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Why Formal Education Is So Overvalued

I remember sitting in class one day, I must’ve been in the 11th or 12th grade, and I looked up at a poster pasted on the wall. On the left side stood a construction worker covered in dirt, visibly worn down as if he’d just put in a hard day’s work, on the right was a doctor, smiling as if the world was all sunshine’s and rainbows. You could tell what they were trying to say even before they said it, but below the two images in bold writing was something along the lines of, “Get an Education”. The idea was that a doctor was something “good”, something that paid well and something to aspire to be, while the laborer was “a failure”, and something you do when you’re completely out of options.

I honestly go crazy just thinking about that image. The propaganda, the cowardice, the underlying economics of an industry trying to keep paying students in their funnel rather than earning and learning in the real world. And this very same poster was in other schools all over the world! It subtly influenced a generation to view labor as the last option, and a degree as the goal. Now, we suffer for it.

This piece isn’t an attack on education, not at all, actually the opposite. It’ll provide a different narrative and an alternative solution. It’s challenging the notion that “an education” requires a diploma, when actually, it doesn’t. Education is learning, I’d argue that you do more learning in the real world hustling and working, than you would in a classroom filled with its distractions and content that isn’t applicable to the stuff you’re going to have to learn once you get out of the system. A formal education isn’t the only option, and those who pitch it as such are ruining our society.

A Nation Built By The Hands of Individuals

As we demonize labor we lose the values that built our society, literally. And we lose the men that built our society to jobs that pay less and provide less value to the rest of society. Was our society built by men? Yes! This isn’t a sexist remark, our society, the buildings, roads, bridges, and borders, were all built primarily by men.

Somewhere, somehow, we’ve morphed into a society that doesn’t value the kind of people who leave their imprint on our fabric with their sweat and tears. We’ve turned into a society that looks down on manual labor when it’s manual labor and hard work that´s necessary for us to live in the ease that we cling to.

I remember there was this Sopranos episode when Tony was meeting Meadow, his daughter, at her school. He picked her up and they walked by a church that was close by. Tony brought up the familiar story – at least familiar to her – of his grandfather building that church when he came over from Italy, the first to do so in his family. You could see the respect in Tony’s eyes, how his grandfather’s hands helped build this wonderful monument to God. He wasn’t the foreman, he wasn’t the architect, he was a laborer. Then here’s Tony, whose kind is, whether we like to admit it or not, respected and glamorized far more than his grandfather’s kind by movies, media, and our imaginations.

Our society was literally built on the backs of individuals who worked hard, physically. It’s even said that there are three million “labor” jobs in the States that no one wants. Jobs that are dying to be filled and that, believe it or not, pay SIX FIGURES because we’ve devalued the labor industry. We’ve developed a bunch of self-entitled douchebags who take more from society than they give, and to be honest, it’s the educators’ faults and the politicians who push the notion that “everyone needs an education”, when our society, and maybe even you, would be better off without one.

Want Debt? Get An Education

Even though it may sound like it, I’m not anti-education, not at all. I just don’t think it’s for everyone, and that’s a good thing! Not everyone wants to be thousands of dollars in debt after four or five years of learning nothing they can really apply in the real world. I mean sure, if response marketing and good old fashioned sales were taught in colleges and in universities, but they are not.

Some people want to earn a living, and just because you’re paying to get an education in an institution, doesn’t mean you’re not getting an official education in the real world and getting paid for it.

If there are two people pitted against one another to get a job, which one are you going to choose; the guy who’s spent four years working for your company, performing far beyond expectations, breaking sales records, making you more money, or the guy who just finished college and who’s never got his hands dirty? More and more companies are seeing the value of actual experience, especially the start-ups of today’s world. You may have to start lower on the totem pole, but if you’re a hard worker, if you’re ambitious, and willing to work more than anyone else in your firm, four years spent in the field rather than studying about your field may end up doing you more good than a fancy piece of paper. Plus you’ll have four years being paid as a worker, not four years paying to study.