Blog Every Day in May: Schooled

Day 23: Things you’ve learned that school won’t teach you.

I graduated magna cum laude from Amherst College, and sometimes I still ask myself, “What DID school teach me, anyway?”

My favorite quote on this topic comes from G. K. Chesterton:

Sincerely speaking, there are no uneducated men. They may escape the trivial examinations, but not the tremendous examination of existence. The dependency of infancy, the enjoyment of animals, the love of woman, and the fear of death–these are more frightful and more fixed than all conceivable forms of the cultivation of the mind. It is idle to complain of schools and colleges being trivial. Schools and colleges must always be trivial. In no case will a college ever teach the important things. For before a man is twenty, he has always learned the important things. He has learned them right or wrong, and he has learned them all alone.

What have I learned that school didn’t teach me? My limits, for one. Pulling an all-nighter during finals week can’t hold a candle to staying up all night with a newborn. Getting a bad grade on a final hurts less than realizing you’re going to run out of money before you run out of month.

I guess we need these school experiences as a warm-up for the “tremendous examination of existence.” But most of adult life has to be learned hands-on, through trial and error (and error and error and error).

I am STILL learning how to make friends outside of an artificial school environment. I am still learning how to run a household. I am still learning to care for other creatures, both two- and four-legged.

So I guess you could say I learned that my real education never ends.



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