Education is never ending

by Henrylito D. Tacio 

You may not agree with me on this but one of the most discussed subjects of the times is education. Put 10 persons in a room and you will have at least nine different definitions of what education consists in.

Education is something a person gets for himself, not that which someone else gives or does to him,” says John Holt. “Education is what survives when what has been learnt has been forgotten,” states B.F. Skinner. “Education is the instruction of the intellect in the laws of Nature,” contends Thomas Henry Huxley.

My idea of education is to unsettle the minds of the young and inflame their intellects,” points out Robert Maynard Hutchins. “The great end of education is to discipline rather than to furnish the mind; to train it to the use of its own powers, rather than fill it with the accumulation of others,” argues Tyron Edwards.

Education makes people easy to lead, but difficult to drive; easy to govern, but impossible to enslave,” remarks Henry Peter, Lord Brougham. “The great aim of education is not knowledge but action,” declares Herbert Spencer.

Once upon a time, there was a boy who was discovered at the age of 12 being raised by a wolf. The boy had a remarkably high IQ. In three years, he made it through grade school and high school. Two years later, he graduated from college with highest honors in nuclear physics. He was destined for an extremely brilliant future – but he was killed one day trying to bite the tires of a speeding car.

Sydney Harris advices, “What you learn with just the mind is quickly forgotten; what you learn when you are so emotionally involved remains imprinted in the nervous system; and the first task of education is involvement, not mere learning.”

However, it doesn’t mean that if you have don’t have a college diploma; you won’t be successful at all. In fact, I have known some famous people who were high school dropouts but still became successful in their chosen careers. Hollywood stars Al Pacino, Cary Grant, Ellen Burstyn, and Tracey Ullman come to mind.

Others in the same category were Richard Avedon (photographer), Amadeo Peter Giannini (founder of the Bank of America), Peter Jennings (newscaster), Billy Joel (singer/songwriter), John Major (British prime minister), Herman Melville (author), James Naismith (inventor of basketball), Wayne Newton (singer), Arnold Schonberg (composer), Leon Uris (author), and Lawrence Welk (bandleader).

In the Philippines, I can think of the late filmmaker Lino Brocka. Although he quit college, it did not stop him to pursue his ambition: to direct some of the country’s high-caliber movies. In 1985, he was chosen as one of the five recipients of the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award.

To be in school is supposed to be one of the most memorable moments in one’s life. But to some, it was not. Film actor Richard Chamberlain dreaded school because of his learning disability. It was not until in his late teens that he “learned the pleasures of study.” Singer/Actress Cher dropped out of school in the eleventh grade because she had a hard time reading (she could not read until she was eighteen).

There were others who were expelled from school. Comedian Richard Pryor was expelled from a Catholic grammar school in Peoria, Illinois, when the nuns discovered that his grandmother ran a string of brothels. Musician Roger Daltrey was expelled from Acton County Grammar School in England. “I was an evil little so-and-so,” he recalled. “I didn’t fit in.”

The things taught in schools and colleges are not an education, but the means of education,” reminds Ralph Waldo Emerson. A mother was having a hard time getting her son to go to school one morning. “Nobody likes me at school,” said the son. “The teachers don’t and the kids don’t. The superintendent wants to transfer me, the bus drivers hate me, the school board wants me to drop out, and the custodians have it in for me. I don’t want to go.”

You’ve got to go,” the mother insisted. “You’re healthy. You have a lot to learn. You’ve got something to offer others. You are a leader. Besides you are 42 years old. And you’re the principal.”

After four to five years in college, what comes next? Graduation, of course. But listen to the words of Orrin Hatch: “Graduation is not the end; it’s the beginning.” Arie Pencovici admits, “Graduation is only a concept. In real life every day you graduate. Graduation is a process that goes on until the last day of your life. If you can grasp that, you’ll make a difference.”

Now, here are some memorable lines from speeches delivered by some famous men from the past:

  • Henry David Thoreau: “I have learned this at least by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dream, and endeavors to live the life which he had imagines, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: “Dream no small dreams for they have no power to move the hearts of men.”

  • Brian Tracy: “All successful people men and women are big dreamers. They imagine what their future could be, ideal in every respect, and then they work every day toward their distant vision, that goal or purpose.”
  • William Arthur Ward: “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it.”
  • Anatole France: “To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.”
  • Wendy Wasserstein: “Don’t live down to expectations. Go out there and do something remarkable.”

But, on second thought, education is a never ending process. “The education of a man is never completed until he dies,” reminds Robert E. Lee. When asked how much educated men were superior to those uneducated, Aristotle answered, “As much as the living are to the dead.”

Clifton L. Hall explains, “It is easy – even natural – to think of education as something that ends when one finishes school, or graduates from college, or is decorated with a doctorate. But it might be nearer to the truth to say that real education begins when formal education ends. I frequently recommend books to graduate students ‘to be read when you stop taking courses and begin to get an education.’” — ###

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