Why Get an Education?

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We seem to agree that "an education" is important. But why? Why go through the trouble of being educated? Put another way: What is the purpose of education?

[For this post, I'm going to set aside the more basic questions of what is education, what makes a great education, and what are the best ways to acquire such an education.]

I suggest the purpose of education is to lay a foundation for everything you want to do. Want to be an astronaut? A mother? A baker? A banker? A banquet hall decorator? A missionary? An apologist? Nothing more ambitious than a good husband?

Cool. You need to know stuff. More than that, you need to know how to use the stuff you know. More than that, you need to know how to learn how to use stuff you don't yet know. ...hence all the talk about "life-long learning." We're never going to be masters of everything.

In the past, when I've shared this simple thesis, people have looked at me quizzically. "What about college or a job?" they ask. "That's why most people say you need an education."

Graduation Cap

"College is simply one step of many in the journey of learning," I tell them. "And your job hardly defines your life; it's only a part of it. There's so much more to what we do. We raise kids, volunteer, have hobbies, read, play games..."

More simply, the traditional "3Rs" exist so we can do basic "adulting," such as pay bills, do our jobs, and comprehend what's going on around us. But to really understand our current context, we must exceed the minimum. History helps inform how we think about the present. Science enables us to reach outside our personal experience and build things beyond our ancestors' imaginations. Math allows us to harness the interplay we observe in the universe. Within these broad categories, we delve into powerful topics of psychology, physics, politics, poetry, personal finance, and other impressive subjects that don't begin with a p.

That's why we don't stop at the fifth grade. That's why we don't quit when we graduate. That's why we explore electives. That's why we keep learning until the day we die... because if we are going to follow an infinite God where He's calling us, there's always going to be more to discover. Our children, our spouse, our world, our future are all far too wonderful and complex to "figure out" in our lifetime.

So why get an education? Because your very life will be enriched and you will be able to better enrich the lives of others and, thereby, give glory to God.

How's that for an answer?

Anything you'd like to add, include, or focus upon?

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Pseudo-Dad

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