I never let my schooling interfere with my education.


A wonderful education is a wonderful thing. The more we know, the more possibilities open up. The more we train our minds, the more we can do with them.

But sometimes education becomes schooling. It becomes about passing exams. It becomes about living up to teachers’, professors’, parents’ expectations. It becomes about knowing things for the sake of knowing things without any thought to how much value knowing those particular things might afford.

Worst of all, sometimes education becomes a target. A required checkpoint. A fixed point in time we can say ‘I’m done. I know what I need to know.’ We encourage this view with shiny bits of paper, fancy ceremonies and grade-quoting on our resumés.

But education doesn’t work like this. Life is a constant journey of learning new things. If we focus too much on achieving the next checkpoint, we lose the thrill of the journey along the way. We focus too much on jumping through hoops and forget that education is exploration, forging our own path, getting lost and found and lost and found again on the way. There’s no syllabus in life.

That’s not to say school or college courses don’t have any value. Far from it. All we have to remember is these courses are never about the end – the exams, the grades, the certificates, the graduation – but the experiences that help us get there.

Here’s Alan Watts — philosopher, speaker and writer — and his thoughts on education, with animation by Matt Stone and Trey Parker of South Park fame.