Curiosity Column: What is Education to You?

EducationTraining_Landing_Image_0Education. The one word that is often our best tool and biggest nightmare. To young children, it can be where curiosity meets learning. To high school students, the step that leads to yet another step. To college students, it is both a clear balance of opportunity cost. But what is education to you?

Is it the acquisition of new skills? An intermediate step to a better job or career? Is it the pursuit of answers?

The truth is, education is different to almost everyone. That is why technical and trade schools exist alongside colleges across the globe. There is no right answer to this question, but to find your answer it requires some meditation.

For many children who are seemingly shoved through school by the droves, life is a dull, endless, day-in-day-out scenario. It is a requirement-perhaps by the government or simply by society’s standards-that must be completed for us to “move on” to the true substance. We are thrown into a mass of other colleagues to be drilled and trained in a set of basic skills that we are told we cannot live without. Reading, writing, arithmetic; the list runs on and on.

We are taught to read, only to enhance our ability to look at information and regurgitate it on tests. We are taught to write so we can fill out paperwork mindlessly. We are taught arithmetic so that we can pay our dues correctly. Without thought. Without question. Is this definition truly education?

I guarantee that at this point you are shaking your head, but how often do you find yourself going through day after day after yet another day with this process. Even the most exciting careers have these instances of overwrought boredom. Here is where I want to pose two interesting points to you: This is Water and Education is the Pursuit of Ignorance.

Wait. What? I thought education was to involve ourselves with the answers, not make us ignorant. And water? What does that have to do with education? Well, let me first show you what water is from David Foster Wallace’s viewpoint:

Take a moment to absorb that. Real education is not about what we know or how we define the things around us. The power of real education is choice. It is awareness. It is the reasoning to do everything we can with what exists around us in all its simplicity. Education is a mindset.

Why, then, do I conjecture that education is also the pursuit of ignorance? Ignorance has long fostered a negative connotation and is all too freely associated with uneducated and unaware. Yet it truly means the “lack of knowledge or information” (- Meriam-Webster Dictionary). What we do not know.

Take a step back for a second and examine the history of the world for a moment. People did not originally know the radius of the Earth or find it in a book of divine nature. It was calculated and derived. Columbus did not know the Americas existed before he ran smack dab into them when searching for a trade route to India. Physicists did not know for sure that the Higg’s Boson existed until searching for it extensively. All of these were unknowns. We were utterly ignorant. Even all knowledge, “verifiable facts” that is, of all humans alive today does not explain or cover everything in the universe.

Thus we, as curious creatures by nature, pursue ignorance. We pursue that which we do not know and understand. The universe and all its mysterious complexities are no where close to being uncovered. Education, in my mind, is the pursuit of that which we do not comprehend. It is the pursuit of what can be done with what we know, what we can uncover about the mysterious, and how we choose to think of our day to day lives. Pursue ignorance but do not live in it. That is the task of education.

Now ask yourself, what is education to you?

“I never let my schooling interfere with my education.”
– Mark Twain

Here are two other fantastic videos with views on curiosity and the pursuit of ignorance. Please leave us your opinions in the comment section below! What is your take on education? How does it function in to your life? How is current public/private education around the world dysfunctional?

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