I had gone to Khandala two days ago to be part of the faculty for an informal training programme for some middle level managers. During this programme I got to meet and get to know a few MBAs and was appalled at their approach to business which is quite different from what it was during my days in management. This led me to quote Robert Fulghum to them in a different context than I had originally planned to do. For a recap, let me reproduce the quote here.

“All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be, I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate-school mountain, but there in the sand pile at Sunday School. These are the things I learned. These are the things you already know: Share everything. Play fair. Don’t hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don’t take things that aren’t yours. Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.”

In my opinion that is getting an education. It is possible to be educated without being literate and / or qualified with some diploma or degree.

Again to quote a great spiritual teacher, Vivekananda on education so that where I intend going with this post becomes clear: “You will be nearer to Heaven through football than through the study of Gita. You will understand Gita better by your biceps, with your muscles a little stronger. You will understand the Upanishads better and the glory of the Atman, when your body stands firm on your feet and you feel yourself as a man.” The subtlety here may be difficult but to sum up his advice, be strong in body before you attempt to learn about matters spiritual.

I personally was an indifferent student in school quite content with getting the equivalent of what is now the “C” grades. I however had to write my School Leaving Certificate examinations twice before I could get the certificate which took me on a different tangent than my classmates in terms of formal education. You can read about that in the post on Ambition that I have written some years ago.

I however flatter myself that I am educated because I have learnt how to learn. And that in my opinion sums up what education is. At least in my opinion, it is not getting a degree or a PhD, but being smart enough to make a life on this planet. Let me share a short story.

I recently saw a short film in Kannada, one of our regional languages. The hero is an illiterate odd jobs man employed in a temple. The temple management terminates his employment to replace him with a literate man who can double as a clerk as well. Dejected, the hero by accident discovers an opportunity to be a businessman repairing punctured tubes of motorcycles, cars and bicycles. From that base, he grows into a tycoon producing and marketing large volumes of tyres and tubes. An interviewer asks him to imagine what he could have become if he had been literate and he responds – “A temple Clerk”.

You know why they don’t send donkeys to college?

Because no one likes a smartass.

Shackman has suggested this topic for the weekly LBC blog posts. You can see what the other writers of the LBC have to say in their respective blogs.  Maria, Pravin, Ashok and Shackman.

23 thoughts on “Education.”

  1. Good thoughts here. My father’s formal education stopped after the fourth grade (about age 10 for reference), yet he mastered a trade and ran a business that supported his immediate and extended family for many years. He also was a community leader, giving to good causes and serving in nonpaying government positions. His education truly was in “learning by living.”
    Gabbygeezer recently posted..Will Had Words For It

    1. Thanks for commenting Gabbygeezer. That is a remarkable story and over here you can find many such stories though the younger generations post mine have had better access to finance and education at least for the middle classes.

  2. Ramana, you know how dad was, and his favourite put down of me was “you can send a donkey to University, it will come back with a degree but it will still be a donkey”. When he last made that comment to me in Pune, I replied, “yes he will still be a donkey, but at least he will be educated” which was pointedly directed at him and he took offence. Of course, like you stated in the post, he was self educated and in terms of educated people he was as well informed as anyone else.

  3. The internet has made it easier to be educated today. And by ‘educated’, I don’t mean just gathering information and skills. There is vast opportunity to learn in a broad based way, to participate in discussion, to access a variety of ideas. There is also the opportunity to join free courses via Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC). So there are virtually no excuses left to be uneducated. Not everywhere, but in most areas of the world.

    1. Yes it has indeed. Some very powerful tools are now available online to educate oneself on just about any subject. Savvy individuals are using these to be one up on their colleagues at work. And that is the spirit that I wish to call education.

  4. I came out of school with nothing as such, no worthwhile piece of paper and certainly, apparently not material for further education. Instead I went to a type of private business school and got a semi-extra including the now apparently great touch typing skill…(1968) I skipped of the UK to live with an older sibling…saw a bit of the world, picked up odd jobs including touch typing. Found myself in w.australia and married what turned out to be a bad idea… I left him in the early 1990s and have not regretted that all.. but life didn’t go well in the health stakes for me, probably related to the huge stress he had caused (long boring story) so ….

    It was not until about 2005 that I had the chance to try higher education, most of you know that I got a BA at the princely age of 60! Since then I’ve tried to go further but now I’ve stopped as I realise I’ve had enough of writing gobblygook, deadlines and miles of trivia on subjects that seemed interesting in the course book!

    Now I’m content to explore my kind of art-making. Yes there are still deadlines but not on the level of the above… A vastly different kind of education – but one that makes me a goodly % happier 🙂

    1. As recently as just last year, I sought to enrol for a programme for doctoral studies in Business Management and found a tutor as well. I gave up the idea when I found that I would have to do a lot of leg work visiting various organisations in and around Pune. But the spirit of wanting to learn is what I call education which you have in abundant measure.

  5. I’m tertiary educated but my most important lessons have been in the school of life.

    My parents both attended school up to age 15 which was standard for their generation so in todays terms they are not well educated people but I know people who are far better educated but also many times more ignorant. I have never quite figured out how that happens. Is it life experience? is it because the less educated are more hungry to learn? or less arrogant? or is it due to curiosity or the lack thereof?

    1. I wouldn’t call your parents uneducated. Unqualified perhaps yes but most certainly not uneducated. And your going on about the ignorant educated people proves the point that I make. The latter usually are people who are either lazy or wealthy!

  6. when bob died everybody said… “oh you must go back to college now!”
    I did not want to do that and follow a curriculum chosen for me of what to study!
    I had had enough of living to know what I was interested in and I didn’t care about any letters after my name and a piece of paper attesting to those letters. not to mention a huge debt to pay for that piece of paper.

    I absolutely love what you’ve said here. kudos rummy! I think it’s the difference between knowledge and wisdom.
    “I have learnt how to learn. And that in my opinion sums up what education is. At least in my opinion, it is not getting a degree or a PhD, but being smart enough to make a life on this planet.”
    tammy j recently posted..moving on old bean

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