Education vs. Schooling

“Education vs. Schooling: Are we truly free-thinkers or just well-trained robots?”

We’ve all been there before, right? You find yourself in a conversation where the topic of dating arises and typically one of the first characteristics that someone lists as a “desired quality” is that the person must be “educated.” I’ve found myself in this discussion many times, [as in the case of a recent experience I had,] and whenever this topic transpires, I can’t help but ask the question, what does being an “educated” person really mean?

The other day, I was talking with a few close friends of mine and one young lady there stated that “she will only date men that are well-educated!” She continued saying that she herself is working towards acquiring her higher education and needs to have someone on “her level.” When reading this, I’m sure most readers believe this to be a typical statement made by numerous, if not all women; however, among the crowd were several men who agreed with her statement, as they themselves also possess this same requisite “quality.” As the group continued to stress the “importance” of someone they intended to date to be “educated”, I realized that no one in the group ever really described what being educated entailed. I decided to ask my friends to explain what they mean by this often used epithet and their responses were as I suspected: someone with a college degree or higher that earns a moderate to high salary. Although I was not at all shocked by these answers, I was left feeling disheartened by these glaring Western perspectives regarding an educated person and the notion of education in itself.

Before completing my graduate program, I conducted extensive research regarding the historical and present-day institutional factors that have given birth to, as well as sustain the achievement-gap within the US. Through my examination of the structural components contributing to this long-standing phenomenon, it became very apparent to me that the ideology of liberalism, so insidious in nature, is one of the central components [apart from racism in its truest form] of this historically destructive educational trend. Thinking about the cultural philosophy within our national “education” system that equates achievement with merit and one’s personal mental acuity and higher level of intelligence, it becomes clear how this cultural value system, highly Eurocentric in nature, influences other areas within our society.

When it comes to dating, [as well as the friendships we have and those we socialize with,] the “selection process” of a potential partner undeniably reflects the liberal ethos which places those with college-level degrees or higher at the top of the food chain, while ostracizing those without them. Just think about it: when we meet someone, what’s one of the first questions that we ask them? “What do you do and/or where did you go to school?” Our society associates what we do to who we are and most often times, we tend to find those individuals who’ve obtained a “higher education” more intellectually superior and somehow naturally smarter than others; hence, they are more attractive to us! These perfunctory questions and shallow viewpoints of others are so indoctrinated and programmed within us that we don’t even realize that the choices we think we make when dating people or befriending others are not based on preference at all, but an encoded idea of what society deems as acceptable.

Thinking about the conversation I had with my friends about only dating “educated” people, in addition to many other discussions I’ve had concerning the notion of “educated” individuals in general, my question regarding what makes an educated person still remains at the forefront of my mind. From my personal encounters with people, I’ve witnessed a fundamental difference between those who are truly educated versus those individuals who are mere products of a systematized process, known as schooling. If we really sit and think about the nature of our national “education” system, we come across an organization whose approach to edifying the minds of future generations consists of a [Eurocentric] methodological process where rote learning or memorization are highly enforced and where “teaching to the test” simply to reach locally, state, and federally imposed standards govern the culture of “enlightenment” within the walls of our schools. This schooling process is solely intended to perpetuate existing power relations, while creating a society of human machines that follow the script of enforced social mores, (i.e. settling down,) doing exactly as they’re told. The flawed schooling one acquires in their formative years follows them into their adult life where they continue to acquire degrees, not due to the pursuit of actual higher learning, but merely as the conduit to “get an education, (i.e. paperwork,) to get a good job and make money!”

Throughout my life, I have known an unfortunately large number of people that have college-level degrees as high as PhDs and yet when confronted with the task of actually thinking for themselves and looking beyond the surface of a myriad of issues, it is as if they are instantly transformed into parrots or programmed dolls who are only capable of speaking in a rehearsed manner. When discussing topics, such as religion or single-parent headed homes, it’s quite typical to find people regurgitating the exact same perspectives that they’ve heard from someone else, highlighting their painful inability to truly look beyond the superficial exterior of the issue and look at the entire picture and its interconnected components. Moreover, what is equally upsetting is witnessing an overwhelming number of people who, due to their mental programming/schooling experience, succumb to the present-day existence of antiquated social customs; when someone is rushing down that proverbial aisle because they “believe” that it’s “time to settle down” or they feel compelled to obtain the “American Dream” by purchasing a house, car and all the fixings because they “believe” those things are truly a “substantial necessity,” Even the celebration of holidays, like “Independence” Day [which is a complete hypocrisy,] Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving and countless others, underscore the mind-control that enslaves innumerable members of this society. Why does this happen? you ask….it’s reflective of an unconscious person who is the offspring of a system of schooling where their psyches only respond to the messaging which has been implanted inside them; this lack of knowledge of self, one’s failure to truly know how they themselves personally feel about these issues, is the antithesis of what is means to be educated.

Alternative to schooling, when one acquires education, they are able to reflect critically on a myriad of topics and through the boundless process of creative and global cultural exploration, an individual is highly equipped with the insight and intellect to formulate their own perspectives and judgments independently. Their mentalities are liberated from the mental bondage imposed upon them to submit to and accept the “standard” or “normal” social, economic, political, and religious customs that so many fall victim to! True education is the process of exploring alternative and holistic ways of thinking, doing, and ultimately expressing one’s self. An “educated” person is above all, a free-thinker…a conscious individual fully aware of the world and all of its aspects and their emancipatory psyches are not dependent upon entering into the walls of academia where they receive a physical representation of their implicit “intelligence” and “educated” mind.

The challenge, dear reader, is for all of us to renounce socially-constructed ways of thinking and living and be intentional about freeing our minds from that which has been told to us and instead, find the authentic essence of who we are inside. When our minds become free, the veil of oppression and prejudice regarding who’s intellectually superior and who’s not, no longer exists and we are then able to truly see people, not for the superficial objects that society says they represent, but for the beautiful human beings they are inside.

My name is Lady J and I work in education reform and community development in the nation’s capitol. My lifelong passions include deconstructing the numerous “isms” (i.e. sexism, racism, classism, etc.) that plague our society and challenging people to think critically about how they are both affected by and affect others with these “isms.” My mission to ignite the global mobilization of people of African descent through mental emancipatory “re-education” models reflecting core/authentic Pan-Africanist elements will be my legacy….I Am We! Visit My Blog at


  1. WOW. I really enjoyed that. You are very thorough. Thankyou.

  2. “I knew as well as I knew anything that the oppressor must be liberated just as surely as the oppressed. A man who takes away another man’s freedom is a prisioner of hatred, he is locked behind the bars of prejudice and narrow mindness.”-Nelson Mandela…we spend so much time accepting the indoctrination of our oppressors that we eventually accept the birthright as the new oppressor. “Education” has been used for eons to oppress a group of people,so who’s really losing? That is exactly what we’re seeing here. College educated folk who think they are superior and don’t have any SENSE. As a teacher, it is my job to liberate minds, and it saddens me when people put kids’ questions and curiosty on pause so they can grow up to do as they are told. Well said sista!

  3. Very well written Lady J!!! There are far too many “educated fools” in our midst & frighteningly many of them are in so-called positions of power.

    So often we overlook & totally disregard the common sense wisdom that many in lower economic statuses have obtained through the difficult life lessons they’ve learned at BYU- “Back Yard University”.

    Keep up the very EXCELLENT work Sista!!!

  4. @ Mr. Jackson, thank you so, so very much for your thougtful comments! I truly appreciate your enthusiasm and support!

  5. THIS IS EXCELLENT & VERY WELL WRITTEN! It truly is food for thought especially in light of the widespread problems within our educational systems. Thank you for bring this topic to the forefront.

  6. @ Victoria, your statemet is so powerful and dead on! It truly thrils me to know that as a teacher, you truly posses the insight and intellect of what true education is and are utilizing that to enhance and open the minds of our future leaders!

    Thank you again for your contiuned support and let’s keep working together to emancipate the minds of millions across the globe!

  7. @ Leoni, I want to truly thank you for your heartfelt and well-written comments; you definitely hit the nail on the head about how we disregard the natural intelligence of those a part of the human spirit who have never been to a university or college. We must start to free our minds and understand what real education looks like and begin to do away with the superficial images of what a person should look, think, act, and be like.

  8. @ BJ….thank you SO, SO much for your outstanding support and thought-provoking comments! Your support and the support from other readers keeps me inspired to continue this emancipatory work!

  9. This is such a beautiful post! Free of rhetoric, but with true substance!

    Your perspective explains so much…I see what I couldn’t fully articulate in regards to our present day culture.

    I was at an Erykah Badu concert and she said only 5% percent of the people really get what’s going on…you have beautifully and profoundly defined conformity…status quo and most important “BONDAGE”…reading this informative narrative on an entertainment blog is soooooooo refreshing….it’s always good to mix it up!

    Women and men should date based on CHARACTER, common bonds and goals. Maybe the Brotha is willing to go back to school or is good with his hands and construction or landscaping is more of his forte!

    “be intentional about freeing our minds from that which has been told to us and instead, find the authentic essence of who we are inside.”

  10. @ Cynthinia, AMAZING! Thank you immensely for your powerful and inspiring comments! It TRULY means SO, SO much to me that this article resonated with you and it keeps me hopeful that this work that I do will continue to reach the masses and unite us all! Thank you sista so much for your support!

  11. Well, as a BLACK man, I have known for quite some time that we, as Black people, have all be “MISEDUCATED’ during our sojourn in America. Western standards should not define education. I emphasize us, as Blacks, because it is us whom I`m most concerned with. We must stop letting this racist, systematic, system define who we are. Must one have a college degree to really be considered so-called educated. If that were the case then our ‘BRILLIANT’ ancesters from ancient Kemet would indeed be found wanting.

    Yet it was that great wisdom/knowledge that The Romans and The Greeks stole from their temples and called their own. They presented to us Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, etc. as great men who brought a deep teaching to civilization while failing to inform us that they were only regurgitating what they had learned from our ancient ancestors. Even today America still hold these great truths and wisdom dear.

    The wisdom/knowledge/brilliance of ancient Kemet is all around us today. Just focus your attention on Washington D.C. in particular. The building structures, starting with The Lincoln Memorial, The White House, The Capitol Building, etc., are all fashioned after the great monuments of ANCIENT KEMET. The Lincoln Memorial is a replica of one of the great temples built in honor of one of the great Pharoahs of Kemet named Ramses. Even on the back of the dollar bill they pay homage to ANCIENT KEMET with the great pyramids and the all seeing eye of Heru.

    And even today with all of Americas` so called myriad of knowledge, neither they nor we, the descendants of the ANCIENT KEMIUS, have the knowledge of how the great wonders of the world (The Pyramids) were constructed.

    So you tell me, who`s the one with TRUE, INFINITE,, WISDOM, and knowledge? By Americas` standards then my ‘HERO’, Malcolm X was not educated. Yet he confound the best of their scholars who attended the most prestigious of their universities with only an 8th grade education. A piece of paper/document/degree from our oppressor should not denote how well educated we are. We are only educated according to his standards which should not be the measuring stick. Western knowlege, like a character from a Stephen King novel, is very obscure.

    I`ve gotten more from reading novels, from the great author, Richard Wright, than any American University could ever give me.

    Michael Jackson & The GOLDEN 80S 4EVER.

    Peace, in the spirit of my ‘HERO’, Malcolm X

  12. Go lady J!!!! Aaww That’s my best friend!!!!!!!! Well said!!!!!

  13. What you all fail to realize is that conformity wears many different faces, and this kind of thinking is just another one that people choose to put on. One is no better than the other. For my part, when I have tried to date men who were not college educated it just simply didn’t work. It is not a matter of money. It’s about perspective, being open to culture and experiences, etc. And in my experience, the men I have encountered who did not go to school were very limited in their thinking … Not bad guys, we just did not mesh. And let’s not even get started on their insecurity about the issue … I think this sounds great but it is a fact that level of education matters in the society we live in.

  14. Thanks @Lady J for your kind words!

    @Love I do feel what you’re saying…once I was having a conversation with a guy and I saw the puzzled look on his face and asked him if he understood and without hesitation or self-consciousness he said “noooo”…I always mostly dated entrepreneurs [most educated, some not but attended good charter or college prep schools or had parents that afforded them cultural outlets and opted out of college.

    I know education makes a difference. Coming from a family of first generation of college graduates for me and my cousins, friends…I always saw it in having conversations with different family members and their pride in me for going further than they went, even though, most of them were very accomplished in their own right.

    One of the reasons white women ponce on Brothas, most of them don’t have this requirement from my experience. I fully get being able to COMMUNICATE with someone and SHARE common interests, but I hope we do a better job at mining for gold…because a lot of our educated Brothas are accredited bad boys and womanizers knowing they are the ish and in high demand! And, a lot of my very educated Sistas have been severely dogged out by her Big Ten, Ivy League Brothas!

    I also realize and have experienced the negatives of trying to mold and upgrade a Brotha, too…but, if more of us are to find “suitable” husbands we have to expand our reach (education, race and creed) and deepen our pool!

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