“To succeed, you will soon learn, as I did, the importance of a solid foundation in the basics of education – literacy, both verbal and numerical, and communication skills.”
I agree with education reformer Horace Mann that education is the great equalizer. Institutional education has a fundamental place in society, serving many purposes.
As Mann asserts, formal education can widen the options of the have-nots, providing more lucrative employment and networks that bring opportunity to pursue passions and business avenues one may not even have known she wanted to explore.
Formal education can also bring tools to the oppressed, arming them with reasoned argument, organization, and understanding of systems they seek to change.
Educational institutions also socialize us, positively and negatively. They give us one language and set of mores, reinforce myths that, on some level, are necessary for participants of a society to believe in.
With all this, it is easy to read the above Greenspan quote and view institutional education as a means to an end, to believe that once the formal expectations have been met, one has all the knowledge he needs to navigate his environment or, in fact, the world.
Good education, though—institutional and social—should be a door to appreciating and integrating experiences outside ourselves, to realizing the socialization brought by that foundation is a mold insufficient for every being.
Fruitful educational experience helps us understand that the fundamentals are a door, a starting point where true questions begin to be explored. It teaches us to think critically, question hard, and love the process of acquiring answers, handing to us the gift of curiosity and discernment.
Though we have the fundamentals, it is through these two things, that we build the character and integrity of our lives. Questioning brings value to our experience, whether we come back to that which we originally second-guessed (and cherish it all the more) or build a bridge to a new chapter in our lives.
Instead of a ride with an end, true education teaches us to appreciate journey.
“It is in fact nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom; without this it goes to wrack and ruin without fail.” –Albert Einstein
“Real education must ultimately be limited to men who insist on knowing, the rest is mere sheep-herding.” –Ezra Pound