Education and Knowledge

Education comes from ‘educate’. Knowledge comes from ‘know’. The word ‘educate’ has this connotation that implies that the information is being imposed upon. Something is being forced. The agency is external. When we think about the word ‘know’, it implies that information is either experienced first-hand or that it has been garnered after internal deliberation and reflection. There is a certitude about knowledge. Education does not.

Schools are good at providing education. Tests are good for checking if a student was properly educated or not. This has nothing to do with knowledge. Knowledge can only be tested in the real world while living one’s life.

I have seen many people complain about the school education. They say that the school education did not prepare them for real life. It did not teach them the skills they needed to live. They do not realize that schools were never meant to teach them how to live. To be honest, I think it is impossible to teach this. There are multiple reasons for this, but the most fundamental reason is that the teacher himself does not usually have lived his life properly. He himself does not have the experiences that he could even attempt to impart upon the students.

Education helps one to live a life by earning a living doing some work while knowledge helps one to be alive. When we look back at the time we spent in classrooms, during those time we learn the skills needed to do something, usually for others. Later, in life, while reading a comment in an internet forum, or while having a conversation with a neighbor or even while just trying to figure out a problem with the kids, we realize the futility of those skills to live a good life. While, because of the degree granted by the schools, we were able to get a leg up in the career, the information collected in those classrooms do not mean anything in life. The irony is that the information does not mean anything even in the career. I sometimes wonder how much I would have been able to learn if I had just gone on my own.

Every skill that is needed to live a good life is garnered one-by-one by means of experiences, failures, interactions, and reflection. We must acquire those skills from within. And we must acquire them ourselves. Just like another person cannot live my life, another person cannot also teach me how to live my life. They might try to tell me their experiences. They might try to provide guidance and pointers. But until I can internalize and make those experiences my own, I will not be able to understand what they meant. Just like a person cannot describe how sugar tastes like to another person who has never tasted it. It is good that people still try. Description of those experiences becomes helpful when I actually experience the same myself. I will know at that time that I am not alone. I will know that there were other people who had also experienced the same. I will know exactly how they felt when they experienced that something. That is knowledge.

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