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As I began writing this article I didn’t want it to become a which one is better or worse scenario because of the nature of what my question poses, so I’ve done my best to remain neutral. My research leads me to think that education in the true sense of the word has a much broader scope and potential than it’s given credit, and in my opinion, and that’s all this is, an opinion, we need to revise the current way we view qualifications and education.

Over the last 20 years, there’s been a surge of people gaining university degrees and qualifications. These qualifications often fill individuals with a natural sense of pride in what they’ve achieved but along with that pride, elitism seems to have crept in. It was definitely the in thing in the early part of this century to hear people lauding their qualifications and it seemed the first thing people wanted to know was had you been to Uni and what were your qualifications, and if you didn’t have a degree it was almost as if you didn’t really matter.

It was certainly “The” status symbol for a while, but being someone who didn’t choose further education despite being an A student because it wasn’t really of interest or much use to me in the career I was hoping to break in to. I’ve always seen qualifications and their real life application as being rather limited beyond their symbolism.

Now don’t get me wrong, I understand what it takes to gain a degree, well at least I think I do because my qualified friends often doubt this, but I don’t see how three to four years of organised study in a particular subject means anything other than you’ve spent that amount of time to gain a rudimentary at best understanding of your chosen subject. To me a degree is no indication of whether you’re educated which is a totally different thing, or that you really know your chosen subject that well and in the pressurised world of work which I assume is one of the areas where it’s supposed to be of use, how well you can cope with the particular challenges of work, daily life and living and how much of that is down to your qualification and how much is down to your education?

I’m a practical person, I think in terms of use which is a direct result of my education which taught me that the aim of education is not in what it gives you because true education means to draw out from the individual. But, what it enables you to give and not just for your own gain either, the result of education is to get people in action, your actions boil down to, the things you do.

A qualification is a form of measurement, there’s a benchmark, you exceed the benchmark and you pass, you don’t and you fail, and once it’s achieved, those ideas, the work and research that you sweated over might never be used again and if it is it’s doubtful it will be used in the real world for practical gain and benefit to you and yours.

But to be educated speaks to so much more than a qualification, it refers to the whole person not one aspect of skill, an educated person is recognisable by their ability to socialise with people, to be able to get the best out of people and situations because they use the available resources to get the results they need and if they don’t get it right they learn from the experience, that is the mark of an educated person and it’s an ongoing process that never stops, the person of education is always seeking to learn and continue their education because that’s a mark of education, personal growth.

As I said I’m not against qualifications and for sure the pursuit of them can be a worthy pastime without a doubt, but given the choice between mixing with, working with and spending time with people who are qualified and those with just a good education I know which one I would choose, how about you?

By Carl Mason

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