True Learning: Education Versus Schooling


Leoma Monaheng reading his piece
Leoma Monaheng reading his piece

There is a saying that most applied theories were in fact created by outsiders, that is to say, those outside the field in which they contributed extensively. For instance, Charles Darwin was in fact not a biologist by profession and yet he changed the sciences profoundly.

In modern times though, we seem to have lost all adoration for the common man and have instead placed excessive prestige on the academic man, the doctor, professor, etc. And yet to say that education is the key to success is not only true but it is also a great understatement. However, there is untold difference between education and schooling.

What we call a “School” is in fact an institution that tries as best as it can to gift its students with an education, however, this does not entail that the concept of education itself is confined within school walls.

I have, many times, met with people who were skilled in one way or another but lacked a formal education; entertainers blessed with the “gift of the gab,” artisans who could build a table with only scrap material and dressmakers who didn’t make it to tertiary but could still design and create with the best of them.

Mark Twain once lamented that he did his best not to let schooling get in his way of obtaining an education. The writer had a point, which was that one should never let a set of rules make them lose sight of what’s really important; innovation and creation.

The school system, in essence, initially represented a formalised way in which one could learn all the main principles that were necessary for the progression of human endeavors.

Hence the study of maths, languages and the sciences; biology and physics, were necessary tools used to explain mankind’s environment and eventually tweak and change it to suite his requirements. In this regard, formal education would prove to be so successful that the general population would call it the “Key” to success.

But something happened along the way. In our haste to find it, and partly because of human nature, we lost the true meaning of what this “key” represented, and what it was that needed unlocking. Could it be that formal education held the key to a happier life, financial freedom, or all of the above? But what if there could be more than one, so called, “Key.”

Recently, things took a sharp turn in regards to what can guarantee success. In the case of tertiary qualifications, specifically in Lesotho, varsity graduates are slowly finding out that a degree does not equate to success, much less guarantee employment. Begging the question, “So you’ve graduated, now what?”

I believe what is needed in this particular instance is educational reform, if not in the actual structure of the formal educational system, than in the minds of the Basotho youth in terms of how to view the word itself.

We have learned, unfortunately, as the struggling unemployed youth of Lesotho, that a tertiary qualification is not enough. This fact should not depress us but rather motivate us to find other means to supplement what’s lacking.

All the theories we learned at school, in classes such as Marketing 101, should be studied along with practical real life examples we see in the streets of Mafeteng, Maseru, Maputsoe, etc on a daily basis, because street vendors themselves are the main adherents of “tertiary” concepts such as word of mouth, entertaining marketing and persuasive sales tactics already.

To class ourselves according to the level of formal education obtained by an individual would not only hinder our progress as students in the school of life, but would also run directly opposite to the founding principle of education itself, which states, “It is not about what you already know that matters, but rather, what you can learn that counts.”

Our current state of affairs therefore presents us with a set of challenges, not only to shed our qualification bias but to also understand that real education can and does exist outside of the classroom.

As is the case, there are currently many street scholars, who are making a good living from the lessons they acquired while enrolled in the “hardknock” school of life. This list includes prominent politicians, astute businessmen and popular musicians who all managed to become rich and famous without a degree.

The mastering of any craft, be it in academics, the arts, and even personal relationships requires an equal and daunting amount of passion, perseverance and handwork. This then entails that an education is in fact the mastery of these and other various endeavors and thus can take on more than just the form of a qualification.

The sooner that we graduates understand that life itself is the ultimate teacher, the better. Also, while obtaining an actual degree might be a step in the right direction, there are still miles up ahead to overcome.

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KEMNET is a communications network that is solely interested in the pursuit of the “African Dream.” It is our hope that by presenting to you (the youth of Africa) a platform where you can voice your opinion on issues that affect us here on this black continent; we will bring about a positive change.