The Daily Stoic for July 7th: “Our Duty To Learn”.
“This is what you should teach me, how to be like Odysseus—how to love my country, wife and father, and how, even after suffering shipwreck, I might keep sailing on course to those honorable ends.”
—SENECA, MORAL LETTERS, 88.7b
Why do we learn? When we are children, we go to school because our parents tell us to. That’s what we are supposed to do.
Later, we get to high school and graduate, and then probably we choose a career and go to college. Why? Because we’ve been told that’s what we need to do in order to become successful professionals, get a job, get married, found a family…
In Spain, there’s a specific term for companies and employers who only want their employees to have as many qualifications as possible. Obviously, a bachelor degree is mandatory, and then a Ph. D, MA or Masters Degree, and as many courses as possible.
Too few of them actually care about what these people are worth. Their experience, their ability to solve problems, or to actually do the job despite not having a formal diploma or piece of paper stating that they can do it.
Our Duty To Learn
Truth is, traditional education, and going to college is, of course, great and advisable, but you won’t learn everything there. Especially, not the most important stuff.
Our educational system is too focused on dates, numbers, formulas, and names. We don’t teach children to think, we teach them to remember stuff and follow some predefined guides to do things. We teach them to easily adapt to the labor world and get a job at a big company.
However, when you get out of college, you realize two things.
First, that you know nothing. At least, not a lot in terms of practical knowledge. All your formulas, names, dates, outdated programming languages and old techniques are not very useful anymore, or can be done by a program or machine. Your real education starts right at that very moment. And learning depends entirely on you.
Secondly, you may not want to be just a mere cog in this gigantic machine. Maybe what they’ve taught you is not that valid anyway. Maybe there’s a lot more beyond what they’ve told you.
In that sense, it’s our duty to learn what we need in order to develop ourselves. That’s when the hard work begins.
For today’s Daily Stoic, “Our Duty To Learn”, I wanted to discuss how, when we end our formal education, is when the real learning begins. We need to learn, and it’s our duty to do so, about the real things in life.