Does An Unconventional Education Make You Any Less Educated?
According as each has been educated, so he repents of or glories in his actions -
Spinoza, Ethics, 1677
Since education is an important topic for all, I have become aware of the public perception of who people think an educated person should be or what they should be like. Some groups of people argue that without a traditional kind of education a person cannot be properly educated. A traditional kind of education will typically begin at kindergarten and continue right through primary and secondary schooling to further or higher education at colleges and universities. But is this view completely correct?
Some other groups of people however believe that a person does not necessarily need to go through the traditional route of schooling to be an educated person. Henry Ford famously argued against a libel suit whose sole purpose was to determine if he was indeed an educated person despite not having such an education. He proved to be quite the educated businessman he is renowned for.
In fact, many men and women have become successful without the grammar or comprehensive schooling that constantly boast of their high achievers. Such people like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg or Apple’s Steve Jobs who were essentially school drop-outs, simply knew what they intended to achieve and went after it with all they had and in any way they could. Today, they are hardly seen as low achievers. So, although I know that there are obvious benefits to the academic method, I also believe that there are other ways of teaching people who do not fit into the traditional ways of learning.
Sir Ken Robinson in his Changing Education Paradigms noted that there is a model of education that labels people as academic and non-academic. The problem is that those who are considered non-academic are often judged as being less clever or incapable of real learning. He recommends that “we get over this old conception of academic, non-academic, abstract, theoretical, vocational labeling and see it for what it is: a myth”. Real learning does not need to separate people but should aim instead at promoting collaboration and teamwork. Rather than a rigid system of learning, education needs to be flexible in order to accommodate different kinds of people and incorporate different modes of learning.
So if you are not the academic type but you have a skill in any of the arts and crafts, do not be intimidated into thinking that you are any less educated because you haven’t been through the academic route. There are several other ways to hone in on your talents and use them in achieving what you want. I believe that an educated person is someone who knows how to find and use the most appropriate information available, to resolve a specific issue. While a traditional or academic education will equip you with proper researching skills, it is not the only way of acquiring the information you need to solve whatever problem you may encounter. And that is what being educated is really all about; being well-informed enough to find a suitable solution to whatever issues you face. Here are a few tips to help you do precisely that:
- What is the nature of your problem?
In order to resolve an issue, you must first know what it is. So if your problem for instance is fixing your broken bath-tap, knowing this helps you to realise who or what you may need to resolve the issue.
- What is the information required?
Sticking with the broken tap example, the information required will depend on who or what you need. If you aren’t competent with fixing such things then you would need an expert plumber. However, if you are competent with such things, all you may need are your tools.
- Where can you find such information?
If you require a plumber, then the Yellow Pages will be your best bet if you don’t have access to the internet or know of anyone personally. The internet is usually much quicker though. If you only require tools, then all you have to do is fetch them from your workshop if you have them. But if you do not have the required tools, you will need to search for your local D.I.Y store or a specialist supplier.
- How can you gain access to the information?
This is a good point to consider. While accessing some of the information you require may be free on the internet or elsewhere, you may however be required to pay for further information. This obviously depends on what you need and where you go. You will agree that most advisory bodies like solicitors for example, will often charge at least an administrative fee. But on this occasion where you require either a plumber or plumbing tools, you will need hard cash in order to gain access to either of them.
- How do you use or apply the information?
And finally, you will have to use whatever information you have gathered to find a solution to your problem. If you opted for the plumber, then you should put him or her to work on your broken bath-tap. But if you were attempting the fix yourself, you will need to put your tools to good use.
Using this approach, I believe that people can learn or discover new skills, new places and new people and become competent, proficient and confident at using what they have to achieve the goals they set for themselves. Whoever can do that is an educated person to me and you don’t need to be an intellectual to do that. Enjoy Sir Ken Robinson’s video below, then get out there, have fun, and be lucky.
By E. Nyoreme Nakpodia
Does An Unconventional Education Make You Any Less Educated? © 2012 Nyoremes Books, a subsidiary of Nyoremes Inc.
- The Secret Teacher challenges Mr Gove (guardian.co.uk)
- Changing Traditional Higher Education Toward Lifelong Learning (miguelescotet.com)
- Bring on the Learning Revolution! (clifmims.com)