On becoming educated

Found this fantastic piece by the good folks at DesignLuck. The author uses Issac Asimov’s life and hunger for knowledge as the base to support his point of view on why being truly educated in important.

I. Expand the boundaries of the imagination. We associate knowledge with non-fiction, but great fiction is perhaps an even greater container of wisdom. It shows us how the one-dimensional facts that we learn from history and science and philosophy blend together to operate in real life. Knowledge may give us a foundation and teach us to reason well, but it’s only the imagination that defines the boundaries of possibility.

I realized how important expanding the boundaries of imagination is. It’s alarming how conditioned our mind is to think of a piece of “fiction” as unproductive. At least that’s the way I used to think. And my life’s been pretty balanced since the time I’ve gotten back to reading fiction (not the pop kind but mostly literary fiction with some spy fiction every now and then).

II. Learn at the edge of your knowledge. To truly understand something, we have to throw away the crutches of jargon that often hold our knowledge up. The mark of an effective mind is clarity, and this kind of clarity takes a lot of work to get to. By teaching and playing at the peripheries of our understanding, we work our way closer.

And tell you what, I’ve met hundreds of people who would work hard to make everything look and sound harder than otherwise. Only the knowledgeable and wise would throw away the crutches of jargon and share clearly and wholly. That isn’t easy. In fact, the simplest explanation often is the hardest time spent. But it’s worth it. Always.

III. Respect the importance of self-education. There is no difference between becoming educated and self-educating. The former is always a product of the latter. Great teachers don’t give us facts to memorize. They instill a curiosity, a respect for learning, that ensures that whatever it is that is being taught gets absorbed naturally.

I’m a product of self-education. But I’ve also had the privilege of having great teachers who walked the mile with me to make me realize that I’m either on the wrong route or have to take the next turn towards my destination. I feel blessed each time I get to reflect on the opportunities I’ve had to educate myself or learn from these fantastic teachers. Had it been not for them, I would be cruising by my life. I surely wouldn’t be writing this post. Heck, this blog wouldn’t exist!

Perhaps it’s this knowledge of the power of education and how teachers shape our destinies is what prompted me to become a teacher (metaphorically) myself. As they say, I can either feed them a fish every day or teach them how to fish would feed them for a lifetime!

As you can see, getting truly educated is a journey that starts with stretching your imaginations and then towards seeking clarity to learn something new to finally teaching someone who can benefit from your knowledge.