Purpose of Education in Spiritual Development

For a very long time, I’ve been concerned with the prevailing “wisdom” that education exists solely for vocational enhancement.

I respect the engineers and pastors and other professionals that I work with in my various “lives” who had the intelligence and tenacity to finish degrees, and advanced degrees, and even more advanced degrees. But that isn’t me.

I learned almost all the electronics, computer science, theology, biblical studies through my own “outside of the education system” education. The university was good. I have a degree. Most companies didn’t ask what it was in. They looked at my experience and I got several engineering jobs. And, I guess I did well. I’m pretty technical and love technology.

Mostly, I love learning. I want to know everything about everything. (To dream, the Impossible Dream….).  My unique perspective prepared me for my 10 career changes.

So, how many career changes have you had?

Here is a voice from the Silicon Valley venture capital community issuing a warning much as I would. In Hard-Core Career Advice for a 13-year-old, James Altucher notes, “[My experience] shows that school is too focused on ‘education leads to a job.’ This is not true anymore. “

He continues, “The reality is the average person has 14 different careers in their lives and the average multi-millionaire has seven different sources of income. So anything that is ‘one-job focused’ will create a generation of kids that will learn the hard way that life doesn’t work like that.”

I have always believed that education is necessary for personal growth. And beyond personal growth, it leads to social growth and understanding. It should broaden our awareness of the world around us and the people who are our neighbors—no matter where on earth they may reside. 

The best blend of education includes technical and humanities, institution training and personal study. My university education both in engineering and Liberal Arts formed a nice foundation. Unlike what some people I’ve interviewed over the years have believed, I never thought that an undergraduate course made me an expert in anything. In face, my graduate courses were not much better—but that may just be a result of the school I chose to attend. 

Engineers who have no art, literature, history or music education (whether self-taught or through a university) are usually too one-dimensional. They can solve problems, but they often don’t know which problems to solve. And personally, they are missing out on much of what makes life interesting.

On the other hand, humanities or social science majors who think that they cannot learn technical things are also missing out on an entire body of knowledge that would deepen their understanding of the world and help them read popular (i.e. news media) articles much more critically. 

So, I’m with Altucher. Prepare for many careers by obtaining a broad education obtained from many sources. Most of all, learn to read critically, think rationally and express yourself clearly whether written or oral. 

I just finished a long work of deep scholarship by N.T. Wright on the Apostle Paul. I understand the complexities of scholarship even though I am not one–technically speaking.

With effort, you could learn that, too. It calls for suspending emotional responses and seriously considering arguments. That is the way to greatly increase depth of learning–something seriously lacking in today’s so-called university education in the US.

One thing I’ve learned about people–simply possessing a degree is only an idicator of the perseverence of completing the program. It is no assurance of actual knowledge. That comes from reflection upon continuous learning. Learn continuously so that you can grow continuously.

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