Education vs School

Growing up with all sorts of schooling and with my father being a teacher and my mother being a traditional Japanese mother concerned about "education," I was easily brainwashed into thinking that education meant going to school and getting degree(s). Or "schooling = education."

How wrong I was. But before I explain, I need to digress: I was always good in math during elementry and junior high in the US since Japanese math was about 1 year ahead so I was breezing through my American math classes (while struggling in my Japanese classes in the evening). During 7&8th grades, I was able to get ahead but somehow I got bogged down and didn't contiue to advance. In 9th grade, at a new school, I was given a chance to skip Algebra I and went into Algebra II (I was conditionally admitted, since I was tested during signup and didn't pass everything but enough that the teacher let me go on ahead). Did I have a blast: I was a 9th grader with bunch of 10th and 11th grade high schoolers and several of my classmates were humble enough to asked me (a lowly freshman) for help! We moved to another school for 10th grade and I was able to take pre-calculus with 11th and 12th graders.

Well, I was breezing through my pre-calc in 1979-1980 and soon got bored, so I started studying ahead and found myself butting my head against calculus. It took several readings of the textbook to understand the essence of calculus but I eventually got it and it gave me the confidence I needed to tackle any material I wanted to learn. That summer, I took calculus at the local community college and got me going in taking many college courses before I finished high school. (Taking geometry in my senior year was a joke: I spent most of my class time playing computer games since the computer lab (Commodore PET) was in the same math class.)

At that time, programmable calculators were starting to get used and I wanted to learn what this programming was all about. I borrowed a classmate's TI-55 and manual and wrote a simple stop watch and I was hooked on programming. I got my parents to buy me a TI-58 that summer after working at odd jobs. I read books on programming, I got a computer account (PDP-11 hooked up via 300 baud modem) via my high school and started programming in BASIC. I took a college course in computers, which I breezed (since I already studied on my own). When I started college, I was always one step ahead of my courses needed for my Computer Science degree (at least for BS -- MA was a bit more of struggle since I had to take several formal topics, which I didn't care for (same with math, such that my last 2 years of math BA studies were no longer fun).)

During college I discovered Dr. Schaeffer's The God Who is There and learned that Christianity is truth about reality and covers not just spiritual/religous arena but all of life: arts, science, history, politics. I started reading more of his books and his family's books, esp. Franky Schaeffer's Addicted to Mediocrity. The later pointed to two books which realigned my understanding of education:
  • For the Children's Sake by Susan Schaffer MacAulay (This made me realize that education is about learning and that it is OK (in fact, better) if it was fun to learn)
  • The Way Home by Mary Pride (helped me understand what home education was all about)

When I understand about home education during my graduate studies (1986-1987), it dawned on me that I had been home educating myself all along! Once I realized it, I got out of my PhD studies (after taking few courses) and have never really looked back.

So now I see "education = self learning" (+ learning to teach this ability to the next generation).