April 28, 2022

Career AdviceCulture

Get Educated: Alternatives to Formal Schooling

By: David Collins

Schooling is a great thing. Understandably, though, many think schooling and education are synonymous. They are not, and the difference is not merely semantics. 

The difference lies in formality, as schooling is the more structured, formal way of learning whereas education is the broader, more open means of obtaining knowledge.

While schooling entails going to class for seven hours a day, five days per week, education, on the other hand, is not bound by walls, teachers, or timelines. To put it simply, education is the ongoing process of obtaining knowledge.

After all, some people go through formal schooling, but still manage to leave uneducated or underperforming.

How can students ensure their education? 

Though schooling can be the principal means of education, it can always be supported by additional learning. Education should not be dependent on schooling.

Here are some alternatives to formal schooling that can help students become educated:

1. Reading books– whether it be classical literature, how-tos, textbooks, manuals, or anything else found in a local library;

2. Listening to audiobooks – if you don’t have the time to read, but you have a phone and a pair of headphones, consider listening to an audiobook in your spare time;

3. Watching videos – YouTube is a treasure trove of videos from collegiate lectures to quick, informational videos. You can watch professors like Jordan Peterson or PragerU videos;

4. Remote learning – Companies like Khan Academy and DuoLingo are great examples of learning done that most directly rivals traditional schooling;

5. Listening to podcasts – Like audiobooks, podcasts are a great way to obtain knowledge on a variety of topics ranging from personal finance to human action, and pretty much anything else you can imagine (be discerning, though!);

6. Having conversations– The ability to listen, be personable, and conversant on a variety of topics is a highly sought-after skill in the workplace. Many students don’t know how to properly create conversation with adults (or peers for that matter). Learning the art of conversation is an indispensable asset when formal schooling is finished;

7. Taking on an apprenticeship or shadowing – Internships come to mind too, but what’s often overlooked is the ability to work under someone and learn the craft. Many auto shops welcome apprentices and many white-collar jobs will welcome a shadow to learn about the day-to-day life of someone in a high-level field;

8. Going on a walk or hike – Obviously, information, knowledge, and wisdom are keys to a good education, but there’s a big argument to be made for the transcendentalists. Exploring the world without the noise or reading can help you become more observant of your surroundings and allow you to be more grounded in the physical reality;

9. Attending a play or musical – In many ways, a good play is like a good book. There’s a setting, characters, a theme, a storyline, questions of morality, etc. Exposure to this sort of drama taps into a different part of the brain and expands the mind.

10. Visiting a museum – A museum is a great place to combine the theoretical and the practical. With museums, you can read or go on walking tours, but you can also see the physical objects being referenced, sometimes in their full form. Reading about an airplane and seeing one in the sky gives you two different experiences, but walking alongside one gives you a completely different perspective;

11. Playing a team sport– Working collaboratively with others and digging deep through physical obstacles teaches invaluable virtues like perseverance and sacrifice for the greater good;

12. Playing an individual sport – Similarly, playing an individual sport helps mold your intrinsic motivation by not relying on others to achieve greatness;

13. Going to church or praying – Who said that spiritual experiences aren’t educational? Many people regard it as the highest form of existence and the reason for being. Leaving this important side of life out could leave you at a deficit, both in terms of perspective and meaning;

14. Talking to a psychologist or taking a Myers-Briggs personality test – Both can help with self-awareness, improving strengths, and combating weaknesses;

15. Working out– Working out is a proven way to bring oxygen to the brain and to help aid in traditional learning. Educating about the body and what motions work and don’t will help you understand your own limitations while growing in strength, speed, or endurance;

16. Attend a seminar – Seminars are like school, except you can pick the topic you’re interested in. When you don’t like a subject in school, you more often than not still have to take it;

17. Asking questions – Most learning comes from listening or reading, not talking. No one knows everything, and everyone knows something you don’t know. Asking good questions can help you uncover a lot of information;

18. Completing brain games– Although my brain hurts thinking about this one, for many, this is a fun way to challenge your mind and help you develop critical thinking skills. If you’re bored and aren’t looking for a novel, maybe a quick brain game can help stimulate the mind;

19. Watching documentaries – Documentaries are informational, engaging movies. Sometimes they challenge our preconceived notions or open us up to a whole new world of mind-blowing realities;

20. Babysitting or petsitting – You don’t negotiate with terrorists, but you do have to negotiate with babies and pets. Try watching (or shadowing) a baby or animal with a free day, and you’ll learn a lot about personal responsibility;

21. Doing chores well – Not all chores are fun chores, but doing them well for goodness sake and not for minimalist sake will help you better understand that the little things matter and this is a good transferable skill for schooling.

22. Implementing good habits – Habits are the basis of good goal setting, and good habits help form good thinking. Many disorganized people view habit-forming as handcuffs, but they are actually quite liberating when you discover all of the feats tackled and goals achieved.

As you can see, education is very broad, and it isn’t merely confined to textbook learning in the classroom. There are plenty of ways to learn, and opportunities abound.

Even though some students struggle with traditional learning and schooling, which is very understandable, there are no excuses to be uneducated with how many resources there are available for free and for anyone who seeks to obtain knowledge in unique ways.

Let’s encourage education for our students, and not just schooling for schooling’s sake.