What does school look like?

School is the place we go to learn things, to gain an education that can then enable us to go on to live life and have a career. However, could it be that this is a very narrow image of what school actually is?

First of all, what exactly do we do at school? We go there to gain an education is the simple answer. According to various dictionary definitions, education is the acquiring of knowledge and skills whilst preparing oneself for mature life. And clearly, it cannot be disputed that this aspect of education that is related to gaining the necessary skills for the job or career that one wishes to pursue, are found in our traditional education institutions such as schools, colleges and universities.

However, there is another aspect of education which goes far beyond the preparation for a job, if we are open to it. This is an education that takes us on the journey of continuously learning from what is presented before us so that we can have greater awareness of ourselves, the patterns in our life that may hold us back, and the world we live in.

Therefore, taking this into consideration, it could be seen that ‘school’ actually goes way beyond those buildings and institutions that we normally relate to this word.

For example, a person could have an accident and sprain their ankle whilst they are running, and instead of just seeing it as a case of bad luck or incorrect technique, they may see it as an opportunity to learn something about themselves, what they are doing and why they are doing it. They may even come to the conclusion that the accident was a message to slow down, connect more to the body and not to push it so much.

Another example is when we have an argument with someone, instead of just thinking we are in the right while the other is in the wrong, it could be that this is a moment to reflect on why we are reacting in this way, therefore taking away the blame and gaining more of an understanding of ourselves, which could then potentially benefit all our relationships.

If we take a moment to consider the fact that every part of every day we come across situations and incidents from which we can learn, then in fact, we are actually always at ‘school’, whatever we are doing in life and wherever we are; whether driving our car, sharing a meal, playing a game, having a conversation, being on holiday etc.

Could we even consider the fact that everything around us is a symbol communicating something for us to learn from?

If this were the case, then there truly would be no getting away from the fact that we are always at ‘school’. Not the arduous ‘school’ where we are always being tested, pushed to get certain results and often feeling like a failure, but a joyful loving school that not only is continuously confirming the grandness that we are and come from, but also forever presenting us with messages and situations that allow us to learn and evolve in preparation for the next.

This in effect would also make us the forever student. Not the student who is pushing themselves for the end result and a sense of achievement, but the loving student who continuously appreciates and confirms where they are at and what they have learnt so as to be ready for the next lesson, and the next, knowing that there is no end result considering that we are always at school and there is always something that can be learnt.

This kind of education may not be as obvious as getting the qualifications that we need to get the job we want, but it could be seen that these kinds of learnings which are available to us 24/7 are priceless, and possibly of more value than anything we are going to get out of a textbook.

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  • By Eleanor Cooper, BA (Hons), PGDip teaching English language, English Co-ordinator and Tutor

    As a teacher of English as a foreign language, I love connecting to people from around the world. I’m also interested in education and well-being, and enjoy writing, cooking and socialising.

  • Photography: Rebecca W., UK, Photographer

    I am a tender and sensitive woman who is inspired by the playfulness of children and the beauty of nature. I love photographing people and capturing magical and joyful moments on my camera.