The importance of education – Part 1

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One particular day, not so long ago, I found myself thinking about what makes me happy. While I feel that I have been blessed with a great deal of good fortune and happiness in my life, I found that the older I became, the less frequently and intensely I was experiencing it. This really bothered me as I could not accept that the process of aging was a causative factor in decreasing levels of happiness in life. This would clearly contradict the idea that we are supposed to get wiser with age and it certainly isn’t wise to be unhappy, right? Then I found an interesting quote related to this concept.

“Wisdom doesn’t necessarily come with age. Sometimes age just shows up all by itself.” - Tom Wilson

So, when I stopped focusing on age as the causative factor, but more as an associative factor, the solution, which is ridiculously obvious, presented itself. All I had to do was to think more about the things I was doing and experiencing earlier in my life when happiness just seemed to come so effortlessly and in abundance. It literally felt like I was being spoon fed all the happiness I could eat. Sometimes I was being given second and third helpings before I’d had time to eat the first portion! So what had changed? What was I doing less of now? After a few long runs, which I find great for ‘washing problems’, I began to understand that the times in my life when I had been the happiest were when I was either in enrolled in a course of study as a student or working as a teacher or instructor helping others on their own path. In other words, I was happy when I was involved in education. If education then made me happy, I wanted to gain a deeper understanding of what education actually was. What better place to start than a dictionary definition! What I found was very interesting.

Education is the act or process of imparting or acquiring knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgment, and preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life.

From this, it can be seen that education is not just for the benefit of students, but, in fact, is also about the giving and not just the receiving of knowledge. In other words, the process of education is reciprocal in nature with both students and their instructors both learning from and teaching each other simultaneously. This makes perfect sense to me on a personal level, as I have gained probably even greater pleasure from education as a teacher. Learning already is something that I enjoy, but the additional fulfilment that comes from assisting others to learn makes the experience that much more enjoyable.

However, is it really that simple? Is education alone enough for us to develop into our best selves and to live happy, fulfilling lives? Do we still need something else to maximize the effects of the knowledge and skills we have acquired through education? These questions and more will be addressed in part 2 of this article.

Jyri Manninen
FAF Director of Education

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