The Value of an Education That Never Ends

For more than 15 years I have presided over my university’s Arrival Day, the time when families drop off their sons and daughters about to start their college career. Every year some parents will take me aside to say they wish they were starting college, and that they’d get a lot more out of the experience now because they’ve become better learners.

One mother laughingly called herself a “perpetual student.” She meant she pursued learning for the sheer joy of inquiry. But the term is usually one of gentle derision: someone who keeps taking more courses as a way to avoid holding down a job. In other words, a slacker, or a loser. I think that’s wrong. We should begin to see this sort of lifelong learning as a way for individuals to gain not just knowledge, but liberation. In its ideal form, being a perpetual student is not an act of avoidance but rather a path to perpetual self-determination and freedom.

The ideas of “freedom” and “student” were not always linked together. In pre-modern Europe, schools were few and far between, but there was learning nonetheless — learning that aimed at economic independence and integration with a community. Universities were founded in the medieval period, and as literacy became more culturally and economically advantageous, especially after the Protestant Reformation, basic schooling became more common.

Please help put parents in charge of their child’s education by forwarding this article to other parents, family, friends and voters.
Open book. by Elisa Calvet B. is licensed under Unsplash

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