The Need for a Rounded Education

So, my first post. I’ll keep this one short. You’d probably think that a post on why we need a rounded education is a bit of an anomaly in the middle of exam season, but I think it’s actually quite relevant, seeing as it’s very easy to lose sight of the bigger picture at this time of year. 

Education is not the amount of information that is put into our brains and runs riot there, undigested, all our life. We must have life-building, man-making, character-making assimilation of ideas. If you have assimilated five ideas and made them your life and character, you have more education than any man who has got by heart a whole library.” – Swami Vivekananda

To put this in a modern context, education isn’t simply about passing exams anymore, although there are many people who’d disagree with me here. Yes, exams are important, and anyone who wants to access a place at a top university really has to perform well in them, and work hard in order to do so. 

However, what I’m not an advocate for is studying to the point of eschewing all other activities. There’s only so much that the A-Level (or IB) syllabus can tell you; it doesn’t teach you everything. It goes without saying that you have to engage in some form of activity outside the classroom too, whether that’s playing a sport, or a musical instrument, debating, public speaking, or drama. Each one of these adds an extra string to one’s bow; perhaps the modern equivalent of the ideas that Vivekananda talked about. ‘Bashing’, as it is currently known, can only take you so far. 

What can we do then? Instead of procrastinating to avoid revising, do something productive that helps take your education further. I’ve spent hour after hour practising the violin since going on study leave. Try meditating as well, even if that just involves sitting in silence for a while; it’s a great way of managing exam stress and has many other benefits beside. That way, you’ll have more education than anyone who has got by heart their whole Chemistry textbook.

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