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Thankfully today’s question/subject in my 30 Day Challenge does at least seem a little more interesting or involved than yesterday’s one in my opinion.

The question/subject that I am asked to consider today is…

How important you think education is?”

Well let me start to answer this question by nailing my colors to the mast by including the graphic to the right here.

As a Christian, my faith is core to who I am and thus core to my perspectives and beliefs.

So it is will not surprise anyone perhaps that these will be a part of or influence my answer in some way.

But that having been said, I would ask that regardless of your own personal faith based beliefs (or lack of if you choose not to have them) you still read this post and still share your feedback and opinions on it.  I really am interested in everyone’s viewpoint on this subject.

So, the above having been said, I think an interesting consideration here would be what do you mean by “education”?

By that I mean that I wonder how many folk reading that question immediately thought of school, high school, college or university?  But is that education or is that academia?

And I ask that by way of the whole all goldfish are fish but not all fish are goldfish consideration.  Academia is of course part of education but it isn’t all of education.

For me, education is the responsibility of one and all in respect of both its provision and its obtaining.

The Free Dictionary defines education as being…

1. The act or process of educating or being educated.

2. The knowledge or skill obtained or developed by a learning process.

3. A program of instruction of a specified kind or level: driver education; a college education.

4. The field of study that is concerned with the pedagogy of teaching and learning.

5. An instructive or enlightening experience: Her work in the inner city was a real education.

So how about we consider our answer to the question in respect of each of these…

1. The act or process of educating or being educated.

Doesn’t this begin long before any we ever set foot into a recognized centre of academia?  Doesn’t this happen, generally speaking, from the moment that we are born?

 Indeed are we not hard-wired, is life itself not designed in such a way, our survival dependent upon our ability to learn?

Do we as children not instinctively learn where our food, nurturing, protection comes from?

And by the same token do parents not teach their children right from wrong, safe from unsafe etc?

Right from our very birth, or certainly shortly thereafter, we enter into a process of being educated, both by our parents educating us, life educating us, and indeed whilst we may not fully know or understand it at the time, our educating ourselves.

And indeed isn’t this covered by our next definition…

2. The knowledge or skill obtained or developed by a learning process.

Isn’t this what we have already been discussing and doesn’t it, shouldn’t it, go on beyond childhood and both during and after childhood/youth also outside of academia?

As a Christian and a Christian parent I have to admit that this is something that I am extremely mindful of.  I truly believe that academia based education has its place.  (I am sure that readers of this blog will find my being of this opinion no surprise whatsoever.) But it is, in my opinion, only part of our whole education needs.

Likewise where does it say that our “education needs” focus only or mainly on those years of our childhood and youth?  Shouldn’t we be continually learning?

As I said this is something that I, as both a Christian parent and as a Christian, am extremely mindful of.  I absolutely love teaching my children (of all ages – under 18 and over 18) new things and I love it when we learn new things together or they teach me.  And that applies both in respect of academia, faith and life in general.

Why?  Because I absolutely believe that we are meant to grow and develop and I absolutely believe that this should be a continual process.  Let me explain by sharing a statement with you that I came up with some time ago…

“True education is not stepping out towards an anticipated end. It is continually stepping out in anticipation that there is no end.”

(Which is incidentally well worth thinking about when it comes to faith)

Which brings us to our next two definitions…

3. A program of instruction of a specified kind or level: driver education; a college education.

&

4. The field of study that is concerned with the pedagogy of teaching and learning.

Here in 3 we really are beginning to enter the realm of academia, and albeit not exclusively, I have linked this and the next one (4) together because whilst pedagogy should not exclusively be academia focused it is I believe usually thought of in this way within modern society.

Which again ties in with my previous comment and my quote in as much as I am a firm believer that generally speaking education systems (and certainly our education system prior to college or university level) are not designed to equip our young people for life or even a career after academia but to simply pass exams and qualifications.

Illustration by Satoshi-Kambayashi courtesy of The Guardian

Admittedly those exams and qualifications in the upper levels will aid finding employment, but what about those who aren’t in those levels?

I think one of the problems is, in my opinion that we all too often compartmentalize things as a race. Academia is one compartment. Parenting another. Careers and employment another. Heath another.  Mental Health another. Family another. Faith, religious belief, religious tolerance another.

And having got those compartments we have to ask just how much those compartments cross over or link?

Sadly, I would suggest. not enough. Yes careers and employment feature slightly in the academic system’s presentation but how much?

Likewise just how much do parents and teachers truly come together and work together for the benefit of the child?  Isn’t it true that still, even today, all too often school teachers consider themselves to be seen as the daytime “child minder” and parents view education (except perhaps for homework) as being a daytime thing and the responsibility of the teachers and school system?

And again the question has to be asked I think, how much health and mental health education features within the school system’s presentation.  Likewise how much is family a feature?

And then there is the whole question of faith, religious belief and religious tolerance – how much do they feature – especially in an education system which in an effort for ‘political correctness’ removes the rights of a child to practice the very beliefs which they may have?

Which I think brings me neatly to our last definition…

5. An instructive or enlightening experience.

If education is to be instructive and enlightening, we have to ask about the level or scope of that instruction and indeed how enlightening an experience it truly is?

Education, as I have already suggested, is, in my opinion, the responsibility of one and all.  It should be instructive and enlightening and what is more it should, in my opinion, be inspiring.

But is it? Or is it more often than not simply a chore and in many ways sadly soul-destroying?  And I say that not as someone who struggled with school or education, actually someone who enjoyed it.  But even so I was not blind to what others were experiencing and what was going on around me.

When education is completely or mainly geared around achieving certificates, and keeping education centres high in the ranking or league table rather than the needs of and benefits to the child or young person?  Indeed how enlightening or inspiring is it when it seems to limit the whole benefit of experiencing? Isn’t there something wrong there?  After all, isn’t the last word in this final definition “experience”?

I am no teacher and certainly whilst teaching and educating featured as part of my professional career I do not consider myself to be an expert in this.   But I really do feel passionately about this and would very much like your feedback/views on what I am sharing here.

Earlier I spoke about compartmentalization and how I see it being a main feature in how we often see or do things as a race.  I am convinced that we are spiritual beings and that our approach in all things should consider the mind, body and spirit.

Therefore, as a Christian I am convinced that the education we afford ourselves and our children should go beyond academia and that academia, like political correctness, should never hinder our mental, physical, or spiritual education.

We talked in our last definition about instruction and enlightenment and I have to ask, “How instructive, how enlightening, is it, when a young person is prohibited from practicing the very belief system that for example his or her own country is supposed to have been founded upon and/or that his or her own family – those folk who are closest to his or her heart – believe in?

Trust me this is a very real and very present danger in America (and other places) right now.

Ask yourself this question if you will, (and I both apologize for any offense this question may cause and understand that it is shaped by my own personal beliefs)…

“How instructive is it when a young person is asked to stand with his or her hand on their heart and believe in and sing the National Anthem/Star Spangled Banner which ends with the words…”O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!” only to then be penalized when he or he tries to enjoy that freedom by (for example) saying grace before eating or praying before an exam?

IF education is to be instructive, enlightening, inspiring, how then can we allow it to be so narrow, so limited, and so blinkered?

How important you think education is?” Incredibly important! …

Far more important than qualification targeting or league tables fixations.

Far more important than just to be about academia.

Far more important than allowing ourselves to compartmentalize it into separate individual unlinked sections.

Far more important than allowing ourselves to compartmentalize it into “someone else’s responsibility” or “just for someone else”

Far more important than just to be about this world or this life.

And therefore not as important as learning!

For me, learning has to be far more important than education and no-one’s learning nor their education should be narrowed, limited or blinkered.

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