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More Than: Abby of Abby Normally

March 3, 2010

Hi! My name is Abby (maybe you know me as Abby Normally) and Heather has asked me to write about an aspect of healthy living and I was happy to say I’d write about education. My bachelor’s degree is in Classics and I minored in Philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh. Classics? Greek and Roman civilization. Philosophy? Nerd alarms should be ringing right now. I wouldn’t blame you if you ran away and never returned. But don’t do that Heather, she’s nice and has nice things to say. You don’t have to visit my blog, though…but you can, if you like.

Anyhow, I’m not doing anything really cool like discovering old ruins or translating the dead sea scrolls, but I do find my job very rewarding. I work as an enrollment counselor for Adult and Continuing education at a small College in Pennsylvania. I have the unique ability to show working adults with families, financial obstacles, and very little encouragement that it is possible to complete their bachelor’s degree.

A lot of the people that I work with come to because of a job–they’ve been passed up for a promotion, all jobs require a degree, they want to be paid more… not that those reasons are bad at all (people have to live!), but there are so many reasons why education is important because its purpose is so much deeper than a raise or a nicer house. It’s the way to teach people how to evaluate information and think critically and I honestly believe that education is the foundation to leading a healthy lifestyle. It is one thing that cannot be taken from you, and I think it’s safe to say that keeping your mind exercised and fueled properly will help the rest of your body function at its best.

I’m not expecting you all to run off and get a degree, or another one, once you read this. It probably isn’t that practical, but I wanted to give you a little insight into the educational process and how it relates to what we’re all doing here in the healthy living blog-o-sphere.

The purpose of education isn’t to dump information into the empty, lifeless minds of a student. Knowledge is completely useless if a person can’t do anything with it, so, regardless of what you thought in your high school Algebra class, there is an objective to all education.

First things first: knowledge. Basically, educators DO dump knowledge in your minds, but the good news is that minds aren’t empty or lifeless. You probably know that younger kids are really good at memorizing, but they haven’t really developed the ability to comprehend the information so they just spit it back out. Think of multiplication tables, spelling lists, and memorization, right?!

Clearly if we spent all of lives only spitting out what we’ve heard, we wouldn’t be growing intellectually. Once the knowledge has been shared and absorbed, there’s comprehension, application, analysis, and synthesis. Those are the technical terms, but let me get down to brass tacks, people: It’s a mark of maturity to be able to evaluate the information influx and to keep the good and toss out the bad.

But what does this have with a healthy lifestyle?  There is a plethora of information out there on health and fitness. High fructose corn syrup is bad, no it isn’t. Do more cardio, do less cardio, etc. Anytime we’re bombarded with the information we need to be able to understand  the general information, grasp underlying principles, apply it to our lives, and be able to teach and explain it to others.

Education and the processing of knowledge gives us a better understanding of the world around us–whether it be about food, exercise, psychology, literature, history, whatever! And the beauty of quality education is that the learners do not walk out like programmed robots. They are not taught simple facts, they are given the ability to reason and sort through the mess of “facts” in this world.

But how do we get this information without going to class? Well here are some ways that I like to find new information. Read! Nicholas Sparks doesn’t count. Pick up a book about a topic that interests you, even if you’re afraid the book itself might bore you. Work through it and take notes so you have something to refer to later. Change the channel! Turn off the Bachelor and head over to the Discovery Channel or the history channel. Educational TV shows cater best to laziness because they’ve done all the work for you and all you have to do is sit and watch the pictures. My favorite is the Wikipedia Click. It’s no secret that I love the internet, so sometimes I’ll type a topic into Wikipedia and let the links in the articles lead me to new and exciting information!  Just remember to always, always, ALWAYS evaluate the information you’re given.

One of my favorite quotes is from Aristotle, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought with accepting it.”  I find that the is the whole purpose of the healthy-living community. We are a group of people sorting through daily information, comparing it the reality of our lives, and sharing it with others who are inundated with the same information. And the true purpose of education can’t be to selfishly hoard knowledge, but to share it in a way that can be beneficially and uplifting to others.


To learn more about Abby, visit her wonderful, recently redesigned site. You can also read Abby’s 140 character max thoughts by following her twitter feed.

Abby  is a GREAT discussion starter;  her posts always seem to start a conversation in the comments! – join the discussion on a few of Heather’s favorite posts at the NEW Abby Normally website: here, here, here, here, or here.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. March 3, 2010 6:17 pm

    I love that you have an “ordinary” job and love it! So many people (myself included) are looking for their “dream job” and think it’s supposed to be this fantasticly interesting and unbelievably important job that I think we forget the ‘every day’ jobs can be just as rewarding and sometimes more important. Thank you for helping me to look at my “ordinary” job a little differently at a time when I need to the most.

    • abbynormally permalink
      March 3, 2010 10:31 pm

      Thank you, Maria! Sometimes I get frustrated because I’m not on the “front lines” of my area of study, but then I realize that I am bringing so much good to so many people. If I didn’t do it, someone else probably would, but then I would miss out on all the reward and blessings that these students bring to my life, too!

  2. March 4, 2010 1:32 pm

    I admire you more than anything for loving your job. I NEVER thought I would be someone who disliked their job, and here I am. I don’t think jobs have to be glamourous for us to love them – I loved my training job for years!

    And darn, Nicholas Sparks doesn’t count?!? LOL, jk. 🙂 The only positive things about my job are that the owners are HUGE on reading. They are always forcing (good) books in our face and making a read. I have learned from that.

    • March 5, 2010 11:06 am

      I think I am going to hire you to be my trainer! And no, I don’t count Nicholas Spark. Sorry 🙂

  3. March 4, 2010 6:58 pm

    inspiring attitude towards work that i need to adopt. thanks for sharing! 🙂

  4. March 4, 2010 8:29 pm

    Abby I LOVE this post!! The message here is SO crucial and you are SO right. Education is something that no one can take away from us. I value my education very highly and having been raised by a teacher I place a huge importance on school and learning. In fact, I think I will send this to my mum right now 🙂

    • March 5, 2010 11:07 am

      Yea! Thanks, Caitlin!! I think we should never, ever stop learning! What fun would the world be?!

  5. March 20, 2010 7:59 am

    I was referred here by a friend, and agree that the article is indeed great. My only qualm is with not counting Nich Sparks. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not going to sit down at the beach and soak in his latest book-soon-to-turn-movie. But there is a place for all sorts of writing and reading. In fact, I agree with Ray Bradbury, who says you should devour every book you can get your hands on.


    Not to have your world shaped by poorly presented, cookie-cutter ideas and ideals, but to figure out what good writing is and what bad writing is. If all you read is Kurt Vonnegut, Plato, and Robert Penn Warren, you’ll never understand why you like certain books. Reading all sorts of stuff also helps you see how different writers of different genres use language to advance their stories.

    So yes, education is important. Vital. Essential.

    But education requires us to learn from our mistakes. Even the Nicholaus-Sparks-sized ones.


  1. welcome to
  2. No Shame. « Then Heather Said

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