“My mother said I must always be intolerant of ignorance but understanding of illiteracy. That some people, unable to go to school, were more educated and more intelligent than college professors.”
If we were to look up for a definition of education, we would find a large number of famous and not-so-famous people defining education in their own terms. I tried to look for a definition and I chose Maya Angelou’s quote to begin this article with. There are number of reasons why I chose her. Angelou is an African American poet, who was subjected to severe racial discrimination and also had a troubled childhood. She had dropped out of school and became a single mother at the age of 17; right after she graduated high school. To support her son, she worked as a waitress and a cook. Today, Dr. Angelou is the recipient of over 50 honorary degrees and is Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University.
Education. The life of this incredible poet proves that it is not just acquiring a few degrees from some institution but the values and understanding of life that completes education in the true sense. The common man often understands education in terms of the formal education that a person receives from her childhood, but the term encompasses much more than what meets the eye. Education is not simply when a child learns how to read the alphabets and write wobbly letters on a blank paper. It is also when she learns to share her toys with others. It is when she learns not to throw away every little thing once she is done using it. Education is when an individual learns and gains knowledge irrespective of the source, for it helps her grow as a person.
Academics are just subjects; Science, Math, Geography, History…simply a part of education, through which we are introduced to the outer world. These subjects begin to mean something when they merge with our thoughts. Our thoughts which are formed by the workings of the society, the radical ideas and our experiences. THAT is education. It is an endless process that extends beyond the schools and universities that we have attended. Anyone can learn to read and write and memorize formulae, but to learn to see what is wrong and right is what education is all about. Education is not only about learning, but sometimes it means to unlearn. It means to unlearn what we had learnt in order to pave way for newer thoughts to seep in and let new ideas grow and change us.