I recently came across this video of a commencement speech given by David Foster Wallace in 2005, and one of my favorite parts I’ll sum up as “real education is about awareness”.
What is Real Education?
I used to think a real education was about getting good grades in school, then continuing on to college or university.
I don’t believe that anymore.
Sure, I think education is extremely important.
I just don’t see it the same way anymore.
I think a real education is more about exploring, discovering, and awareness, and less about memorization and regurgitation which is what our current system seems to revolve around.
As the father of 2 young children, I’ve really started to ponder how best to give them a “real education“.
My wife and I have considered home schooling as an option. The downside of that in our eyes, is the lack of social interaction. I know for me, even in a public school system my social skills weren’t as developed as I would have liked. We came from a small farming community, and my graduating class was only 20 people.
Most of the other kids in the school thought partying and getting drunk was the best thing to do every weekend, and I just wasn’t into that. So instead I hung out with a small circle of friends or stayed home. What I missed out on though, was learning how to interact in larger social settings. To this day, I’m not comfortable in networking events and tend to seek out someone I know to have a conversation with instead of meeting new people.
Can You Get A Real Education Outside The Traditional System?
As an entrepreneur, I see so many opportunities now that I had never considered in my school years, and it’s largely because it was so ingrained in us to get good grades to get a good job. I don’t ever remember hearing the option of starting your own business.
I think the traditional school system is designed to create good employees who follow directions and do what they’re told.
That’s just not for me.
And it’s not what I want for my kids either.
I love that we’ve found a school that shares some of my perspective. It has an entrepreneurial focus. They’ll be teaching the kids religions of the world, rather than just one, so they’ll be tolerant of others and have a more global view. They have a strong musical, arts and physical activities focus so kids can nurture their natural talents outside of academics.
I love the Einstein quote:
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
My fear is that my kids will end up in a classroom like this young man who’s video has gone viral. He has more passion for his education than the teacher is showing for providing it. That’s not the way to get a real education. A real education is interactive and experiential.
It’s because of situations like this that I have dedicated the last few years of my life creating the time and financial freedom to give our kids options.
To me a real education includes travel, exploration, discovery and experiences. That’s why I’ve created businesses that can be managed from a laptop. I’m not tied to a office or a desk.