Education, for many people, is one of the most important aspects of life. Knowledge and understanding allow people to function in society and to be successful in whatever they chose to do. Without education, we wouldn’t be able to do anything. Like hollow pods of nothingness, we would just sit there, staring at the floor. Kind of like most high school students do. And while you appreciate the irony of that last sentence, I’ll fill you in on what Mr. Twain is trying to tell us.
Lots of people go to school. Tons. Most kids go to high school and a great deal of those kids move on to college. People across the globe are sitting in classrooms, attempting to absorb the vital information that will allow them to get a good job, buy a nice house with a pool and a big backyard, and support kids of their own through their education. Education, for many, is a doorway to a successful and happy life.
Formal education is great. In school, students learn about mathematical laws, historical figures, sentence structure, and loads of other really interesting stuff. We need schools to teach us this these things. Without schools, all the rich snobs like doctors, lawyers, and businessmen wouldn’t exist. And we need those people! Ok, I’m being an ass, but we actually do need those people. They, though certainly rich, and often snobby, serve an important purpose.
The point is that schools teach us things that we wouldn’t learn in any other place. That’s why they’re important.
However, as Mr. Twain has alluded to, schooling and education are not exactly the same.
The whole school thing is great. You take notes, study for exams, read text books, all that fun and exciting stuff that everyone loves to do. But, if you limit your education to schooling alone, you’re missing one of the most informational and practical educational mechanisms of all. If you only learn from what you’re teachers or professors lecture about in class, then you’re ignoring the most effective educational tool that we have at our fingertips.
What I’m talking about is more of a hands on approach to education. Some may even call it a “trial by fire”. It’s not that bad, though, I promise. I’m talking about life.
You’ve gotta get out there! See what life is all about! You can’t just keep your nose in a book all the time and expect to know everything about everything. There is an infinite amount of really important lessons that you’re going to miss out on unless you experience the most important class of all. Life teaches you, well, a lot.
Life teaches you about yourself. What you like or dislike. Even what you love or hate. Life shows you what kind of person you are. Through the people you interact with and the things that you do, you mold yourself as an individual. Life shapes you into a human being unlike any history lesson ever could. You change as you grow older, not because you learned something new in the classroom, but because you have seen, heard, or in some way experienced something new in life.
Life teaches you about other people. How to talk to them, interact with them, work together with them, and maybe even avoid them. Developing your social skills allows you to be a friendly, functional person. You’ll know how to talk to people, and perhaps more importantly, how not to talk to people. If you’ve ever been around someone who can’t carry on a conversation and is just all around awkward, then you know how important social skills are. Don’t be that weird kid who showers every three days and only talks to his/her pet parakeet. That’s not cool. Go talk to your fellow humans. The only way to strengthen your social skills is to use them. Experience people and conversations. Experience life.
Life teaches you, for lack of a better phrase, life lessons. Life lessons are the things that you look back on and say, “Wow, I will never, ever do that again.”, or “What in the hell was I thinking?”. Sometimes, life punches you in the gut. You get the wind knocked out of you and, for a while, you feel like crap. You feel like absolute crap and all you want to do is lay on the floor and hold your stomach. And for a while, that’s all you do.
But eventually, you get up. You get back up, brush yourself off, and take a deep breath. You learn from your mistakes so that you won’t get slugged in the gut again. You learn the hard way, but you learn, none the less. You’re a better, stronger person because of it.
Many times, we hear people say, “I’m not book-smart, but I’m street-smart.”. Though what this often means is “I’m dumb as a stump and I suck at school, but I don’t want to sound completely stupid.”, the phrase “street-smart” does have some significance. To be truly street-smart means to have learned all of these life lessons that I’ve talked about. Being street-smart is about knowing how to interact with people, knowing how to act in certain situations, and most importantly, knowing who you are as an individual. It’s important to be street-smart.
So, don’t skip out on class. Whether that be Spanish class or Life 101. They both have valuable things to teach you.
The message for today is to put yourself out there. Put yourself smack dab in the middle of life so that it can teach you all that it has to offer. Don’t get too caught up in passing tests and doing homework. There will be plenty of time for that after you go out and play with the other kids. Yes, I said it. But seriously, learn all that you can from life experiences. I promise, you won’t be bored.