I read somewhere recently that all education is self-education. I really appreciate this because it makes sense to me. I can take it upon myself to learn on my own without teachers – in the proverbial sense – and without a school or a neatly packaged curriculum.
Conversely, even if I’m enrolled in school, I could be seeking to merely accomplish what’s necessary so I can get the outcome I desire – be it a grade or even a degree. Seth Godin has some strong opinions on educational philosophy, especially in relevance to this point. “The test is a stick, the grade (and the degree) are the carrot, and compliance is the process.” If we focus solely on outcomes, we miss all the good stuff that’s supposed to happen in between. The test is ideally intended to verify we learned something, evaluating exactly how much and how well. The degree is ideally a representation of the education we spent x amount of years and energy earning. Unfortunately, this is an uncommon perspective these days.
The notion of all education being self-education puts the responsibility on us as to whether or not we’re going to learn. As I oscillate back and forth between staying in school or giving all my energy and time to my reading and writing, I’ve been continually reminding myself about the opportunities that lie dormant and underutilized in the average educational process.
I’m gaining exposure to things that I wouldn’t otherwise, or at least not nearly as quickly. In my particular situation, I don’t feel overly challenged with the content of the school work regarding what’s necessary. Sometimes the quantity is challenging, but this seems annoying rather than productive. The point being made above is that we can go extra deep in the studies and really mine for gold if we want to. This has never been a personal approach to formal education for me, so it’s naturally strange and unfamiliar. Frankly, it’s counterintuitive to the way I was academically raised. It’s pretty cool that we can really make something out of even a community college education, or even out of the books that we read. The real stick is that we have to challenge ourselves though. Easier said than done.