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Bonnie Isham Willis
September 2000

When we think of education, do we think of sitting in school nine months every year until we graduate – or do we think of our life experiences, our pain and our joy? There are many words to describe education and many forms through which we receive it. The essence lies with what we take from our instruction and how we apply it to our lives. The goal is to attain knowledge and wisdom; or is it discipline and diplomacy for which we

Life has its own lessons that we can not receive in a classroom. The “school of hard knocks” is an institution we all attend. Culture and tradition train and guide us on our path. Many people and places serve as mentors. Aptitude, opportunity, insight, and common sense depict the information we receive. Discernment and reason distinguish our perceptions. It can be said that experience is the best teacher. Is there an experience that we can not learn from?

I often wonder what exactly I am supposed to learn and what I am supposed to teach. It is difficult to achieve such a subjective idea of education, and harder still, to pass that down to my child. It is important to learn how to communicate and interact with people. It is important to learn about science, health, history, and math. But how do any of these subjects actually train us for life, or help us walk through it with our heads held high?

I have come to the conclusion that wisdom is finally realizing that I don’t know very much, and I know much more than when I thought I knew it all. My search for higher learning and my quest for knowledge have led me only to more questions. Learning is a life long process. The most valuable lessons come from the least expected source – life.

With direction and guidance I can apply my knowledge to my life successfully. With reason and discernment, I can weed out all the negative information that the world sends me. I can respect and honor my culture and traditions while learning from the mistakes of the past. Through my experiences, I have hopefully gained common sense. I try to reserve judgement and perceive the world with compassion and understanding. I acknowledge my intuition: sensing and believing in my heart that some things in life are undefined and beyond my comprehension or logic. My goal is to attain as much knowledge as possible, while achieving enlightenment. When I get to that place, my education will be complete.

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