There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born till the moment you die is a process of learning. Learning has no end and that is the timeless quality of learning. – Jiddu Krishnamurti
Many of my husband’s students often hear him say, “always keep your brain on.” This is a lesson we’d begun to share with our own children as they started growing, reading, and learning. Throughout my life people tended to tease me playfully because of my learning style in school. While other students crammed the night before a test or did their essay research whilst simultaneously writing their essays, that was never my style. I never wanted to memorize what was on a test. Passing wasn’t my ultimate goal throughout my life. A high GPA was only ever a bonus to the ultimate goal: learning.
My father once told me that the one thing I could give myself that no one could take away from me was an education. Knowledge. I took those words to heart. Life became a focus of soaking up as much information as possible. This was much more difficult in the days before the world-wide web. I once had to spend time in libraries to learn as much as I wished. Books became an obsession of mine as a result of this. The day my parents bought the entire A to Z 1997 Collier’s Encyclopedia was a joyous occasion for me!
Learning has become easier in today’s society. Knowledge is at everyone’s fingertips. Smartphones have made research a commonplace activity. Unfortunately, so many fail to utilize the power within their grasps. If we all focused on learning and education the way we should, as a species we would grow to understand each other more. Understanding historical and societal practices helps to develop tolerance and acceptance.
As a culture of individuals, one of the hardest concepts to overcome is that our way isn’t the only way. When the Europeans moved into the New World, European Christian ideals were pushed onto the native population. We are, historically, a command and conquer species, always convinced that our way of living is the best way of living. Here in the United States, we still enact such a way of life. The constant push between the Christian fundamentalists and the LGBT community, religious intolerance against Muslims, racial tensions… all of this stems down to the idea that there is only one way to live. What we need to do is learn from each other. Learn about each culture. Learn about each person. Perhaps if we spent more time learning, we’d have less time to judge and hate. If we bothered to research more fully into the ideas of others and, more importantly, into our own ideas we may find a much more common ground. We may even find that our own ideas are the problem! We need to approach life, society, politics, religion, and culture scientifically. We need to approach our own biases and preconceived notions even more scientifically.
I once watched a documentary on particle physics. A physicist had spent his life researching and arguing on a specific scientific theory he’d developed. At a conference, his theory had been ripped to shreds and disproved. The physicist thanked those who disproved him. Thanked! He showed appreciation upon being informed that his life’s work was incorrect. If only we were able to approach politics, religion, and societal beliefs with the same objectivity, perhaps we’d be capable of learning to coexist happily.