Education vs. learning.

As an American citizen in the land of the free, the land of the great, and the land of opportunity I must get an education to get a secure job. But I must also learn.

And those two things – education and learning – are so different that they’re the night and day of this story. I go to school to get an education. Six hours a day, five days a week, forty weeks a year I sit in class and raise my hand in hopes that my participation grade won’t be the crippling factor in this quarter’s report card. I allow teachers to teach me about history and calculus. They allow me to be a part of the nationwide system that dictates my future.

For 180 days I learn what a committee somewhere in the capitol thinks I should be taught. Outside of school I learn. When I wander through the forest by myself, I learn that peace and tranquility in the midst of a warring world do exist. When I sit in the middle of a room and discuss current events with friends I learn that opinion and fact can coincide, contrary to what I’ve been taught. I’ve learned that the world is a balance and that something is always being added to both sides, making it just one small step away from tipping.

When I listen to music I realize that pain and suffering are part of life. In one year I’ll be going off to college and that makes me realize that school never taught me how to balance a checkbook. It hasn’t taught me what it’s like to be curious, because curiosity means wasting time on one person’s inquiries. Education can get you far, but learning takes you anywhere. Curiosity is the basis for every great discovery.

I mean, after all Curiosity got us to Mars. Curiosity also got us off topic in class, and thus we weren’t taught about the 80’s for the final, but that day we learned that our classroom held twenty two people with complex stories and aspirations all across the board. Education comes to a halt, but learning never stops and that’s what we too often forget.