“What is it then to be properly educated? It is learning to apply our natural preconceptions to the right things according to Nature, and beyond that to separate the things that lie within our power from those that don’t.”EPICTETUS, DISCOURSES, 1.22.9-10a
What does it mean to be truly educated? It certainly doesn’t mean that you have a fancy piece of paper on your wall that means you achieved some particular degree from a prestigious university.
Heck, I have one of those, and I often feel like I’m just beginning my education, from reading books like The Daily Stoic. I’m focusing on setting myself free via self-education these days… but I’m still not sure I could call myself truly educated. Not yet anyway. It’s a journey.
There are a heck of a lot of people with fancy ‘educations’ who don’t really know the first thing about themselves. They don’t have the simplest understanding of how to do what Epictetus mentions above — to separate what’s in your control from what’s not. And that’s one of the most basic things we need to learn!
How do we become truly educated? Well, it doesn’t happen inside a classroom, I can tell you that. This is going to sound trite, but it comes from a mindset where you desire to always be learning. Where you’re always focused on growing and understanding.
I’m going to leave you with one of my favorite quotes, from one of the wisest Americans to ever walk this planet. I love the clever truth hidden in these words.
“I have never let schooling interfere with my education.”MARK TWAIN