photo & copy by Michael Jastremski for CC:Attribution-ShareAlike

Photo by Michael Jastremski for CC:Attribution-ShareAlike

The basic definition of education is “the acquisition of knowledge.” The problem with a formal education is that the knowledge is to often learned and then rarely applied for years. No wonder many students get bored.  And, with a formal education, we are generally taught to acquire facts, but often we are not even taught when those facts should be applied.

For example, I heard a math teacher once say most people have no idea how to apply the skills they learn in math class to the real world.  Students are usually taught how to solve mathematical equations, but not when they will need those.  His solution was to give lots of story problems related to the new skills the students were using that involved real life problems.

I had the most wonderful weekend.  I spent three wonderful days in the presence of some of the most incredible success coaches in the world.  Craig,  our son Austin, and I  attended a conference in Las Vegas where we listened to some incredible speakers.  We learned from Brian Tracy, Hyrum Smith, Dan CaroRudy Ruettiger, Marsha Petrie Sue, Garrett Gunderson, and John Gray, and many others.

As I was sitting there I felt so blessed because we were receiving relevant and up-to-date information that I could put into my life nearly that instant. Information that, if applied, could alter my life, and the lives of my children forever.

And I couldn’t help pondering the purpose of education…

Certainly, at this point in my life the primary goal of education is to receive actionable knowledge, to learn skills that can improve my life now. To me the basic purpose of education is to solve life’s problems.

But what about formal education?

What if it was approached in nearly the same way?

Certainly all  skills can’t be applied immediately, because skills often build upon other skills.  Knowledge builds upon previous knowledge. But certainly more skills could be taught, along with that knowledge, that could be applied sooner.

Imagine what could be accomplished if teachers were concerned more about teaching the skills that could maximize the full capacity of each student, and how to apply those skills in real life.

For example, if rather than teaching history simply as a a story, or facts about people in the past, all teachers taught it from the frame-of-view of:

  • What can we learn from this story?
  • What can we learn that will help us to not make the same mistakes?
  • What can we learn that can help us achieve great results?
  • What character traits did this person in history have that led him or her to achieve what they achieved?
  • What mistakes did this person make and what were the results of those mistakes?

So what do you think?

  1. What do you think the purpose of education is?
  2. How has the way you approach education changed over the years?
  3. What educational methods have worked for you?

Here’s a few thoughts to contemplate…

“The only purpose of education is to teach a student how to live his life-by developing his mind and equipping him to deal with reality. The training he needs is theoretical, i.e., conceptual. He has to be taught to think, to understand, to integrate, to prove. He has to be taught the essentials of the knowledge discovered in the past-and he has to be equipped to acquire further knowledge by his own effort.” ~ Ann Rynd

“The one real object of education is to leave a man in the condition of continually asking questions.” ~Bishop Creighton

“The object of education isn’t knowledge, it’s action.” ~ Thomas Kempis

“The aim of education should be to teach us rather how to think, than what to think—rather to improve our minds, so as to enable us to think for ourselves, than to load the memory with the thoughts of other men.” ~Bill Beattie

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