What's So Wrong With Formal Education?

There is a recent trend against education. At least formal education. And I find it so interesting (and a little bit frustrating if I am honest with you all)

I will admit that I am a highly educated person – so perhaps my resistance to their resistance (was that confusing?) comes from wanting to justify all the education I have pursued and paid for. I have a High School diploma, a Bachelors degree, two Masters degrees and am half way through a Doctor of Ministry degree.  I (clearly) LOVE education. I love to read, and write out my thoughts, and challenge my preconceived ideas and see how my actions, behaviors and beliefs change over time. I love to have conversations with different backgrounds and belief systems in a room that make me see things in a way I never have before.

And I think a lot of people, whether they engage in formal education or not, are like this. Because conferences are huge and hip right now, people love going and chatting with like-minded people and taking about how we will change the world. They just don’t see that as education. Or at least a formal form of education.

I was working the Fuller booth at a conference this last weekend and someone came up just to tell me they were not interested in Fuller because they were more of a practitioner and didn’t want to do any of that formal education.

But that’s the thing – I am a practitioner too! Academics and the practice of ministry aren’t mutually exclusive. We should all be continually learning and retooling and sharpening our skills. We should all be in rooms with people different than ourselves having conversations that push us deeper and challenge the ways we’ve been thinking about God, ministry and theology.

I was also sitting across the table from a friend the other day that said to me: “I don’t know if your Doctor of Ministry degree should make me listen to you more, or actually make me listen to you less! I lean toward the latter!”

Education isn’t bad. And I know you don’t have to go to a graduate school to get it. It can happen, in very deep and profound ways, at conferences and bible studies and church and by reading books. But it CAN also happen in an academic setting. Through curated conversations and lectures and paper writing and research. So stop looking down on people who have formal education – they have a lot to bring to the education. And stop looking down on people who don’t – they have just as much to bring.

We’re all lifelong learners. We’ve just got to find those environments that challenge and stretch us. What’s yours? Have you found it yet?

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