By Praise Moses
Some time ago, a person asked me a somewhat tricky question; “what is the essence of your education?”. This was rather unexpected that, at that exact moment, I had no self-satisfied answer (or maybe I didn’t know what the true essence of education really was) to give.
Afterwards, I decided to carry out research and do some deep reflections such that the next time I’m asked that question, I’ll be very ready to tackle it head-on.
So while I was having my sensible head on and gathering interesting information on why my education, or anybody else’s for that matter, is very important, I realized that the education process, no matter how badly it must have been done, cannot be conveniently overlooked. You often hear people disregard the education system, especially that in Nigeria, as a scam because of its supposed inability to, in some people’s words, “bring money in” or provide one with a comfortable life after school.
Regardless, no matter how education must have failed you badly in your experience, you cannot deny the fact that you have, in one way or another, been exposed to different things; new and diverse ideas, perspectives and opinions about life. Maybe you are in school because of the money you’ll earn from having a degree at the end of the day (like a friend once told me she was) or you were actually forced by your parents, having the knowledge of why you are in school will invariably help you avoid embarrassing situations like the one I had with that person and also help you to tackle questions like this head-on whenever the opportunities arise.
However, before you can understand what the true essence of education is, you must first understand, what exactly, true education is. It is a fact that education is a fairly elusive concept that many people would define differently, giving their subjective interpretations of what they understand by the word, “education”. Nevertheless, there are still some universal interpretations of the term, of which many cannot but agree.
Presently, in our society and every other society at that, education, along with medical care and security, is ranked the most significant aspect of life. This shows that everyone is already familiar with the concept. Even in our everyday life, words like, “educate”, “learn”, “teach” and so on, cannot be totally avoided. Yet, many people still remain fairly ignorant of the true meaning of the word, “education”. So, to make it easy for those who don’t have a clear idea of what true education is, I feel a definition from the popular online resource, Wikipedia, beautifully captures the exact meaning of this rather difficult-to-define term.
Education, according to Wiki, “is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits…
Education can take place in formal or informal settings and any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts may be considered educational.
”The great philosopher, Aristotle, also defines true education as “the process of training man to fulfil his aim by exercising all the faculties to the fullest extent as a member of society”.
Socrates, another great thinker, says education means “the bringing out of the ideas of universal validity which are latent in the mind of every man”.From these definitions, we must now understand that education doesn’t have to be in a school setting or within four walls. Education doesn’t even have to be a conscious effort; you can always learn anywhere and anytime, consciously or unconsciously. The most important type of education, however, for every individual and even society at large, is the institutional type and this is the one youths are always quick to label as a “scam” or “sham”. Often citing the examples of American billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and the likes, who are school drop-outs, students often like to say they apparently don’t need the education after all, since school drop-outs like the ones mentioned above were able to gather wealth and also impact the world without having to go through the formal educational process or processes. What these people don’t know, or seem to ignore, is the fact that Mark, at the age of 8 (a guess), had started coding. A writer, Jose Antonio Vargas, even said that while Mark’s agemates were playing games (as it was a very common thing at that time), he was busy building his. Apparently, Mark’s education started earlier than normal, hence the need for his early school drop-out in the second year of his time in Harvard, one of the best and most expensive schools in the world. Mark was said to have even dropped out to complete a project, a project that would later push him up the ladder of the most influential people in the world.
Education, no matter the process of application, is very important. I remember walking to my first class in OAU a young, ignorant wimp. Now, I am a graduate, with a lot more confidence and enlightenment than I had in my first year. Thanks to the people I met and the experience I had while on the campus, I am now more exposed than I used to be to the realities of human life. All these, the exposure, confidence, deep insights and so on, were not directly taught to us by our lecturers in school.
However, many of us were able to develop them as a result of our direct exposure to a diversity of opinions on gender, religion, economy, and the likes. It is on campus, without conscious impartation or lectures that you learn tolerance, reservedness, sacrifice, conservation and management. And all these, without any academic work are enough essence for one’s education. So, what is the essence of my education? It is the fact that I can now face the crowd and share my views. It is the fact that I can now tolerate my neighbours even with their many flaws. Consequently, it is the fact that I now understand what humanity is; “the bringing out and combination of individual ideas for universal validity”.