What does education mean to you?

A few weeks ago, right at the beginning of May, my co-teacher asked me an interesting question. She asked what education means to me. I told her that this was quite a complex question, and that there wasn’t really an easy answer. She then asked me to write out a page-long essay under the heading of this blog post. Today, I was sorting through folders, and I came across the essay I’d written. I remember that she was really impressed with it, and as I’m on a blogging mission, I thought I’d share it with you. Enjoy!

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What does education mean to you?

~ By L.J.

Before explaining what education means to me, I’d like to define what I understand under the term “education”. I understand education to be a process where a person gains knowledge – academic knowledge, as well as other knowledge, such as morals, values, reasoning, judgement and maturity. Education is important for both professional and personal development.

When I think about my own education, I don’t only think about the facts that I have learned. I also think about the experiences I had, the friends I made, the teachers and lecturers who inspired me, and the lessons I learned through making my own decisions and mistakes.

Education should be about exploring, and not only about getting a degree and finding a job. If you only focus on the monetary reward of an education, you won’t necessarily be happy, and you’ll lose out on so many rich experiences.

I never did particularly well academically, but I enjoyed my entire education. At school, I tried many different things, like sports and cultural activities, and I am thankful that my parents never put pressure on me to be the best at everything. They were happy that I was enjoying the experience and that I was a happy, healthy student.

At university, my coursework often inspired me to do research into other topics that were related to my coursework, but not necessary. I learned many new things this way. I enjoyed the course I was studying, and when I graduated with my Bachelors degree, my parents gave me the choice to either study further or do something else. I chose to do my Honours degree, as I was enjoying studying and developing myself in the process.

Since graduating in 2006, I completed a course or studied part-time every second year. Last year I finished my teaching certification. Now I am qualified to pursue two different careers, but I am not pressured to do so yet. My qualifications are in the fields of psychology and education, which are interrelated in many ways, and greatly support each other regardless of which career path I choose to follow.

At the moment, though, I am working overseas, which is a whole different type of education. I am learning how to live in another country with a completely different culture. I am learning a new language and I am learning how to be away from my family and friends and how to look after myself. This part of my education is just as important to me as the education I got at university.

When thinking about an education, one must not forget about the education offered by life itself. We learn so much from day to day. Things like how to be polite and respectable, how to relate to people, how to be a good member of society and related things cannot be taught at a university, but they are also very important. Even people who cannot go to school, or who never get to travel, can get an education in this way.

A formal education is not the only thing that can help build a person’s career. It is helpful to get you started, especially if there is a lot of competition within the career that you have chosen, but hard work and critical thinking can also help you advance in your job.

What does education mean to me? It means quite a lot. It is very important, and no-one can survive in the world without an education, but this doesn’t only mean formal study. Every single thing that a person learns is a part of his or her education.

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