What it means to be educated today is very subjective. To truly be educated means to have completed 12 years of primary education, elementary school through high school. To be educated can also mean having some sort of degree. When asking myself what I think it means to be educated I have a hard time agreeing completely with society. I think to be educated is not solely based on a formal education but on life experiences. Life experiences are needed to fill in the grey areas because a formal education makes most things out to be black and white, at least from my experience.
I?m not at all saying that a formal education is not important because of course it is. If weren?t beneficial in anyway it would be obsolete by now. Some of the benefits of formal education are math, reading and writing. These are basic tools needed to survive in modern society. Formal education also teaches us how to speak, act in some social situations and discipline. These are all practices that form the backbone of an education, but they are not what make education entirely.
If formal education were all that it took to become educated I think this world would be a lot better, but that is just not the case. A formal education makes most things to be black and white. The answer is this and not this, you can do this but not this. There is just so little true-life experience to all of it that it just can?t make up the whole spectrum of education. Another downfall is the structure of formal education. When a school system has a certain curriculum and structure it seems to make people think the same way and limits creativity. Granted, schools do try and make this not a problem but it isn?t easy. For example, a friend of mine attended Berklee College of Music and recently dropped out. He found that once in the college they either make you a jazz musician or metal musician. This was not the education he was looking for.
True-life experiences are what make the biggest impact on education. Some of my best experiences come from trips I have taken to other countries. In school and from my parents I heard that hitchhiking was dangerous and that I should never do it. That statement may be true but not always, from what I learned. What I arrived in Reykjavik, Iceland in late 2010 my friend and I were lost trying to find our hotel. We decided to hitchhike because we had heard that it was a safe way to get about Iceland. Within minutes we were picked up and then dropped off at our hotel. I wouldn?t hitchhike in the Bronx but I felt it was safe to do so in Iceland and these decisions were made for experiences I had.
Through my travels I have also learned a lot from the friends I have made. In London in March 2010 I made friends with three guys from the city of London. Two of the men were from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and the third was from England. I learned a lot about Middle Eastern culture that I would not have in school. I also learned British slang, the best places in London that the locals go and other invaluable things that would not have been learned in a high school course. People you meet are an education of their own. Each person has something new to teach you and it is even better when his or her culture is different than yours.
Another tough area of life that people need to learn about is racism and prejudice. No matter what everyone has some sort of prejudice about something in their life but the most common prejudice in our society is race, religion and sexual orientation based. At least these are the most publicized cases of prejudice. Also, racism is still a problem in some aspects of our society. Since it is a touchy subject in public schools in America it is hard to teach racism and prejudice. I learned about prejudice and racism by seeing them at their extreme.
When I was 12 years old a group called the World Church of the Creator came to my town of Wakefield, Massachusetts. This church isn?t like other