Education: Receiving or Claiming?

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19 March 2016

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In Adrienne Rich’s “Claiming an Education” Rich presents the argument of claiming an education. In the United States claiming an education often seems far-fetched. Education is not free and not for everyone, or is it? Claiming an education sounds a lot like taking what’s rightfully yours. Do you receive an education for society or does society present it for a student to take? Rich seems to think that education is presented for those willing to claim it. “The first thing I want to say to you who are students, is that you cannot afford to think of being here to receive an education; you will do much better to think of yourselves as being here to claim one.” (Rich) Perception is everything when entering the world of education. This powerful quote from Rich’s article sets the stage for any student’s performance in their education career. Receiving is thought as a collaboration process. Rich explains that receiving is to come into possession of or provided to someone in a receptacle manor.

The concept of learning involves one how is willing to teach and one who is willing to learn. If a professor is willing to teach, it’s still up to the student to learn. Learning is a matter of taking advantage of the resources provided. Rich relates the majority of her article to women’s education. Women have the odds against them in our society. Society tells them to be mothers and homemakers and not pursue their education to the fullest. This may be because in our society the man is thought of to be the provider by working to provide for his family. In order to provide to the fullest in our society, it requires a higher level of education. Education provides the natural incentive of making more money by gaining trust from employers. This trust comes from the employee investing in his or her own education. Rich seems to go against the grain and show her women audience that they should claim what is rightfully theirs.

Rich explains that there has been in increase in women seeking out their education but not giving back what was rightfully given to them. “We still see very few women in the upper levels in faculty and administration”. (Rich) Rich explains that even all women colleges are ran by men. This seems interesting because Rich is encouraging women to claim their education. Claiming something from my perspective means to take and not look back. Receiving means that someone may have to given something they have away. If women were teachers and administrators, women would feel better about receiving an education from another woman. Would receiving an education be appropriate for this idea? Rich’s argument is summed up when she informs the reader that the idea of claiming an education can be embraced by any sex, race, color or creed. “Responsibility to yourself means refusing to let others do your thinking, talking and naming for you; it means learning to respect and use your own brains and instincts; hence, grappling with hard work”.

(Rich) Education is not for everyone but it is there for the ones willing to take it. Rich provokes her reader by letting telling them to dicover their own jurney to education. We live in a society that embraces abstract thinking and making something out of nothing. Rich’s article is even reflected in this day and age. Our society is full of inventors and inovators. Making something out of nothing is what are you is good at. Finding answers to complex yet interesting problems become a compeitive challenge for most. With the wave of an internet society and and creative clulture, Rich’s abstract idea of claiming in education almost seems like common knownledge now. The you are seeing education as an opportunity rather than a trap. If the finitial element was taken out of the equation, their would be even more oppotunites for students to claim their education. I took advantage of my opportunity when it was presented to me five years ago. I was at loss for a crareer and I had just changed my life.

Durning this time I made a decision to take a look at all the negitive things that were consuming my life. I had just gotten sober and needed to reenvent myself. I had tons of negitive beliefs about education. I thought I was not smart enough, too old, I thought I didn’t have enough money and that it was not the right time for me. All those negitive and passive thoughts got in the way of me putting off my education. This was not the case when a friend suggested that I could utilize my own expierence to help others. I stated to take classes in psychology and counseling. I wanted to be of service to others stuggling with the same issues I once had struggled with. I claimed my education by taking one class at a time untill I felt comfortable with a full load of cources. I received a few good grades and it helped me change my beiliefs on my education. I had such low self esteem when it came to accademics. I used to hate letting other students grade my work in fear that they would think that I was remedial.

I also hated working in groups because I feared that other students would judge me. It took time for me to feel comfortable with my abilities. Once I finally felt comfortable, the thoughts of furthering my education seemed endless. I don’t think anyone gave me my education. I saw the opportunity and took advatage of it. I feel that reciving an education takes some loss of self will. If there was only one type of school or subject I would feel that I’m receiving an education and not claiming it. There are so many subjects and avenues a student can take. I claimed my education in socilogy and counseling. I blended all the subjects together to make my own education. All of the subjects were presented to me so I just calimed the ones that I wanted. Rich’s article put a whole new prespective on my thoughts about the education system. I feel that everyone should be able to claim their education without being questioned or persuated in any way. Women in particualar have a hard time with this in are society.

I feel that not much has chaged since the time Rich wrote her article till now. Women still are not seen as equals in the field of higher education. There are not to many women professors or deens. I think our society has a lot to do with it. Women are expected to have many of the same interests. There seems to be a lot of pressure for women to get in the field of cosmotology or fashion design. Advertizing makes it look apealing and desireable to them. Even telavion shows display powerful women in theres areas. They never show powerful women in congress or in the medical field. If our society glorified those areas of study for women, we would see a lot more women in college. Rich provided a great argument. I deffintly agree with her idea about claimig an education. Although in our country not all education is free. Some education pthas are hard to claim without money.

Typicicly you don’t see many doctors who come from poverty. I still question why that is. Is it because people who come from poverty are not as capable as people who are not? Or is it because they don’t have the fintial recources to receive their higher education? An education is there if one chooses to take it. No one is going to hand out an education. It takes the willingness to learn and the sacrafic to succeed. Education is not for everyone but it is for anyone. Women and men of all races and ages should consider claiming their education. Rich’s artial is a great inspiration to anyone seeking knowedge. Rich reinforces that one should not listen to what other say and do what makes you happy. The next time someone askes me where I went to school at I’m going to say, I claimed my education at San Bernardino Valley College.

Works Cited

Rich, Adrienne. “Claiming an Education.” The Common Women(1977).

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StudyScroll. (2016). Education: Receiving or Claiming?. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 3-Oct-2023]

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