Many of us consider the end of our formal schooling to be the end of our education. We leave school, begin our professional careers, and shift our focus away from learning.
But growth is a lifelong process, not limited to formal education. Our wisdom accumulates indirectly through life experience.
The development of our wisdom can be expedited and expanded by concomitant gains in knowledge. We can make more of what we know, and better understand our experiences.
If we wish to truly make the most of ourselves and maximize our potential, we should view learning as a lifelong process. It doesn’t matter whether that process is directed by an institution or by oneself.
There are inevitable reasons why formal schooling comes to an end.
For many, setting entire years aside to learn full-time only makes sense when they are young and at the beginning of their careers. Changing course is expensive and time-intensive; not all of us have the luxury of starting a new career later in life.
So, as our educational commitments draw near their end, we have to decide whether to renew them. Our decision can only be made in light of our current resources and circumstances, which themselves may be abundant and permissive or scarce and restrictive. There is always a question of return-on-investment to be considered.
Many people may need more time and experience to learn about themselves by the time they are forced to make a decision about their future. If they proceed, they risk their time and money on an education that may turn out to be of limited use or interest.
The level of risk depends on the resources and support available to the individual in question. If their financial resources are scarce, it may not make sense to risk these resources on an opulent education.
Those who do take the risk are highly incentivized not to change their program. If they do, their progress will be lost, their time and money wasted.
These individuals may be forced to continue on their trajectory towards a certain career path, even if they’ve long since realized that this path is of limited relevance to them. People change, and youth is a dangerous time to be making lifelong decisions.
Because of the cost and risk of formal education, there is a realistic limit on the amount of formal education that each of us can viably pursue.
Apples to Oranges
The inevitable end of our formal education, however, needn’t spell the end of our informal education. We have the good fortune of living in an age when literacy is widespread, and educational resources are broadly disseminated. We even have our choice of medium. Self-education, therefore, is flexible.
Contrast this with formal education. Formal education is generally meant to lead towards acquisition of a credential; however, it is not certain that the knowledge developed in pursuit of said credential will actually lead to any personal growth, or the development of true wisdom.
This is a consequence of the inflexibility of formal education. Those who seek a credential are required to follow the strict dictates of their program. They are required to take particular courses at a particular time.
When we self-educate, on the other hand, we set the structure. Since we are allowed complete freedom over the content and timing of our education, we can be assured of its value.
Its value, however, does not come in the form of a credential, so self-education cannot improve our earning potential in any direct way.
Instead, its value is in its enhancement of our wisdom. At any given stage in our lives, we gravitate towards that which complements the stage in question. We will naturally seek out information that satisfies our needs, curiosities, and questions.
In educating ourselves, therefore, we take an active role in developing the wisdom that we need to overcome our adversities, rather than passively waiting for life experience to teach us (often painful) lessons.
A Rewarding Challenge
Self-education demands little or no financial investment. Where it demands our time, it does so with total flexibility, and where it demands our interest, it allows us to choose its subject matter.
The only barrier to self-education is motivation. Formal education offers us the structure of deadlines and the support of a community. Self-education does not.
Overcoming this barrier requires us to consider the value of our education, as well as the value of ourselves. This is why self-respect is so valuable: if we don’t consider ourselves a worthwhile investment, we won’t bother investing in ourselves.
Those of us who wish to make the most of our lives must take their education into their own hands. We must become the architects of our own support systems and incentives.
In doing so, we become the architects of our own minds, and the authors of our own life stories.
The goal of Superspective is to provide a support system and to encourage introspection; when we use these tools to self-actualize, we can each contribute to the world in our own unique way. See more of what Superspective has to offer at superspective.org
How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.