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What Does It Mean to Get An Education?

- 17 February 2014, 03:02
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The phrase “get an education” gets tossed around so much with little thought to what an education really is. Have you ever stopped to ask what that really means? “I want my kids to get an education!”, “I want to go back to school and get an education!” We hear it all the time. But what is this prize package? I have gone to school for a large portion of my life an I’m still not sure what the phrase means.

If we went off what the world considers an education I would say it could be summed up with a checklist. You need to pass a set of courses, with a wide degree of variation in scoring by the way, and then you are educated. At this point you will get a piece of paper and your are considered ready for a large amount of job opportunities. Once you have passed these courses it is highly unlikely anyone will check to see how well you did or if you remember any of it. How useful is this? Many have told me that this is more of a process to see who is willing to go that extra mile. You can assume that if someone got their degree they have spent large amounts of time studying and examining theories and practical application for many areas that should make them more profitable in the workplace. Having gone through the process I can tell you that some do and some don’t. I know several people that did the bare minimum and still got the same diploma that I did. On the other hand I also now several people that worked harder than me but did not seem like they would be a high quality employee. To put it bluntly they seemed like they may be eaten alive in any work environment. Education comes in many different degrees.Pun intended.

In the work environment I have seen many that have degrees from more prestigious Universities and others from less. Guess what? It doesn’t matter. Maybe in the hiring process it does but some are better at what they do regardless of their origins. In fact I would defend the idea that some that have not even had formal education could outperform some that have spent thousands of hours in the classroom. So who is better educated?

When I did my own analysis on education I had to start at the beginning. What is it that I would like my child going into kindergarten to know? The real answer is to work well with others. I want them to be able to be kind, be fair, and if necessary stand up for themselves as ethically as possible. Notice I didn’t say learn their A,B,C’s. That comes next.

Learning essential knowledge is the second part. A person must be able to problem solve, and work through life’s many challenges. This is where the multiplication and language skills come in. I think it is very important to learn math, reading, and science. The more a person knows about these things the more completely they can analyze a situation.

Some may think that I’m leaning toward not getting a formal education but I’m not. Every situation is different, and luckily every person is different as well. Some people will have to strive their whole life to gain the knowledge that others seemed to have acquired easily. Although this may seem unfair I still believe everyone has the same opportunity for success. To what area and extent for this success I would say it will be different for everyone.

So what is an education? It is the ability to gain and use all available knowledge and experience to make wise decision. Some answers will come from the heart and others from the head. Some questions will take much more effort from both. And some may end up with a coin toss or a game of rock, paper, scissors. Either way an education can come in all different forms. There is great value in a college experience but there is also great value in time playing on the playground. There is no one path to enlightenment and ultimately it is up to the adventurer to choose what they want to take away from their adventure. If you can use the knowledge and experiences you gain, to make your life better, your education was a success.

Ultimately I have to look at my children. I want them to be happy more than anything in the world. If I have a topic that they must learn I can ask myself one question. “Will this ultimately add to their happiness?” If the answer is yes then it is worth learning. To me, that is an education!

“Never let formal education get in the way of your learning.”

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