Sunday, March 3, 2013

The cost of education verses the cost of ignorance

Something I heard a guy called Dale Beaumont say at a marketing seminar a few weeks ago has stuck with me. He said “If you think the cost of education is expensive, you haven’t considered the cost of ignorance.” In the context he was talking about the costs of not getting educated about how marketing tools work and about how to design a sound marketing strategy can have negative business consequences. However, I think it is a more broadly applicable statement worth pondering.

Education can be expensive. It can be expensive in a financial sense if you are pursuing education in college or formal training sense. It is also easy to spend a lot on books. It costs time to learn things. No matter how many good study techniques you have mastered, anything that is substantial and worth learning will probably take time. Getting educated can also cost energy. If you’ve got a lot on the go, it might be hard to muster the energy to read or listen to lectures. It is easy to let continuing to learn get pushed down the priority list as a result of the stresses of life.

These costs of education are real, but so are the costs of ignorance. You don’t have to look too far to find examples in the Christian community where insufficient learning has consequences. Examples that come to mind include situations where a poor grasp on theology contributes to the giving of questionable advice to people who are struggling, a shallow understanding of sociological issues leading to ineffective attempts to fix social problems or a poor grasp on science finding its way into some apologetic arguments.

Some will argue that educational attainment can become a source of pride. This can be true but doesn’t have to be. Others will argue knowledge is not the same as wisdom nor can it serve in its place. This is true but not the whole picture. As Christians, learning can serve our discipleship and witness by helping us do a better job at dealing wisely with the dilemmas and decisions we face. Knowledge gives wisdom something to work with. Although most of us probably won’t be solving big problems like designing public policies to reduce poverty, we all have things we can learn that will help us better serve God and people. Read some books, attend some lectures, join a class or do whatever else it takes. Getting educated on the right things is worth the cost.