16. My thoughts on education

I struggled with formal compulsory education – I didn’t fit in with the structure and discipline of school. Sitting still for five hours a day listening to a teacher and only learning what someone else wanted me to – that was hard work!

I managed to make it through my first year of high school before I pretty my zoned out. I was much more suited to self-directed learning, which is more like what I got when I did Correspondence School after Antony was born. I did two years of home-schooling when he was a baby, then did a year in an adult education class. Going to university really opened my eyes to how awesome education could be. I was able to choose from 100s of subjects that interested me, and within each subject, follow my own thoughts and ideas.

So when my children also struggled with formal education, I wasn’t concerned. Because I valued knowledge and had taught them to also, I knew they would get an education one way or another – just maybe not in the traditional sense.

So Antony made it all the way through high school but not to university. He’s a self-taught successful web developer – he’s pursued his life-long passion for computery things and is making a good living from it.

Megan, a chip off the old block, made it through about two-and-a-half years of formal education, and left as soon as she could – at age 16. And also self-taught, she’s doing well for herself as a marketing assistant.

What I know is that education does not equal knowledge, and getting an education in the traditional sense does not necessarily lead to a smart person or a happy life. Some of the most successful people I know have little or no formal education.

I believe that education comes from being curious – asking your own questions and having the means to answer them for yourself, from experimentation, trial and error, from failure and success. It’s about paying attention to the world around you – observing what’s going on and taking time to reflect on what it means. It’s not taking the world for granted but always questioning (this one annoys people around me!). It’s about making connections across what you see and hear – putting it all together in meaningful ways for yourself.

Education is knowing something not because someone told you it, but because you have thought about it or observed it for yourself.