Being Educated vs. Being Smart

“Education is derived from the Latin word “educo,” meaning to educe, to draw out, to DEVELOP FROM WITHIN.” – Napoleon Hill

The time has come that I speak about a subject which I feel has taken a turn for the worst for the past few decades. That is the subject of education. In today’s time, the majority of so-called educated people tend to believe that being educated is nothing more than being in possession of the ability to recite from books verbatim. In other words — memorizing and recalling information. But if you’d notice, the ability of your average person to earn a living is decreasing, even with this rise in today’s standard of education. Not only is the ability to earn a living deceasing, what’s also shocking is that the ability to think critically and use common sense has taken a huge plunge. It is these issues that we’re going to discuss.

As mentioned previously, today’s meaning of education describes nothing more than the ability to memorize and recall information. Maybe that information was obtained from that person’s schooling, maybe from their own independent reading, etc. Some may wonder, “what’s wrong with that?” Well, education in it’s true form lies in pragmatism a.k.a practicality. Stated another way; if one is unable to put the information that they’ve obtained into use towards some meaningful goal, that information is worthless. For instance, it’s not uncommon for someone to believe that they’re highly educated just because they can answer a series of trivia questions. That may earn you a spot on Jeopardy, but in the real world, it means nothing.

If you’d notice, during the early part of the 20th century, less people had formal education but yet more of those people were able to make a living. Maybe not a fancy living, but they were able to provide for themselves and their families nonetheless. It also wasn’t uncommon at this time for an illiterate person to become a successful businessman. Even with all of this so-called education today, your average person can’t provide for their family, let alone create a successful business. Even further, a lot of people who would be considered well educated or intelligent lack the ability to apply critical thinking to commonplace situations. What is it that is causing this? It is simply a flawed idea of education. Back then, and even now, there are people who understand that becoming truly educated doesn’t mean filling your head with useless information. They understand that educating one’s self simply means to have a goal and gather all of the relevant facts needed in order to attain that goal. If they themselves don’t possess this information, they know how to find it or they can ally themselves with people who possess the information which they don’t. People also understand that common sense is the only true education that there is. Common sense is something that can’t be taught because it comes from observing the world around you and arriving at objective conclusions.

To further illustrate my point, here’s an example. Let’s say that you have a man who wants to open a restaurant. He may not be a person of scholars and may even be a high school dropout. But in order to make his goal a reality, he goes to the library and begins to read up on basic entrepreneurship. He then begins to pick the brain of other restaurant owners. He researches, and finds out how to go about becoming a legal entity, zoning laws, health laws, accounting, finance, what type of equipment is needed, the market which he wishes to target, etc., or partners up with someone who already knows about those things. At this time, he’s not concerned with any information that doesn’t help him to get his idea off the ground.

When explained in that way, education as I explained before is solely a matter of knowing how to get the factual, relevant information one needs for the attainment of a worthwhile goal. But in today’s time, our students aren’t learning anything of the sort. That’s why I favor trade schools over your usual method of education today. With a trade school, at least a person is picking up a specific skill and being taught to USE that skill in real world fashion. Most students today, however, the skills (if you wanna call them that) are being taught from a purely theoretical standpoint — they aren’t being taught how to apply the information that they’re learning. If you can’t use to your benefit from information that you’ve acquired, what good is that information?

Another good example to illustrate the difference between being smart and educated, since the previous paragraph was about schooling, would be college grads vs. blue collar workers. You take two guys, one who has a PhD in Middle Eastern Studies and the second is a guy who learned the trade of plumbing from watching his dad. Your PhD student is gonna have an extremely difficult time finding a job because his area of learning hasn’t taught him any job skills. Sure, he can impress you with fancily worded facts about the Middle East but he isn’t able to earn a living because he’s unable to find work in which to use that information. Because he also lacks the ability to think critically and apply common sense, he thinks that having a degree by itself should open doors for him — he doesn’t understand the need to have a marketable skill. Our plumber guy, on the other hand, hasn’t any degrees but he does quite well for himself as a plumber. Our PhD guy is jealous of the plumber and thinks of him as being undeserving of the life that he lives because he has no degree.

Which brings me to another point. There used to be times when I’d debate with guys on the internet about various subjects, particularly social and societal issues. I eventually came to realize that those debates were stupid. Here we are battling back and forth about something that doesn’t benefit neither of us in any way, shape or form. Those of us engaged in those debates are able to recite facts from books that we’ve read and so forth, but that was of no benefit to either of us.

Conclusion: In the end, it comes down to this — the person who’s truly educated is the person who entertains only facts and information that will benefit them in some useful way. Cluttering your mind with useless information is not education but that idea of education has been pushed on society for the past few decades. Society is more impressed with someone who can quote from a book verbatim than they are with someone who takes information and builds an empire with it. You have people with college degrees that are flat broke and struggling who believe that they’re better than a successful entrepreneur who doesn’t possess a college degree. The same goes for people who possess tons of academic information but can’t seem to figure out how to work out day-to-day issues…due to their lack of common sense. Frankly, I couldn’t care less about being a walking encyclopedia….unless I was appearing on Jeopardy. As long as I possess the information that will enable me to become a master in my field and lead a happy life, that’s all that matters to me.


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