Friday, March 30, 2007

Purpose of an Education

7366 asked:

what is the purpose of an education - like seriously speaking? Since you're a grad student - can you share some insights about life in general and why you chose this path?

Elia answered it for me:

I think the most valuable part of my undergraduate education was learning how to ask *good* questions and learning how to find ways to get them answered.


“Some universities teach skills. Some give you an education. Skills eventually become obsolete. But you’ll always have your education.”

Well actually, I was first exposed to it in DHS and it was from a Chinese teacher (Ha! I bet you thought I learned nothing from my Chinese classes.)

"学问! 你要学就要问。没人知道你就要自己找。"

I have many questions about the natural phenomena around us. I don't think I learned enough as an undergraduate to know the answers. That's why I am in Grad School. And I am still learning how to ask *good* questions and tear down fallacious hand-waving, hocus-pocus theories.

Trust me, there are aplenty of these in the physical and engineering sciences, especially when it comes to the frontiers (think nanotechnology).

The bottomline is never to accept anything at its face value.


Whatever may be the limitations which trammel inquiry elsewhere, we believe that the great state UNIVERSITY of WISCONSIN should ever encourage that continual and fearless sifting and winnowing by which alone the TRUTH can be found. - Plaque at the entrance to Bascom Hall, UW-Madison.


As an aside, there is this. (tip: ashke)

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