Time Flat Wasted

If there were a winner for the most frequent comment made by the general public about education, it might be this:


"I got my degree in X, but I haven't once used it since."

And then we nod and bemoan what's wrong with education to bring so many people to that pass, though we never really pinpoint the cause.

There's a cause, all right, and it's unfortunate, but not in the way we might think.

The problem with a statement like this is that it turns education into an object.  Education is meant to be used (and used up).  A degree is pursued as a means only.  What can it give me?  When life gives me a lemon, I squeeze it dead. We want to shape and manipulate our education, for the express purpose of monetarily benefiting from it, and if we aren't able to do that, it's basically time flat wasted.

But an education is supposed to shape us.  It is supposed to transform us into givers, thinkers, and influencers-of-culture.  Far from being a limited set of necessary tools for a limited set of necessary evils, education -- including our specific professional degrees -- gives what is intangible, but what is also universally powerful.  And that is an ability to be thankful for our rich heritage of knowledge, perceptive of what needs to be done in the world, well-equipped for those tasks, and brave to jump in the trenches and do them.