When you think of education, the thing that probably comes to mind first, is the institution of formal education, i.e., primary, secondary and then higher education. We have this closed perception that education has to be formal, and nothing else. Often times we, as human beings, tend to weigh things too heavily on formal education. We frown upon the fact that if a person doesnt choose to go and become educated in the traditional way, they wont be able to make something of themselves in their lives. Personally, I strongly disagree. As Jon Spayed, Learning in the Key of Life, put it, there are many ways to become an educated American, as there are Americans (Spayde 63).
The method in which an individual chooses to become educated, is as unique as the human individual is in itself. Education should not just be based on the traditional Books of the canon including: Dante, Shakespeare, Aristotle, Sophocles, Locke, Dickens and Faulkner, but it should strive towards making an equally balanced student, which it doesnt seem to be doing. Spayde argues in the favor of an in-the-streets education. Granted, an in-the-streets education cant take the place of a formal education, I feel strongly, that having and knowing street smarts can get you far in the 21st. Century.
From a formal education, one is taught from the traditional canon. This canon consists the Great Books that have been chosen to help educate our young people to help them become great things in life. Basically, one is taught in a way that tries to mold them into becoming this great thinker of the times, when in actuality, one is being taught things that are way out of date. They are being taught to use their brains in a very narrow way-not opening them up to other thoughts and ideas. According to Mike Rose, Lives on the Boundary: ...canonized curriculum students would most not likely receive a common core of American Experience (Rose 115). Basically, the canon doesnt teach you the life skills that you need in this day and age, a.k.a., street-smarts as Spayde calls them. To not receive the common core of American experience is depriving yourself of so much, all of the experiences that you cant learn and get from a formal education.
Another component to formal education that really isnt extremely vital, are the humanities.