Saturday, September 1, 2012

School Or Self Study, Which is Better?

Remember when you knew it all? Those teachers and parents couldn't tell you a thing, could they?

I remember that time, when my mind held all the knowledge of the world, and I did whatever I wanted thinking my parents had no idea what I was up to. I also remember that big surprise when my parents proved me wrong - on more than one occasion.

I recall times when they gave me advise too. I didn't always accept that advise when they gave it, often to my later frustration, but one piece of advise from my father actually sank in, and I see that memory just like we were discussing the event right now.

Since I couldn't learn anything new (at least in my mind), I decided that school was wasting my time. I was a couple of months away from my 16th birthday, and I told dad about my plan to quit school.

I expected him to get mad and start yelling, but he sat at the kitchen table with me and asked me why I'd made that decision. And he listened to my reasons like he felt they held value. I believe that's the first time my father ever really listened to anything I said. I know it's the first time I recall him listening to me in a serious way.

When I finished he talked about two scenarios.

The first drew a picture of how my life would play if I quit school at 16. I'm sure you can imagine that picture. He showed me that, lacking a formal education; the only type of work I could hope for was a thing like flipping burgers in McDonald's or digging foundations so the carpenters could build on them. My fate included hot, backbreaking, repetitive work that promised a tiring and extremely mundane life.

His second scene showed my future as a college graduate. My father spent most of his working life in the electronics field. He talked me to visualizing myself sitting at a desk, designing complex electronic schematics to create equipment like computers, televisions, and avionic gear. The view gave the impression of highly paid, leisurely effort.

Guess which vision I held on to.

My father never attended a formal college, but after graduation from high school he continued his education with home correspondence courses. I watched him come home from work every evening, eat dinner, and then spend a few hours studying electronics. Every year I also realized that our quality of living improved because of those studies.

There's magic in education. The more you gather, the higher quality lifestyle you enjoy. I learned from my father that both a formal education and an informal education are necessary to your prosperous and comfortable future.

His informal education carried him through the levels of success he traveled during his electronic career.

But he always maintained that formal education has its place in all our lives. I remember him telling me once, "You need school so you'll know where to find the answers to the questions that stand in your way from time-to-time."

Your informal education gives you the knowledge and skills that lead you toward your fortunes, but that formal education gives you the ability to find the source of the knowledge and skill.

By acquiring that formal education you learn how to learn.

Joseph Jackson retired at the early age of 46, and now travels in his recreational vehicle, hitting scuba, camping, and kayaking destinations for playtime.

He enjoys writing reports and books to pass on his experience and knowledge to help others succeed. He also searches for, and makes available, products that improve the enjoyment of his playtime activities.

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