Mar 11, 2020 in Education

Education plays a very important role in the modern world as it becomes increasingly dependent on the information, and to attain success, a person must possess and appropriately use facts, data and technologies. Therefore, people spend more time learning now than they did a few centuries ago. However, the methods used for educating people are still debatable. The question whether formal school education is necessary for a person to become well-educated is one of the most widely discussed issues in this sphere.

Knowledge cannot be taken out of nowhere, so if a person wants to become well-educated, he or she needs to find an efficient and reliable source of information. This source (or sources, which is even better) is the only prerequisite for education. However, formal schooling is not the only way to learn new things. The primary source of information for any person is the nature and the surrounding world. It does not have to be knowledge about different species of birds and the strength of the winds in spring. The information provided by the nature can be really varied and multidimensional. The scholars whose inventions and discoveries made the scientific revolution possible did not depend on the previous generations as much as people are used to now. Their main strength was readiness to observe and openness to new information that could even destroy all previous theories. One of the best examples of such an approach is, by all means, Charles Darwin, whose focus on the practical observation allowed him to formulate one of the most important theories in the world.

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Another source of information that can help a person to get really good education is books. Sherman Alexie in his essay “The Joy of Reading and Writing: Superman and Me” tells what a great role books played in his life and how they showed him which professional path he should take. He writes, “I read books late into the night… I read books in the car… I ran to the bookstores and read bits and pieces of as many books as I could” (Alexie 17). Although the author had formal school education, it was obviously not his school teachers who made him long for knowledge. Probably, if not the books he read himself, he would not achieve the success he managed to achieve. What is even more important is that books helped him to understand that he must assist other poor Indian children in getting out of poverty and various limitations by giving them an opportunity to read good and useful books. His recipe is simple – “"Books," I say to them. "Books," I say” (Alexie 18). The same point of view has Amy Tan who argued that reading helped her to overcome language difficulties she had because people who surrounded her, especially her mother, did not speak proper English (Tan 420-21). Therefore, the role of books in self-education should not be underestimated as they can serve not only as a source of information, but also as powerful inspiration to pursue goals.

In some cases, formal school education is so much influenced by the governmental strategies and social stereotypes that it becomes very difficult for the students to choose their own path in their lives. The school imposes various limitations on young people that prevent them from being free and making their own decisions. Maya Angelou remembers in her essay “Graduation” that the official representatives of her school did not think that the African American students were capable of breaking the limits and achieving really great success (Angelou 28-30). Formal schooling can be difficult for the representatives of minorities. Such an attitude can be very depressing if a person does not have enough inner strength to counteract this negative impact.

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However, all the above-mentioned ideas do not mean that formal schooling is an obstacle in the process of getting good education. Nowadays, schools and especially universities where people learn very difficult professions, such as a physicist or a surgeon are the only legal way of getting “permission” to work in a particular field. A person can read many books in anatomy, but it is impossible for them to work at any hospital without formal education and all corresponding licenses. Therefore, being a well-educated person without ever attending school is possible in theory, but this person would still have many limitations in a modern society. It should be also mentioned that although formal schooling is not the only way to get education, it makes the process of acquiring necessary knowledge fast and effective. For instance, a modern student does not have to spend years observing and analyzing different species as Darwin did as it is enough to attend a class in biology where an educator would tell them the basics of this theory. Therefore, a student could spend time more effectively and research new aspects of evolution or probably even try to find evidence that opposes this theory.

To conclude, it is possible for a person to get rather good education without formal attending of school. Valuable information can be taken from direct observations, reliable books and other sources. In some cases, formal schooling also limits the person's creativity and aspirations for the future. However, nowadays, attending school is, by all means, the fastest and the most effective way to get proper education and often the only legal method to practice the profession.

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