Is Formal Education A Mistake?

It seems a lot of people are questioning the effect of formal education on their lives. Virtually every book I read these days is focused on the need to restructure the educational system and promote self-education (in the West, especially United States).

I agree that this is the Information Age, hence there is an abundance of information at our disposal. However, in a developing country like Nigeria, how do you access or critically analyse this information without formal education? How do you seek out answers from books at home, library or Internet without formal education?

Formal education is very important. It is a ticket to our future. Without it, we rely on easier and faster sources for information like television, printed materials, experts, or hearsay from immediate contacts, friends or relatives to save us the time to self-learn, think and analyse.

It must be said that formal education doesn’t guarantee anyone financial success but it removes the scales of ignorance from one’s eyes and helps the mind think, explore and seek several answers. As a consequence, it is a ticket out of miserable circumstances for many, a solution to our backwardness.

I am curious to know why Nigerians who claim formal education is nothing think so. What has helped you to form this opinion? I need to know if they’d be opinionated or able to reason the way they do now if they had no formal education. Formal education gives you a certain level of exposure, and therefore the will to chase self-education and become an autodidact.

“Autodidacts are the self learners who quench their hungry and inquisitive minds by self learning and finding answers to their questions themselves” – Maaher Sayeed

The problem with our formal education is that we are/were all taught to be status and result oriented. Most people believe formal education is all about amassing certificates and titles whilst bragging about them to anyone who cares to listen.

What really matters is the transferable and non-transferable skills you pick up. Don’t miscontrue my point. I am not saying having a good grade or result is bad. Nevertheless, due to the keeness to have titles attached to our name, cram-la-pour has become a ritual. This is beneficial in the interim but useless in the long run.

“Reading without reflecting is like eating without digesting.” – Edmund Burke

Many also go to school and focus solely on academics or social life. When they are thrown into the real world, they realise their inadequacies and deficiencies. There’s a reason why the Igbo word for a University is “Mahadum” but I prefer to call it “Marahadum” which literally means know them all. The best advice you can give to a student going into school is to allow the school pass through them as they pass through the school. That way, they would be equipped with formal, non-formal and informal education.

I concur that there are certain things you can’t learn in a classroom because experiences shape up our lives. However, you need formal education to ditch crowd mentality, hearsays and blindly conforming to borrowed wisdom, and base your opinions on balanced and educated thinking. As a consequence, formal education paves the way for self-education.

Would you say this reflects your own experience of formal education? How would you say it has impacted your life – for better or worse? You know the deal; comment below.

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