Education is the best provision for the journey to old age. – Aristotle.
Most of us go to primary school, high school and then college. After that we dive in to a job where we maybe spend a few years getting educated on the ins and outs of the business. But the latter half of this education is very limited. It is centered around one or two topics. And I think that is very sad. And what is even sadder is the fact that most of us stop studying after a certain point in life.
In this post I want to show you a few reasons why I think your education must not begin and end with school. I truly believe that education should continue well into the last years of your life and it should be based around a wide and vast array of topics and theories.
Warning: this post contains a lot of opinionated ranting.
The basic education and its limitations
In the majority of western countries we are lucky enough to get a pretty good education. In most nations it is a legal obligation to send your children to school and as such we get a good level of rudimentary learning. And then, as I mentioned, most of us go to college. We study an area that we are interested in and then we move on to a job in that area.
And then the study stops.
Ask yourself this question: when was the last time you read a book because you were interested in it or because it had some practical application to your life? I am not talking about fiction novels here, I am talking about going to the library and finding a book on a topic that you find fascinating and reading it just because you want to learn more?
I am guessing it has been a long time.
99% of people are only educated in the basics like history, maths and English. We have a little bit of knowledge in science and then maybe we have touched on drama, art, economics, business or philosophy. But we do not know these topics very well. In fact, our knowledge only covers the bare essentials and does not go deep enough to allow us to have new insights or helpful understandings. All we have are the basics.
And now for the major limitation of a basic western education: it is rote learned. I remember sitting my exams in college – I got excellent grades because, for some reason, my mind was able to rote learn many different things. I could memorize almost whole texts by just reading them a few times. But I rarely understood the concepts. If someone asked me to recite a certain definition I could do it easily. But if someone asked me to explain how a certain concept applied to their situation I would get a blank look on my face and just stare at them.
I think this comes from a mixture of a few factors. Firstly, I never found school particularly challenging or interesting and as such I just learned the basics to get passed. Secondly, I never had truly remarkable teachers that motivated and pushed me. They signed on at 9 and clocked out at 5. That was it. Finally, I found that the methods of grading in western schools (tests and exams) were usually based around rote learning rather than penetrating insight. And so I stuck to it.
Originally posted on November 21, 2008 @ 9:08 am