Irreversible vs. Irrevocable

A recent entry by Ray Bacchetti on the Tomorrow’s Professor Blog has had me playing with words. Towards the end of a piece titled “Birthright” he has a simple three word sentence – “Education is irreversible.” And I like that sentiment, but in talking about the line I quoted it wrong to my class today, saying instead, “Education is irrevocable.”

The more I think about it, though, the more I like my butchered version. An education once given can’t be taken away, but it can be left to erode. And erosion of education is close enough to reversing its effects, I think.

All this has been rattling through my head as today was the last class for my advanced students, half of whom will wear the funny gowns in two weeks and then go do good things. Some are excited, many are nervous. What comes next is huge – and hugely important.

One of my favorite journalists, William Jeanes, wrote many years ago that, “Today is always better than yesterday. Tomorrow, better still.”

So a word or two for them – it gets better from here. Take what you’ve learned and go apply it. Be good journalists. Be good students. Be good citizens.

Your education is irrevocable, use it.

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