Discovering Your Ignorance – Education #5

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Knowing Everything

Ever notice how a person who has just learned something new about a topic is often very adamant that they have learned everything about that topic? I see it happen often in young people BUT it really has no age. I see it in myself and I am not a spring chicken. I am less like this now than when I was young, but there are so many topics and so much to learn that it never completely goes away.

Knowing a New Everything

For example, I became a Christian at age 21 and I will have you know I knew everything about it in short order.  Fast forward 30+ years and after a long intellectual and spiritual journey I decided I was still a Christian, but was now a Christian Atheist. What does that mean? It means I no longer believed in the existence of spirit beings but I believed in the teachings of Jesus on how to live in this world.  I will have you know I knew everything about it.

Unknowing Everything

Fast forward another 10 years and now I am a Christian Agnostic.  What does that mean? It means I still believe in the teaching of Jesus on how to live in this world but I have studied enough about science to realize that the discoveries science has made in almost every field would have been so unbelievable just 20-100 years ago as to be claimed as preposterously absurd.  That tells me the mysteries still out there are also preposterously absurd according to our present understanding of things and might change our understanding all over again.

Peaceful Unknowing

What that means for me is that while I don’t see direct evidence of spirit beings and I don’t see direct evidence of of a God, especially a traditional God that has his/her fingers in the human pie on a minute by minute basis, I just know there is too much we don’t know for me to say it definitely.  And that put me in the most peaceful place I can be in, a place where I am open to learn and not threatened by new ideas in any area.

Coda: Dark Matter

If you are wondering what exactly it is in scientific ideas of recent years that makes me say all this, simply look up ‘Dark Matter’ and try to wrap your head around what it is.  That should convince you.  The book ‘Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs’ is a good book to read if you are willing to dive deep into it.


Drawing and commentary © 2016 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com

Quote by Will Durant, 1885-1981, American Author. His most famous contribution was the 11 volume ‘Story of Civilization’ written with his wife, Ariel Durant.


 

Life Itself – Education #4

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Here are 10 things you aren’t likely to learn in school.

  • How to wash dishes.
  • How to grow old.
  • How to raise kids.
  • How to be broken hearted.
  • How to buy insurance.
  • How to retire.
  • How to lose weight.
  • How to go broke.
  • How to communicate.
  • How to be silent.

What else would you add to this list?


Drawing and commentary © 2016 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com

Quote by John Dewey, 1859-1952, American educator and reformer


 

Beyond Schooling – Education #3

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Purpose of School

School, as wonderful as it can be, has a purpose. And it isn’t to make you educated. It’s to make you educated so you will be a contributing member of our society.  That means so you can hold a job that contributes, or start a company that contributes.  Some schools also want you educated in such a way that you are a positive influence in society. At least according to that society. That might mean you are a good consumer, or give to charity, or compete well on the athletic field.

In other words, the education want to educate you to fit in. And I don’t think that is that bad a thing. I don’t mind fitting in somewhat.

Purpose of Education

But fitting in has it’s limits.  If your goal is to only fit in then a good schooling works well for you and for your society. BUT if you want to  expand beyond that fit, then you need to be educated beyond school.  You need to keep learning on your own.  Because learning on your own is how you will reshape your society for the better. It’s how you will challenge and change worn out traditions and prejudices. It’s how you will illuminate and bring to fruition new visions of art, science, nature, ideas, morality, spirit, and more.

Purpose of You

Your purpose is not just to fit in.  Your purpose is to become you.  Part of you will fit in, and that is good. But another part, no matter how small or large, should aspire to break those bonds. That part of you should work to learn as much as you can in whatever area you want, apart from society’s purpose for you.

Because if you do that, you will not just fit in to society, you will at the same time shape it into something better, something that says you have been here.  That is a good thing.


Drawing and commentary © 2016 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com

Quote by Mark Twain, 1835 – 1910, American Humorist


 

The Stupidity of the Educated – Education #2

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Educated vs Educated

I get annoyed when ‘college educated’ becomes confused with ‘educated’.  There are many people who have gone to college and graduated, and they are rightly classified as ‘college educated’. But does that mean they are actually educated in the broader sense?  I think there is a strong case to be made that that might not be the case for a good portion of those graduates.

I know this makes me sound like some sort of elite education snob. Guess what? I am an elite education snob. I believe in a full and complete, well-rounded, broadly general and inclusive education. I don’t believe college should just be a ‘major factory’ for business or jobs. For us to have a great civilization it also should be, it needs to be, a incubator for intellectual development and critical thinking in the classic disciplines of a liberal education.

Don’t be fooled though, when I say ‘liberal’ I am not talking about it in the political or social sense. It has nothing to do with liberal vs conservative. I am talking about it’s meaning in education, which is specific. It means a broad based, well-rounded education in multiple disciplines.

Ongoing

But, the argument may be given, you can only learn so much in 4-5 years of college. And you do need to think about it having some practical reasons behind all that money and time being put into it.  I agree with that.  That is one reason why, even if you have the best liberal education possible, it isn’t enough.  It isn’t enough for one very important reason. Proper learning in college should always have as one of its main outcomes the realization that what you know now is not complete.  There will be new discoveries in science, art, math, politics, environment, religion, philosophy and more. The education of the world does not stop when you get your diploma and neither should yours.

A Proposal

I have had this idea for a while. I propose there be college after college.  I don’t mean ongoing education to get mastery in a specific skill or area. I mean tune ups of ideas and information.  I mean going back to relearn and expand what you learned way back when. And to add in new areas where you never learned anything in the first place.

And not only that, but I propose we have another graduation later in life. Perhaps every 10-12 years or so.  32, 42, 52?  Or maybe 28, 38, 48, etc.?  I like the idea of continuing those traditional transitions of our youth into rituals in adulthood as well.  I am not sure of the details, but I like the idea.


Drawing and commentary © 2016 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com

Quote by Will Rogers, 1879 – 1935, American Humorist


 

The Engine of Curiosity – Education #1

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Home Schooling

When our daughter’s were young we home schooled them for 3 years.  For the youngest, Chelsea, it was Kindergarten through 2nd grade, Connie it was 1st – 3rd, and Rebekah it was 3rd – 5th.  We didn’t do it for religious reasons, even though we were within a church that had a lot of home schooling families.  We did it primarily because we could.  My wife at the time, Kathy, was a teacher and, after seeing so many others in the church do it, decided she could do it too. This took a lot for her since she was up until then not a very confident person.  But she believed it and we did it. It was a great time for our family and our kids. It was wonderful in many ways but the way that was most important in my children’s life was this:  There was no idea of school is where you get educated and home is not.  On the contrary, everywhere is where you got educated. Home, street, groups, books, church, museums, nature, grandparents, etc. It didn’t matter where you were, you were learning.

Curiosity

And that all-inclusive idea of education was driven by curiosity.  If you are learning about science in your back yard while checking out bugs, then it’s very likely you will always be curious about the bugs in your backyard.  If you are learning about the history from your Grandfather who fought in WWII then very likely  you will always be curious about the lives older people have lived.  If you are learning about art from your dad, seeing him working in his studio every day, then you are likely to be curious about creativity in others for the rest of your life.  Curiosity is the engine.

Around The Bend

So, does that mean you or your kids have to have been home schooled to be life-long learners? Of course not. Home schooling was just a part of my daughter’s upbringing that contributed.  Just as important was the example their mother and I set by being curious and willing to explore well after our formal education was over.  And all that really was was an enthusiastic curiosity about what was around the bend.  Instead of fear of the unknown I tried to instill in them a curiosity of it.

Not Reckless

Of course, that isn’t the same as being reckless or stupid.  One needs critical thinking skills, good judgment and wisdom, but those things don’t preclude being curious about life. They just allow your curiosity to proceed with a modicum of safety is all.

I encourage you to embrace your curiosity about life, don’t be afraid of it.  It is much better to fear a life not lived then one that has been lived to the max, right?


Drawing and commentary © 2016 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com

Quote is anonymous with many variations from multiple sources


“Curiosity is the engine driving a good education”

Education is What Remains – updated 2017

Quote is by Albert Einstein. Enough said.

Ok, not enough said. In honor of students going back to school and college I am presenting a napkin about the end of school. I do this so you who are taking care of these students will keep in mind throughout the year that they are learning school stuff and they are learning life stuff. You are teaching them both whether you realize it or not.

Realize it.

Drawing © Marty Coleman

“Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.”

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