I don’t usually do personal dedications in my articles.  However, this article is dedicated to the woman who declared that she was too educated to be kicked off a train after the conductor asked her to keep her noise level down.

What, exactly, does is mean to be “educated”?

It’s not a piece of paper – I have two Bachelor of Science degrees (earned simultaneously).  I’m proud of this achievement.  However, my university education served as the foundation for my overall education – it is not stand-alone proof that I am educated.  A commencement is a beginning, not an end – and a foundation is not a completed structure.  Having a degree doesn’t even prove that you have specific knowledge – only that you possessed that knowledge at one time.  People do tend to forget things over the years.  If you’re 50 years old, do you really want to point to your college degree – evidence only of a burst of academic success thirty years ago – as proof that you are “educated”?

It’s a commitment to continued learning – I have learned far more in the fourteen years that have passed since my college graduation than I did in the four years I spent on campus.  Not only have I needed to keep pace with my industry and my role (which is not related to my degrees), but I have also worked to enhance my knowledge in several areas of interest.  These areas include baseball, forensic science, paleontology, and law.  In a combination of two of the interests, I have become very well versed in Major League Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement 🙂

I have a brother who spent nearly twenty years working in a factory.  The company moved the jobs out of the country – a big blow to the local community.  Those who lost their jobs had the opportunity to go to college for two years at no cost.  My brother, who had not been a very committed student in his youth, saw a good deal and jumped on it.  Thanks to his willingness to continue his learning, he is now the owner of a successful computer repair business.

It’s a willingness to go outside your comfort zone – I have a friend that we’ll call Tom (because that’s his actual name).  Tom and I really have very little in common.  We fall on different sides of the political spectrum (albeit with generous overlap) and have very different interests.  The only time Tom watches NFL football is when he sits down to watch 60 Minutes and the preceding game bleeds into the time slot.  Conversely, the only time I watch 60 Minutes is if I don’t quickly flip to a different channel after my NFL game ends.

Tom and I often have lunch together.  Our discussions are quite often enlightening.  One of us will talk about their job or an interest, and the other person will chime in with an “uneducated” view on the topic.  The “uneducated” view often makes the “expert” look at the subject from a fresh viewpoint.  Quite often, I walk away with the need to dig deeper to answer the questions of “why?” that Tom raises.