Education related tag cloud illustration

“If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree…” blah blah blah, we all know how the saying goes. Too often have I heard persons complain about the education system and criticise it for its many problems. I am not here to defend the system as it exists, nor am I here to seek pardon on its behalf for all the lives that have been negatively affected by the avalanche of its inadequacies. However I am here to encourage. Though the system has wronged and in many ways continues to wrong us, we have committed a great evil ourselves.

We have rejected education and knowledge as a result of our hatred for formalised schooling. There is a misconception that “education” is limited to formal teaching within a highly acclaimed institution. And as a result of that we revel in the fact that Steve Jobs dropped out of college and built a great dynasty; at how Mark Zuckerberg dropped out at age 21 and made it that much easier for us all to make friends; and we rejoice in the exploits of the man, the myth, the legend, Bill Gates. These stories often serve as a source of inspiration, albeit too often for the wrong reasons. There are so many of us who would much rather stay at home and look at memes than do quadratic equations at school or rather live in bae’s dms than learn the actual meaning of “photosynthesis”. We find solace in the fact that great men did not travel the path that we are forced to and yet still were incredibly successful. We use their experiences as excuses for our despondence and laziness.

But other than the fact that these men (and women) are the exception and not the rule, the main issue for me is that we never highlight the hardships these individuals endured to get to the top. We leave out the struggles and envision a life free from “the man” and his Math of Oppression or English of Evil. The greats that dropped out of school did not just fall out of an oppressive system but jumped into the pinnacle of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. They dove headfirst into purpose. They worked like dogs and possessed a keen acumen for the field they pursued. More than this, these individuals were educated.

Education was not limited to the classroom or subjects chosen or even home work. They developed their skill outside of class and through unconventional methods gained advantage through education. Just the other day, FC Barcelona star Neymar, made a world record transfer deal of £198 million to PSG. I saw a post that commented on how incredible it was that at such an age he could be earning more money than individuals with Masters Degrees, he himself having not even an inkling of any such accreditation. But to play football or any kind of sport at that level requires an education all its own. To be truly educated one must become a servant to the craft. The producers, actors and artistes that we idolise, are far more educated than we may have thought.

And this is where many of us have missed the mark. We have become so oppressed by systematic schooling that we have begun to shun any kind of educational experience. Red inked monsters haunt our dreams and F-shaped nightmares preclude us from basking in the rain of knowledge being poured on us daily. Failures in school have translated, in our minds to, failure in life. But today I tell you that every man determines his own destiny. Regardless of what the system has done to you, do not allow it to put a bitter taste in your mouth for learning. Whatever your niche, educate yourself. Some of us may thrive under the regime of physics and biology while others may flourish in dance and photography. The common thread is that wherever you are; take every opportunity to break the mould through education in and out of school.

Most of us are aware of Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences (this takes us back to the fish point). He identified seven distinct intelligences, which are probably eight or more by now, but basically he discovered that students possess different kinds of minds and therefore learn, remember, perform, and understand in different ways. But although he developed this theory in 1983, we are yet to see the true fruits of its publication. And now, because we do not all learn in the same manner and are forced under a system to submit to one style, many of us are sifted out, some struggle and make it through, while an elite few become “successful”.

However, now, as the education system stands, unchanged, slowly changing and daunting, our greatest hope is education in its purest form. We who are informed ought to help persons learn more effectively rather than sulk about how unfair the situation is.  Yes we must fight to change the status quo but let us not forget those suffering with us. In some countries there have been moves to make the educational experience what it should be; palatable and empowering for all types of learners. And this is truly a step in the right direction.

Maybe one day education itself will cure the despotism of the system, but until then may we pursue purpose, pursue knowledge and educate ourselves.

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire” – William Butler Yeats

Posted by J.C. Huggins