“Education is only a ladder to gather fruit from the tree of knowledge, not the fruit itself.” ~ Attributed to Einstein
What is education? Does it differ from 'schooling' and 'learning'? Is education itself an end or a means to the end?
There are many questions that come up in the discussion and dissection of education. To set up a definition of this word, let us look at its etymology. Educate: circa mid 15th century. From the Latin pp educare 'bring up, rear, educate,' which is related to educere 'bring out, lead forth'...
"To bring out or lead forth from what exactly?" one might ask. Good question. It has been presented to me by Hillsdale College professor, Michael Bauman, that to educate means 'to bring one out of ignorance'.
Educate has changed in meaning over the course of time. While in one sense it still means 'to lead one out of ignorance', it now also means 'formal learning at a college or university'. This could also be called 'information gathering'. Due to this more modern idea of education it is little wonder that statements like the following have been made:
“I've never let my school interfere with my education.” ~ Mark Twain
“The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.” ~ Einstein
“My education was interrupted only by my schooling” ~ Winston Churchill
Though different words are used, the same idea is conveyed - formal teaching or 'information gathering' can actually get in the way of being led out of ignorance. Often it is the character of a teacher, mentor, family member, or friend that really changes the way we view life, the way we live.
Do not misunderstand me. There is much to be said for learning one-on-one with a tutor and writing one or two papers a week for eight weeks. There is something to be said for the American style of learning through lectures and classroom discussions. However, there is also much to be said for reading, pondering, and thinking things through at one's own desk or kitchen table. There is something great to be said for learning lessons by observing a person's character; from conversations; from looking into the eyes of the homeless; from being still and letting the words of the Magnificat, Nunc Dimittis, Lord's prayer, Confession, and Creed pour over your soul during evensong.
Life is so much bigger and richer than merely the classroom, or books by themselves, or even the inside of a chapel. If we allow God to be our Tutor and all the facets of life to be the books, classroom, and hands-on 'lab-work' as-it-were, we could have no better education - full stop.
When we are thus educated we will find that education itself is not the goal, but it is the process by which we become more fully alive, truly human. It leads us to be able to glorify God -because He has allowed us to know Him- and to enjoy Him forever, which is the fruit of life itself.