Education Vs. Motivation
It is a lack of education, they say. If people were better educated, they would make better decisions, we hear quite often. It is a lack of education that holds people back from achieving their dreams. If only we could better educate the population, we could lower the rates of the latest challenges that face our nation, etc.. Across all sectors of modern American life we hear this cry - if only people were better educated!
But is the above true? How can we be a sure? How do we know it is a lack of education that holds people back from achieving their goals and dreams in life? Do we accept the aforementioned explanation as gospel because it is true, or because it is popular and takes residence in the collective American psyche? Who convinced us that education is to blame for our shortcomings and lack of high-performance in all areas of life, and what authority do they have to make such a claim?
It is time we face reality. We live in the age of iEverything. Our world is more connected and wired and wireless than ever before. Never in the history of our species has more information been available to more people, and for free - than right now. Free courses at Ivy League schools? Go for it. Libraries? Still mostly free, and many are now online. Google? We've had Google for years now, and the amount of education available is perhaps limitless (just be sure that the source of the information you seek lines up with your personal beliefs and biases, of course).
Now I fully admit that I tend to be a bit more logical and rational than most, but even the skeptics of my ideas must find the concept of a "lack of education" as the culprit for our failings as a society to be quite troublesome, indeed, especially when considering the times; the largest storehouse of knowledge and information in human history, i.e., education, is available at the click of a button for any and all who desire its rewards. We know what we need to do and should be doing, and in the rare case that we do not, we can find the answers we seek. And thus, I believe we have it wrong:
It is not a lack of education that holds the masses back from achieving their goals, no, it is a lack of desire and motivation.
This a painful truth, thus few will speak of it bluntly and with authority. We (educators, executives, managers, coaches, athletes, employees, and students alike) seldom enjoy putting the blame squarely where it belongs - the self. It is much nicer for our ego to blame others or circumstance, and thus, a "lack of education" takes the blame away from self and directs it to faceless perpetrators we cannot control. As a society we feel good about this - for who truly desires to confront the shortcomings of the self? The authenticity and introspection required for such pursuits is rare; the results much too painful for most to accept. Thus, the blaming of others and the "lack of education" myth continues unabated to this day.
We constantly let ourselves and others off the hook with this thinking, and in all spheres of American life, Division I athletic circles included. Seldom do I see major influencers in business and sport speak truth in the face of what I believe are false beliefs. Even the high-performance authors, bloggers, and biohacking gurus are of the belief (at least publicly) that if only they could reach more people and educate them better, they could go about solving more of the challenges that plague our society. And while they yearn to reach the masses, have they not bothered to ask why the masses haven't discovered them?
Some general questions:
Is it a lack of education that...
- Causes Americans to eat too much processed food and too much sugar?
- Causes many to not sleep enough...by choice?
- Forces some of us to not work up to our abilities, and lose focus when we do work?
- Propels people to break the law and do things they know they shouldn't?
And the list goes on and on...
No, I do not believe a lack of education is to blame. We know that vegetables are healthier than sugary, processed foods. I do not buy the lack of education argument in respect to diet, at large. The issue of course is that vegetables don't taste as good as the sugary foods, it is that simple. Sleep? With a straight face, can one make a rational case that Americans are uneducated as to the importance of proper sleep? We know we should sleep more, and more consistently, myself included. I don't need to be educated more on the subject to know that six hours isn't enough for me - just listening to my body after a six-hour night compared to an eight-hour night is all the education I need. And you are no different. Neither are your children, your parents, the students you teach, or the athletes you coach. That many of us do not sleep enough is not a lack of education as to the benefits of sleep - we simply desire "XYZ" distraction over said benefits.
As a collective, for most the most part, by and large, we know. Our lack of self-discipline and high-performance in life is not for a lack of education, simply a lack of desire and motivation. I should note: I speak not of formal schooling in the above thoughts, but directly to the concept that one need not attain certain degrees or certifications to know that vegetables are a better choice than processed foods, and that seven hours of sleep provides greater health benefits than four. By blaming a lack of education we provide a scapegoat, and remove accountability and responsibility from the very lives that need it the most. The average person need not be educated on the deleterious effects of cell phone distraction; they know instinctively it is a major loss of personal productivity. The issue is not a lack of education, the question is, how much do they care? We know, and we've known. Do we care? What of our desire and motivation?