University Provides an Outline, Not an Education

May 15, 2018

“I know that no university exists that can provide an education:

what a university can provide is an outline, to give the learner a direction and guidance.

The rest one has to do for oneself.”  

 -Louis L’Amour, "Education of a Wandering Man"

 

I recently read the memoir of novelist Louis L'Amour, "Education of a Wandering Man".  L'Amour wandered the country from job to job as a hobo during the Great Depression with only a grade school education.  As he traveled and worked he read all the books he could get his hands on.  He made money to eat and read.  In addition to reading, he listened to others share their stories and stories of others.  

 

  

 

His memoir resonated with me because like L'Amour, I felt my schooling only provided a few guiding moments, but not much of an education.  It wasn't until my late twenties I discovered a love for reading old books, and this seems to be where my education began.  

 

I identified in his book what he would define as a good education.  

 

A good education is not found in a school

 

“I know that no university exists that can provide an education: what a university can provide is an outline, to give the learner a direction and guidance. The rest one has to do for oneself.”   

(Louis L’Amour, Education of a Wandering Man, Bantam Books, 1989, Pg.3)

 

“The idea of education has been so tied to schools, universities, and professors that many assume there is no other way, but education is available to anyone within reach or a library, a post office, or even a newsstand.”

(Louis L’Amour, Education of a Wandering Man, Bantam Books, 1989, Pg.2)

 

“Acquiring an education has many aspects, of which school is only one, and the present approach is, I believe, the wrong one. Without claiming to have all the answers, I can only express my feelings that our methods of instruction do much to hamper a child in learning.  Our approach is pedestrian. We teach a child creep when he should be running: education becomes a task rather than excitement.”

(Louis L’Amour, Education of a Wandering Man, Bantam Books, 1989, Pg.84)

 

“The roads to knowledge are many.”

(Louis L’Amour, Education of a Wandering Man, Bantam Books, 1989, Pg.87)

 

A good education comes only with a self-driven desire to learn

 

“There is no reason why anyone cannot get an education if he or she wants it badly enough and is persistent.”

(Louis L’Amour, Education of a Wandering Man, Bantam Books, 1989, Pg.15)

 

“If one really wants to learn, one has to decide what is important.” 

(Louis L’Amour, Education of a Wandering Man, Bantam Books, 1989, Pg.2)

 

“For one who reads, there is no limit to the number of lives that may be lived.”
(Louis L’Amour, Education of a Wandering Man, Bantam Books, 1989, Pg.21)

 

“Then, as many times since, I did not read from one book alone, but started several, anxious to get the flavor of each one and reluctant to wait until one was finished before dipping into another.”

(Louis L’Amour, Education of a Wandering Man, Bantam Books, 1989, Pg.50)

 

“I studied purely for the love of learning, wanting to know and understand.”

(Louis L’Amour, Education of a Wandering Man, Bantam Books, 1989, Pg.85)

 

“Let people know what you are looking for.  Often the best information will come from the least likely sources.”

(Louis L’Amour, Education of a Wandering Man, Bantam Books, 1989, Pg.151)

 

“Associate with the noblest of people you can find; read the best books: live with the mighty.  But learn to be happy alone.  Rely upon your own energies, and so not wait for, or depend on people, wrote Professor Thomas Davidson.”

(Louis L’Amour, Education of a Wandering Man, Bantam Books, 1989, Pg.195)

 

“The beauty of educating oneself as I was doing, or as anyone can do, is that there are no limits to what can be learned.  All that is learned demands contemplation, and so one is never at a loss for something to do.”

(Louis L’Amour, Education of a Wandering Man, Bantam Books, 1989, Pg.200)

 

“I do not need help, I need time.”

(Louis L’Amour, Education of a Wandering Man, Bantam Books, 1989, Pg.219)

 

A good education includes books that stand the test of time

 

“Books are the building blocks of civilization, for without the written word, a man knows nothing beyond what occurs during his own brief years.”

(Louis L’Amour, Education of a Wandering Man, Bantam Books, 1989, Pg.217)

 

“Books are precious things, but more than that, they are the strong backbone of civilization. They are the thread on which it all hangs, and they can save us when all else is lost.”

(Louis L’Amour, Education of a Wandering Man, Bantam Books, 1989, Pg.166)

 

“Books as books must be preserved.”

(Louis L’Amour, Education of a Wandering Man, Bantam Books, 1989, Pg.120)

 

“Long-lasting fame comes but to few.”

(Louis L’Amour, Education of a Wandering Man, Bantam Books, 1989, Pg.121)

 

“My library is not simply an accumulation of books, each book has its reason for being there, and there is no deadwood on those shelves.”

(Louis L’Amour, Education of a Wandering Man, Bantam Books, 1989, Pg.184)

 

“Anatole France wrote, ‘A good critic is one who relates the adventure of his soul among masterpieces. Unfortunately, we have few of those today.”

(Louis L’Amour, Education of a Wandering Man, Bantam Books, 1989, Pg.213)

 

A good education requires a good guide

 

“Upon the shelves of our libraries, the world’s greatest teachers await our questions.”

(Louis L’Amour, Education of a Wandering Man, Bantam Books, 1989, Pg.214)

 

“Education depends on the quality of the teacher, not the site or beauty of the buildings – nor I might add, does it depend on the winning record of the football team, and I like football.”

(Louis L’Amour, Education of a Wandering Man, Bantam Books, 1989, Pg.4)

 

“The loneliness of the at the mine never affected me, for I had many companions: Hopalong Cassidy, Hamlet, Sancho Panza, and Ulysses were with me.”

(Louis L’Amour, Education of a Wandering Man, Bantam Books, 1989, Pg.51)

 

“A book will do what no friend does – be silent when we wish to think, wrote Will Durant”

(Louis L’Amour, Education of a Wandering Man, Bantam Books, 1989, Pg.109)

 

“Nations are born, they mature, grow old, and almost die, butafter some years they rise again, and we in this country, as in all nations, need leaders with vision. H.G. Wells wisely said that, ‘Men who think in lifetimes are of no use to statesmanship.”

(Louis L’Amour, Education of a Wandering Man, Bantam Books, 1989, Pg.148)

 

 

A good education includes content with context

 

“A mistake commonly made by those who should know better is to judge people of the past by our standards rather than their own.  The only way men or women can be judged is against the canvas of their own time.”

(Louis L’Amour, Education of a Wandering Man, Bantam Books, 1989, Pg.25)

 

“We do not at present educate people to think but to have opinions, and that is something altogether different.”

(Louis L’Amour, Education of a Wandering Man, Bantam Books, 1989, Pg.85)

 

“A person or a situation can only be understood against the background of its own time.”

(Louis L’Amour, Education of a Wandering Man, Bantam Books, 1989, Pg.86)

 

“If we were to eliminate violence from our reading, we would have to eliminate all history, much of the world’s great drama, as well as the daily newspaper.”

(Louis L’Amour, Education of a Wandering Man, Bantam Books, 1989, Pg.97)

 

“Reading is never enough. One most know the land.”

(Louis L’Amour, Education of a Wandering Man, Bantam Books, 1989, Pg.107)

 

“I do not believe anybody has a right to alter history for the sake of a story.”

(Louis L’Amour, Education of a Wandering Man, Bantam Books, 1989, Pg.114)

 

“Each people is, I believe, inclined to believe it is the purpose of history, that all that has happened is leading to now, to this world, this country.  Few of us see ourselves as fleeting phantoms on a much wider screen, or that our great cities may someday be dug from the ruins by archeologists of the future.”

(Louis L’Amour, Education of a Wandering Man, Bantam Books, 1989, Pg.119)

 

“The key to understand any people is in its art.”

(Louis L’Amour, Education of a Wandering Man, Bantam Books, 1989, Pg.147)

 

“There is a tendency, I believe, sometime to judge the life-style of a whole people by what we know of a group.”

(Louis L’Amour, Education of a Wandering Man, Bantam Books, 1989, Pg.118)

 

“There is no great man in history who could have withstood the sort of journalism that focuses on issues of gossip.”

(Louis L’Amour, Education of a Wandering Man, Bantam Books, 1989, Pg.189)

 

A good education requires listening

 

“Mostly, I listened.”

(Louis L’Amour, Education of a Wandering Man, Bantam Books, 1989, Pg.29)

 

“People are forever asking me about where I get my ideas, but one has only to listen, to look, and to live with awareness.”

(Louis L’Amour, Education of a Wandering Man, Bantam Books, 1989, Pg.33)

 

“I learned that when I was in charge I should keep my eyes open and understand the situation before I moved.”

(Louis L’Amour, Education of a Wandering Man, Bantam Books, 1989, Pg.106)

 

 

A good education is lifelong learning

 

“Only one who has learned much can fully appreciate his ignorance.”

(Louis L’Amour, Education of a Wandering Man, Bantam Books, 1989, Pg.93)

 

A good education is lifelong teaching

 

“It is not enough to have learned, for living is sharing and I must offer what I have learned for whatever it is worth.”

(Louis L’Amour, Education of a Wandering Man, Bantam Books, 1989, Pg.168)

 

“Knowledge is like money; To be of any value it must circulate, and in circulating it can increase in quantity and hopeful in value.”

(Louis L’Amour, Education of a Wandering Man, Bantam Books, 1989, Pg.214)

 

“I think the greatest gift one can give another is the desire to know, to understand.”

(Louis L’Amour, Education of a Wandering Man, Bantam Books, 1989, Pg.88)

 

A good education is diverse

 

“It was never a part of my nature to focus on one area to the detriment of others.  I wished to understand it all, and to have a clear picture in my mind of what was happening in all parts of the world.”

(Louis L’Amour, Education of a Wandering Man, Bantam Books, 1989, Pg.169)

 

“Unfortunately, in most of our schools the history of Europe and North America is taught as if it were the history of the world.  The rest of the world is referred to only when Europeans or Americans were invading or trading.”

(Louis L’Amour, Education of a Wandering Man, Bantam Books, 1989, Pg.82)

 

“We must always understand, that what we have is only a small piece of history.”

(Louis L’Amour, Education of a Wandering Man, Bantam Books, 1989, Pg.176)

 

A good education includes writing and speaking

 

“Start writing, no matter about what.  The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.  You can sit and look at a page for a long time and nothing will happen. Start writing and it will.”

(Louis L’Amour, Education of a Wandering Man, Bantam Books, 1989, Pg.118)

 

“All young men and women owe it to themselves to be able to write a letter on not more than one page, to set birth an idea or possible plan.  This same young person should, in a few brief spoken words, be able to deliver that idea orally.”

(Louis L’Amour, Education of a Wandering Man, Bantam Books, 1989, Pg.186)

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