I watch my uncle as he struggles to type an email to an old friend, trying to remember grammar rules and where exactly a comma appears in a sentence. I watch this man, who has a PhD in literature and graduated at the top of his class before immigrating to Canada, try to string together a sentence that my thirteen-year old sister could type in the blink of an eye. I watch him, and begin to wonder about education, knowledge, and the complex relationship they share.
To me, education is not only what we learn while sitting in our desks at school, but every minute experience we have from the moment we take our first breath. We start out as a blank canvas and watch as every experience paints us in a new way, until we become what we have lived. Our mother’s words about being compassionate educate us, our father’s anger over an adolescent mistake educates us, our childhood friend’s advice on a relationship educates us. Even after twenty years of our life has been spent copying down notes and studying for assessments that seems to singlehandedly decide our future, we have been educated just as much from the conversations around us and the practical mistakes we have made. To be well-educated, however, is not merely to learn. To be well-educated is to think critically, to implement our learning into our actions. It is to take the problems that surround us and minimize them to the formulas and principles that occupy our restless minds. knowledge, our experiences, our mistakes To be well-educated is to ignite the flame of education in those who surround us, so that it may become a raging fire that embraces every corner of the world.
Education is a life-long, unending journey. It is the realization that we can never completely extinguish the thirst for more, that there is never enough to know. As we answer one question that encompasses our hearts and our minds, a thousand more emerge. It is a cycle – vicious, selfish, always wanting more. Even as we are withered and worn down and bursting, every new day presents us with limitless possibilities. It is this vast, infinite understanding of knowledge that makes us wise and opens us up to boundless learning.