Education is only the means… And not the end

2011/02/07

Too simple and clinched, right? And when we see this, we probably get into denial mode and even rebuff this as a very fundamental knowledge not even worth a second look. But the reality is far, far, far from this. Many people I have come across – including professional and personal accomplices, and even some very close friends I have known for years – holding degrees or certifications cease to think beyond it, cease to accept a world that could be different and maybe better, and in reality, START TO THINK OF IT AS AN END.

Some typical behavioral traits (I’m not stereotyping here, just some traits I have personally come across) we can notice in people who think education is the end could include:

  • They generally look down upon people with lesser “qualifications”, irrespective of how good friends they are or how well intentioned their efforts and intent are – and they sometimes are brat enough to show it.
  • Their learning stops – which a cliché – but the most common behavioral trait is, they turn a blind ear/eye to others opinions, especially from people who are “lesser”, irrespective of the most honest of intent. They sometimes even stop all forms of reading – even for just fun – and even listening – unless it’s for another certification or degree of course.
  • Some even don’t want to listen to the opinions of people whose qualifications are “more”.
  • Most commonly, they say just by virtue of their degrees or certifications, they can demand more money for the same job that a person who does not hold it does. And do so too!!! Pretty dangerous for a long term career.
  • They even mock well meaning effort, intent and even achievements, undermine them, term it as sheer luck, and even go about showing how they really feel about these people – again, irrespective of how close friends they are with the well intentioned hard workers. Please note the usage of the term “people” and not “intent/achievements/hard work” in this point.
  • It’s hard to ignore, they have the air of “know it all” – sorry if this is not really tangible but it’s just hard to ignore.

Most of us holding fancy degrees think that will land us in a fancy or respectable job interviews. Right! Most of us also think that these degrees will mean success all through career and life. Wrong!!! Dreadfully wrong. The major mistake we make is that we don’t take these degrees in the right sense, which is providing a platform to make our jobs easier – basically acquisition of knowledge. In India particularly, learning is mostly the route way and securing degrees or certifications becomes tougher. When we take this tough way out, we tend to think the battle is won. Wrong!!! The battle just begins. And as we take on more responsibilities, the battle turns to an all out war – OK this was just an exaggeration, I just mean it gets harder as you move up.

In the whole process, we tend to undermine the importance of experience. Education is learning and acquiring knowledge. Experience is applying it. It’s a simple difference between smartness and wisdom. Smartness is choosing the right degree or certification to go after based on passion and logic; wisdom is knowing when and how to apply the knowledge gained from it. The latter does not come with just learning or education. It requires solid experience, many mistakes and some serious retrospection.

The bottom line is, the purpose of degrees and certifications from the days we knew it existed – I’m talking about the gurukul days of Indian culture – is acquisition and authorization of knowledge. It’s in our own best interest that we approach it that way. We cannot undermine the importance of experience, which is, knowing when and how to apply knowledge – and that in my opinion, is the fun part of knowledge in the first place.

 But on this other side, I have not seen many well intentioned and experienced hard workers undermine the “degree holder” – which does not make them saints either, my next post is on that – and honestly, I think experiences teaches that, to leverage all options, including degrees and knowledge from education,  and enhance overall effectiveness.

People with experience and some hard reached achievements but no fancy degrees, if at all get to read this post, will probably think they are saints and vindicated – WRONG!!! People with fancy degrees, again if at all they get to read this post, probably think either the author is personally against fancy degree holders because he does not hold one, or probably think these don’t apply to them, they are beyond it and not their traits.


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