In the current election cycle, one of the buzzwords is "education," but what is being discussed is more properly called "schooling." All-day kindergarten, school-year length, teacher/student ratios: time and money do not an education make.
It is rare to find an educated person. Most people have had instruction, which is at best training, and at worst programming. Education involves more than this and it is not confined to schools. I spent 25 years as a student (and one as a teacher) and was always stunned at the success of those who studied for an exam, but learned nothing in the process. I had a course in endocrinology in which every student knew at the time of the exam that "the red eft water dive reflex is controlled by the hormone prolactin," yet I was the only one who actually knew what an eft was. I am certain that I'm the only one in twenty years of that course being taught by that instructor, who still knows the fact that was memorized. (I'm not convinced it's true, however!)
I am commonly asked how I know the things I know and I frequently am at a loss as to how to answer that question. I notice things. I am interested in the things I notice. I study these things, ask questions, search for facts, combine facts into a coherent whole, test that whole to see if it holds. That seems to me to be the result of an education.
I frequently hear people complain about the state of education in America, but the very people who complain have stopped trying to learn. Few people read a book in the past year; the vast majority who read one read only for entertainment (and most of those seem to have read the same few books, suggested by book clubs).
If you have children, when was the last time they saw you learn something? When was the last time you did something new, that required a new way of thinking? When was the last time you challenged yourself intellectually? How can one expect a child to value learning if he or she never sees someone else wanting to learn?
The most frequent (and usually first) commenter on this blog has decided to read the plays of Shakespeare. That's a daunting task, but rewarding. His son Ian's got a good role model for his education. Kudos, G.
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