to overspend and over-borrow for college, and give up control of our own financial lives.
  • We expect professors and college advisors to show us how to plan our careers instead of taking the lead ourselves.
  • We seek the status of prestigious colleges, even though we know that the courses they offer are no better than classes that are available at hundreds of other colleges or online.
  • We give up years of our lives and jump through hoops to complete college learning programs that require courses that have little to do with our career plans.

Yet Our National Character Is Waking Again

While many of us seem to be infected with those dependent attitudes, growing ranks of distance learners are returning to our national character. Through their actions, they’re making statements like these . . .

  • “I can be admitted to a good college at any time, on my own terms.”
  • “I can create my own curriculum for learning, not rely on so-called experts to tell me what to do.”
  • “I can take control of my own educational costs, not lie down and agree to pay anything that colleges want to charge.”
  • “I don’t need a high-status college, I only need one that teaches me what I need to know.”
  • “I can earn a degree, even though I am working a job or raising a family.”
  • “My age doesn’t matter, the only thing that does is my desire to learn.”

So on Independence Day . . .

Let us now praise famous men – our founding fathers who brought us independence from England. Let us praise online college students too. They are a lot like our founding fathers, and their courage will lead us to independence of a new kind.

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