Is education overrated by the dominant discourse?

An air of melancholy had filled our house during the past several weeks after the unexpected passing away of  my grandfather. Today, I was eating dinner when distant relatives decided to make a visit to uphold with the etiquette of visiting the house of the deceased to console family members.

They asked me: “done your exams?” “you finished your undergrad, right?”

I hesitantly replied, “yes” because I knew the next string of questions that was to follow.

They further interrogated me: “so you’re free now?” “Are you working?”

I slowly shook my head and my dad added “no, she is preparing for a professional exam.”

The worst part about family meetings, especially with those who you barely know is that you have to mask your boredom as they bombard you with interrogatory questions. They were expressionless when I told them that I am an undergraduate (so far). When they learned that my cousin sister recently became a Dentist, there was more “life” to their expressions and responded by saying, “oh, with a professional degree like that, there is nothing to worry about”.

Looking at two different expressions, me and my mother exchanged looks. “Why is education so overrated these days?”, I wondered. Today, the dominant discourse puts a great value on education. It is forcing us to become bricks in the wall as we try to conform with the social movement of obtaining higher-level education in order to feel accepted by the dominant discourse. I value education but why make a social hierarchy based on education? For some, fluid intelligence predominate while for others, crystallized intelligence is dominant.

In the real world, there are more important things than having textbook knowledge. In addition to other factors, soft skills that include ability to relate to others are important in determining success in one’s own profession. Does education=success? Does education=money? Does education=fame? No.

Let’s take Steve Jobs, for example. He was a college dropout but one of the multi-billionaires of the 21st century. What made him so successful? It was certainly not his education. So what was it? His skills! He was innovative and it was his creative thinking skills that made one of the greatest contributions to his success. There are many other famous figures with minimal education. Henry Ford, William Shakespeare, Albert Einstein (initially, he was high school dropout),  Abraham Lincoln, and Narendra Modi are just a few examples.

Should we not care about getting education in the anticipation that we may become successful like the people above even without education? No, that is not the point. If you have a passion for it then seize the opportunity to obtain higher-level education but don’t just study out of the fear of being devalued by the dominant discourse. Follow your dreams, whether it requires you to obtain post-graduate degree(s) or simply hands-on skills in a sector that does not require education beyond high school.


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