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8. Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.


 Introduction: Imagine two individuals: one is a brilliant mathematician who can recite complex formulas and theorems but struggles to adapt to the demands of the real world. The other, perhaps less academically distinguished, possesses an uncanny ability to solve practical problems, connect with people, and navigate life’s challenges with grace and resilience. These traits match with personalities of S. Ramanujan and Thomas Edison. While both may have received formal education and achieved much in life, it is the latter who exemplifies the profound truth behind the quote, “Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.”

This quote, often attributed to Albert Einstein, underscores a fundamental aspect of education that transcends mere rote memorization.


Essence of the topic:

The quote from Albert Einstein centres on the enduring value of education. It asserts that education is not confined to textbooks and examinations but encompasses the development of critical thinking, problem-solving abilities, and a thirst for lifelong learning.


Thesis statement:

This essay explores the profound truth behind the quote, delving into the enduring significance of education beyond the confines of the classroom. Critically, it will also examine how education equips individuals with the tools to adapt, evolve, and contribute to society, even as they forget specific details learned in school.


Life-long Learning: Education Beyond School

  • Quote: “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” – John Dewey
  • Curiosity: Lifelong learners are fuelled by curiosity. They remain inquisitive throughout their lives, asking questions, seeking answers, and exploring the world around them.
  • Practical and vocational knowledge: Education goes beyond theoretical knowledge when individuals acquire practical skills like managing personal finances and vocational expertise like handy-work and civic duties.
  • Awareness over knowing: Lifelong learners prioritize awareness over simply knowing facts. They strive to understand the underlying principles and contexts behind information, enabling them to apply knowledge in various situations.
  • Positive social impact: “Educated” Individuals engage in community service, advocacy, and philanthropy, using their knowledge and skills to address societal challenges.
  • Examples:
  • Visionary entrepreneurs like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk continuously adapt to the ever-evolving tech industry.
  • Environmental activists like Greta Thunberg educate themselves outside of the school curriculum about climate change, inspiring global climate action.

Critical view: Importance of Formal Education

  • Quote: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela
  • Structured learning: Formal education provides a structured curriculum designed by experts to impart essential knowledge and skills. It offers a foundation on which individuals can build their understanding of various subjects.
  • Credibility and credentials: Many professions require formal education as a prerequisite for entry. Degrees and certifications serve as credentials.
  • Access to resources: Formal educational institutions offer access to resources that may be challenging to obtain through self-education. Libraries, laboratories, specialized equipment, and expert instructors enhance the learning experience. Interactions with peers, professors, and alumni can lead to mentorship, collaboration, and job opportunities.
  • Research and innovation: Formal education often includes research components that contribute to advancements in various fields. Universities and research institutions are hubs of innovation, driving progress in science, technology, and academia.
  • Legal and ethical training: Some professions, such as law and medicine, require formal education to ensure practitioners are well-versed in legal and ethical responsibilities. This helps safeguard the well-being of individuals and society.
  • Examples:
  • Medical doctors undergo years of formal education, including medical school and residencies, to ensure they possess the knowledge and skills necessary to save lives and promote health.
  • Engineers receive formal training to design and build infrastructure, ensuring safety and functionality in the construction of bridges, buildings, and technology.
  • Lawyers acquire legal expertise through formal education and bar examinations, allowing them to uphold justice and navigate the legal system effectively.

Future of education:

  • Critical thinking: The future of education is to emphasize critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity. Students are being encouraged to analyse complex issues, think critically, and propose innovative solutions.
  • Practical and vocational training: Vocational and skills-based programs prepare students for diverse careers, bridging the gap between education and employment.
  • Technological enablement: Technology plays a central role in the education of the future. Virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), artificial intelligence (AI), and immersive simulations enhance learning experiences, making education engaging and interactive.
  • Internet as a repository: The Internet serves as a vast repository of knowledge and resources. Open-access educational content, including lectures, e-books, and research materials, is readily available to learners worldwide.
  • Transnational collaboration: Educational institutions and students engage in transnational collaboration. Online platforms facilitate global partnerships, enabling students to work with peers and experts from diverse cultures and backgrounds.
  • Examples:
  • Collaborative online projects like Wikipedia showcase the potential for global knowledge sharing and transnational collaboration.
  • Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) like Coursera and India’s Swayam have already revolutionized online education, offering courses from top universities and institutions worldwide.


In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” As we move forward, let us embrace the idea that education is an ongoing process, a lifelong companion that empowers us to face the unknown, conquer challenges, and unlock the limitless potential of the human mind. The future of education invites us to live and learn with a sense of purpose and curiosity, recognizing that the pursuit of knowledge is not bound by time or age.