We Don't Need No Education

By Will Pennington - Millennial Milk

There are moments where doubt begins to creep in.

It might be in the witching hour, cramming for midterms, it might be when that alarm goes off before that Monday morning class, it might be another lecture on material you learned years ago; but in the career of every student, there is a time that they question their motives.

Believe it or not, these academic crises of faith are not a bad thing. In fact, examining the reasons we choose to pursue our education can allow us to have a vastly more enriching academic experience.

For some people the answer is simple. They are pragmatists, and a degree means more money and a higher standard of living. There is nothing wrong with this simplistic approach, but at a point materialism can only be so impactful.

To be sure, the basic human needs are very powerful motivators. Having food on the table or a roof over one’s head are very powerful motivators, but only to a point…

There have been numerous studies done that show that once people earn enough to comfortably cover their basic needs, about $75,000 or so, day to day happiness does not improve relative to income.

Kevin Short of The Huffington Post does a good job of presenting the case here

Anyways, money is only an influencer of happiness to a point, so one would imagine it would also lose its power as a motivator. Money, safety, and security might be the reason people get a B.A. but it won’t be enough on its own to push people to graduate school and beyond.

For some people, competition or the notoriety of obtaining a post graduate degree are enough to push them forward in academia. Whether it is a fraternal competition between siblings, or a desire to feel validated as an expert in your field, being recognized as learned feels great.

Although it took me quite a while to really appreciate it, my personal reason for continuing my education was ingrained in me over a decade ago.

Mr. Moody, my 7th grade Latin teacher, looked like he could have leapt from the pages of our textbook before changing out of a toga and into a coat and tie. Mr. Moody ruled his classroom like a Roman tyrant, inspiring both love and fear in near equal measure. Before teaching he served in the military, though I can’t remember if it was with the US Navy or the Roman Legion.

On our first day he asked us a simple question. “What is the purpose of an education?”

We were 13 and 14 and fumbled with clumsy answers about making money or being happy or smart. None held much conviction.

Mr. Moody then began to explain that education was at its heart a Latin word.

The “E” at the beginning came from the Latin word “ex”, which means “out of” in English.

Duco, Ducare the Latin for the verb “to lead” is the origin of the “ducation” part of the word.

To the Romans, an education was meant to lead out that which is inside of you in order to become a better person.

I always liked that. I liked saying it, I liked hearing it. The only problem was I didn’t like doing it. To the frustration of Mr. Moody and a host of other teachers and professors I refused to engage in my education in a meaningful way.

It has been a long time since that Latin class in the first week of September, but the message couldn’t be any closer at hand. School offers us a chance to hone ourselves, to grow, to become better people.

The beauty of learning is how much studying other things can teach us about ourselves.

To grow is a more wholesome motivator than money, and a longer lasting motivator than competition.

Don’t let education stop with a degree. Learn every day, grow every day.

I realized a few months ago I didn’t know much about investing. I bought a book and eventually one thing led to another and brought me to this point. Without that struggle for growth I never would have written this article.

If you weren’t trying to grow you probably wouldn’t have read this article.

The desire to grow to learn to be a better person is huge.

The next time you doubt your motives, the next time you falter, remember that this struggle is making you a better person and THAT is why you are doing this.

Like so many other teachers, professors and other people involved in my education Mr. Moody helped lead out that which was inside of me in order (for me) to become a better person.