“I am not educated because I had to stop school…”
This is something that I have heard a lot. But is it true for all? Education can take many forms and while school is important, especially at a young age, it is not necessarily all that is accessible.
I wanted to share one of these stories. The one of Douglas who recently told me “I am not educated because I had to stop school…”
Douglas is the second-last born, of 14 children. He had to stop school in 10th grade when he was a teenager after his father suffered a heart attack. His father was a government employee and after his attack, he was put on early medical retirement. The medical support that he needed was using all of the little pension he received. As the family could not afford all the school fees any more, they had to make choices regarding which children would complete their school education. Douglas was not one of them.
He started working at the age of 18 in a big city, doing small odd jobs. He was earning a living, but was spending all of his income on alcohol. He became a “bad boy”, dealing drugs to make more money, but still drinking it all. He found a stable job where he was trained as a security personnel for fund transportation. He moved to the capital city. He had a job but was still dealing drugs and spending most of it on drinks.
Until one day, he lost his job when his company closed. He was interested in construction work and wanted to learn. He was 29 years-old. He was told that he was too old to learn. Despite the negative opinion of others, he went around and asked people to teach him. He acquired a new skill, learned a new trade, on-the-job. He went out of drinking and dealing. He settled.
While he did not finish school, and thus does not have a full “academic education”, he did educate himself and learned a job.
He now has 2 jobs, one of them being his own construction company, still in the capital city. He has 3 children and is very proud of them. And he is not finished with wanting to learn and grow. He has projects for a new venture. He is saving money for it and already has some plans.
Can he really say that he is “not educated”? In my view, he is “not schooled but educated”.
Academic education is one aspect of education.
His parents did provide him with life-education, teaching him to go further and fend for himself.
His early years in school gave him the basis of an academic education.
A builder did provide him with education on construction, skill training.
One of the question to ask when talking about education is : “What is education?”
Douglas is an example of the difference between being schooled and educated.
One of the things that made a difference is that he did attend school in his young age, so he acquired the basis of academic education. But a major difference afterwards was his motivation to learn and get an education, as well as the support of the builder that did give him this education.
While schooling is critical, academic achievement is not the only education that is available. And the will to go further can be another critical aspect of where the “education” in any form is taking us.