>The value of an education

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Education! Ah! Sweet education. The parents’ legacy, the duty that every parent owes to their offspring, the difference between civilized men and savages…education.

Inthe middle ages, once a man had received any measure of an education, even apprenticeship at the hands of a skilled craftsman in metal working, weaving, painting, any of these things was enough to change his family fortunes from the lot of peasants – little better than slaves- to something vaguely human.

Even in our villages as recently as the mid to late 20th century, education was highly sought after. With education came respect, power and the opportunity to vastly improve the lot of one’s family and people. Indeed, entire villages would boast of the son/daughter of “Mama Chukwudi” or “Mama Tope” and such as being an educated person from the village. Such an individual would be hoisted and held up on a pedestal for all others to see, envy and aspire to. In many situations, an education was one way to guarantee an instant chieftaincy title. Those were the days…

Today, education counts for little. Money is now god. Nobody cares about what you know; only who you know and how much money you have. The evidence of this is abundantly clear. Pity that…because contrary to popular skeptical belief there is still something to be said for the value of an education (a proper one anyway) far beyond anything money can buy. But that’s not my point today. I’m more concerned about the feeling of apathy toward education that I’ve sensed, felt, seen and which seems to prevail among many young adults today.

Personally I couldn’t care less about what Webster, oxford or any other learned fellow defines as ‘education’, I have my own views and seeing as how this is my blog and all, I will proceed to impose them upon you my victims…err..erm..…readers. In my opinion, an education is not the ability to reproduce industrial quantities of equations off hand or recite entire passages of the constitution by heart. An education is not the ability to write lengthy, terminally boring epistles on “the role of segregated mutant turtles in post world war 2 cotton industry economic recovery” or some other such obscure, uninteresting rubbish which modern day academics seem to churn out endless quantities of every year. To me, an education is receiving instruction in the ways that a civilized person in a chosen craft should think. It is being taught the basics of a “discipline”, the things required in order to understand, question and utilize the basics and knowledge from this discipline in whichever way is most beneficial according to your riches in intellect.

What I’m saying is: The purpose of an education is not to tell you why and how but to make you question why and how, to inspire you. Case in point: the first Universities in ancient Greece were simply places where intellectuals gathered to discuss. ‘Students’ were those that gathered to listen and learn and QUESTION and thus be inspired. That is the most important part of the entire exercise. This little piece of wisdom has somehow gotten lost in translation over the past few millennia.

The reason so many of us do not enjoy education anymore is because that piece is missing. The desire for knowledge, the inspiration, because if you truly desire to know, nothing can stop you once you have been inspired.

Having studied for my undergraduate degree in a Nigerian federal university – Obafemi Awolowo University (The Not-so-Great Ife) I can safely tell you I was not spoon-fed knowledge. There were many courses where instruction was nonexistent and some of my lecturers must have been Ninjas because they were allegedly teaching us but somehow I never saw them or heard from them. Still… for some courses…I taught myself, I found books, practiced questions, debated and argued with my classmates. I even used to watch some lectures online from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and attempt their questions (most of the time I failed miserably. If you like be there saying Olodo, as if your IQ is up to a two digit number, silly fellow). Even now at Imperial College London, I find things to be much the same. Except now the lecturers can ignore you with better technology (sorry to break it to those of you that keep blaming the Nigerian education system for everything, but it’s not necessarily better on the outside). Some of the lecturers are great, but still, if you don’t ask, or investigate, you will not know.

This desire, the fire is what’s missing. And it’s what we need good teachers for. A good teacher not only teaches you the mechanics of what to do, but why you should do it and also what is wrong with it and why you should want to know more. And this starts at the basic and earliest school level. It is only at this stage that the natural childish inquisitiveness can be harnessed and channeled towards ‘wanting to know’.

Seeing as how the education system constantly and consistently fails to do this, I guess it’s up to us, the parents of the future to do this for our children. It sad to still see parents in this day and age utter statements like…”You must be a doctor/lawyer/engineer!” why? Why must the child be any of these things? Because you couldn’t do them yourself? Because you want to be able to brag that your child is a doctor? So that what will happen? You will enter VIP section in heaven? Bullshit and Rubbish.

A parent’s job is to introduce the child to all the aspects of life. Show them possibility, expand their minds, then set them free to ask why and discover for themselves. Else you will simply breed a home of resentful children with low self-esteem, whom have been forced into doing things they do not wish to do and indeed some cannot do. It qualifies as rape. Rape of the mind. Then my friend you will have wasted all your time and money sending your children to school and you will have educated no one.

That is the worst part, people who have been to school and not been educated. There seems to be so many of them today. Filled with regret, anger, resentment and always wishing they had done something else; filled with the despair that only lost opportunities and murdered dreams can bring. They are majority of the ones who do not see the point in having gone to school and as a result do not see the value of an education.

For some brief moments in my life I have been one of those people. But every now and again I discover something that reignites that interest and passion that was originally planted in me by my parents and some of my teachers and lecturers, that thing that fascinates, amazes, makes me question whyand want to know…makes me realize why I want to be an engineer. I guess that is kind of why I wrote this. To remind us all that the value of an education is not so much in the details of what you have been taught but more in what you have been inspired to do. It may be in the same field or not, as long as someone, somewhere has made you wonder why, question, investigate, create…you have been educated…somewhat. What you do with that education is up to you.

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7 thoughts on “>The value of an education

  1. >Nice read. Got me thinking though. The most potent force for change and full mastery of life is the recognition that our own impoverishment came from a large measure, our "education". Education as we have come to see it cages you. The real education comes from within. The mind indeed is a powerful tool, when harnessed through discipline produces gigantic results. Most brilliant minds from both history and our contemporaries were those who shunned the four walls of an institution, and invented a whole new system.

  2. >It has to do more with your passion. I did my first degree in Economics and I must say it was 4 years of crap. I didn't love it so I wasn't motivated to wanna learn. Doing my second degree now and I get excited.. Classes can be boring.. Very Very Very boring but because I have a passion for what I am doing and I wanna learn more, I go out of my comfort zone to find out me.But I think the reason I love International Business is because there is no definite answer to any question.. It makes me think, bringing out my creative side . And I look forward to the hot arguments in class.. My ideas are appreciated as long as I can defend them.When you love something, even if the educational system is crappy, you still wanna learn.P.S I made this as short as possible 😀

  3. >Lmao @ “the role of segregated mutant turtles in post world war 2 cotton industry economic recovery” and 'rape of the mind'. You see why i didnt want you to stop bloging? If anyone should own a blog, its you.its nice to see someone who belongs in the same school of thought as i. Henry Thoreau wrote a piece on education (that i read in my english class, the only class i cant skip :p) that made me begin to question how many youths really receive such today…no one investigates on their own. Hmm!P.s- why do i feel like this was inspired by ESN's Unilag rant? 😀

  4. >@ slim siren-yes it was inspired by her rant-i actually saw Wole's tweet about him writing a blogpost on the matter.anyways,enuf of my Gbeborun, lemme comment about the real issue.I spent four years studying Political science, my 1st 2 yrs,annoying!but 3rd and fourth year was fun cos we dealt with real life issues. not some1's school of tot on 1 issue or the other or some long ago political history.when i look at it now, did i really learn anything from the Studying Political science?my answer is not really!Even though i love politics and all,i would have still learnt all i know about it without going to the university to study it.but in truth,the University was an eye-opener.it served as a training ground for real life ahead. it taught me how to deal with a lot of issues,people and all.the classes probably taught me nothing, but life outside of class was the real teacher.and IMO-except for people studying professional courses like Medicine,Law,Egineering and all-University classes are just a huge waste of time.

  5. >@UncleJevi: I mostly agree with you and yes, the modern education system is designed to breed conformists and mediocre minded people. a lot of it still has to do with the individual. beyond the degrees, course work, projects and the rankings, lie potent ideas, that, once inspired by the right teacher…can be used for great good. thanks for the comment.

  6. >@slim and @Poetry: Yes, i had been thinking about my education for a while and then i saw @ES's rant and it made me think a bit more. then voila! here u go. thanks for the comments and compliments. I will keep blogging…for now :Dbtw, tuns, I'm sure u've learnt something from the experience I guess it probably should have taken so long or been so hard but i'm sure you will find a use for at least some of those things. @Tolufi: yup! thats my point! passion. but passion is usually awakened early in life and best nutured. some unfortunate people have thier passion killed prematurely… then the rest of thier education becomes a weist!

  7. >First and foremost, we are gradually moving into a knowledge economy. This is where a person's wealth will be measured by what s/he knows not neccessarily by how much they have.In this dispensation, our ability to challenge the status quo will be exhibited in our restlessness (eg: this blogpost).I disagree that the universities today have been designed to produce mediocres and comformists.The universities at undergrad level is there to impact knowledge, post grad is to encourage you to have an opinion and PHd is encourages you contribute to a body of knowledge that will be studies by others…..Disagree or not, education is still very important because it ensures continuity and stability.I am surprised no one has mentioned the lame excuse that some successful people quit school at some point. It is a lame point because, without employing educated graduates, Bill Gates, Mark Zukerberg and Richard Branson would not have been half as successful as they are today.In my opinion, today's educational system is still very relevant, instead it is our narrow mindedness that school is the only place that we go to learn is that is failing.I tend to right long comments, deal with it! I never proof read nor spell check, deal with that too!Nice post!#OkBye

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