The Lifetime Learner

May 20, 2008
By Emma Buescher, Valdosta, GA

A Chinese Proverb states, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Serving the values of a true education is the challenge of giving a child the open opportunity to view the changing world through his or her own perceptions as a lifetime learner. Feeding the minds of learners satisfies their needs for only a short period of time; therefore, learners must be taught to feed themselves and to no longer be fed. Beginning as fun and enlightening excitement, learning sadly veers into a never-ending line of tests and negative pressures to succeed. People of today’s societies fail to realize that education truly exists far beyond the classroom.

Furthermore, providers of knowledge and insight (teachers) must work to guide, not lead. The path to the future must be laid out, but not so thin that students may only select the steps that have already been taken. Wide paths in education escort children to the successes of being lifetime learners. In kindergarten, teachers teach students the ultimate goal of making it to the first grade. Consequently, in middle school the ultimate goal is to make it to high school. And unfortunately, the forced ultimate goal of the average high school student is to arrive to college. Pupils therefore fail to learn just for the sake of gaining knowledge. The focal point of education must be to be a lifetime learner, and to acquire knowledge through cultures, backgrounds, and individual experiences, not merely desks and lunchrooms.

Mark Twain once said, “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” Schools must not hinder students’ minds to the cram period before exams, or chapters of books to be finished. Educators must guide students to learn from various sources other than schooling so they may become habitual lifetime learners and “fish” for themselves.

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