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What is your standard for an educated person? What is your standard for an educated person?
by Abdulhadi Hairan
2007-10-12 10:06:27
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Before I ask the question, let me tell you something about myself.

I belong to a very poor family of northern Afghan province Kanduz from where we were migrated Pakistan after the jihad against Russians was initiated. Like all other muslim Afghans, we were also "jihadized" and supposed to be very strict religious. So the only education source we had there was madrassa. My father admitted me to a madrassa and I studied there nearly 7 years. I have written that story here. (My Life in Madrassa)

Then I came to know that Madrassa's study was very limited. Some other incidents forced me to leave it which infuriated my father and I left my home too, and then went to a city called Lahore. There I learned Urdu and studied thousands of books. In those days I also learned my native language Pashto and studied several thousand more books. I had a thirst for learning. So I tried to learn more and more. I learned from every one. I learned from my co-workers, my room-mates, my friends and every one.

Then I returned home and one day tried to write my first article. A local Pashto magazine published the article which was written on Afghan conflict and that gave me coverage of more writing. So I wrote non-stop and on every subject. In less than one year, I was known as a "writer" in the area where we were living.

When I went back to Lahore, I focused on my Urdu and after some months' hard work tried to write some thing in that language but my grammar was not good so the attempt failed. But I continued to learn. Then came the day when my first Urdu article published in 2004 in Karachi. After that, I wrote many articles and stories in Urdu which were published in magazines and newspapers. My literary column in a weekly Urdu newspaper was so popular that known writers had written letters about it. One of them had once commented, "I don"t believe that Abdulhadi Hairan writes this column because Pashtoons can't write so good Urdu.'

My first job in the writing world was in that newspaper as proof reader and translator and later I wrote as columnist and feature writer. It was a job of very low salary but good than working at hotels and restaurants. Then I moved to Peshawar and got a job as sub-editor in a Pashto newspaper called Wahdat.

And now I work as News Editor of an Afghan news agency.

Meanwhile, one day I developed the idea of learning English and immediately began to learn it. I learned to read in a short time and then started writing. I have written numerous articles and stories till the date and most of them have been published. I must tell you that my English is still not good. I am still learning it. I want to learn it to the extent of a good command. There are many stories, novels and other stuff that are waiting to be written in English.

Still I can say that I am able to work in three languages. My native Pashto, Urdu (I am very good in both) and English. I have studied thousands of books of these three languages and have written on many subjects.

Now the question is that: Am I educated?

When I apply for a job or any thing, they ask for qualification and I don't have any certificate as I have never attended any school or college. All I have learned from books and reading.

So what do you think? Only those are supposed educated persons who have attended regular schools or colleges or they are also can be considered as educated persons who have good knowledge and skill of writing but never attended schools.

I must mention that, though I don't have any educational degree and certificate, they know me as a writer in Pashto and all the organisations I have worked with recognize me as a journalist.

But when it comes to the question, when some one asks me about my education, or some organisation ask for qualification, I don't know what to answer. Should I say I am educated or non-educated?

And what is your standard for an educated person?

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Sand2007-10-12 13:06:38
There are many accomplished and well known writers who did not get formal education. I have read that higher education can sometimes be a hindrance to good writing. I have been educated up through college but I am pretty sure, from what you have written, that your experience and industry has educated you far beyond what I know. I do not consider myself a writer since I have no professional experience in writing. My education has been in the arts but much of the best of what I have learned, I learned outside of school.

Emanuel Paparella2007-10-12 13:42:01
To answer both the editorial query on the cover and the one at the end of Mr. Hairan fine piece, an educated person is not a goal but a continuing process which ends only when one draws one’s last breath. Michelangelo was sculpting, and thus continuing his education, till a few days before his death at 89. He was sculpting his last of the five Pietas. When one compares the first to the last one is struck by the amount of education Michelangelo had acquired in 64 years. It was mostly in the form of self-knowledge. Knowledge, that is of one's humanity. Just as reason encompasses much more than rationality, education encompasses much more than the education of the mind; it encompasses the whole person who is made of body, mind and soul requiring the harmonization of the three. To merely educate the mind is to become a rationalist and a truncated person rationalizing what ought never be rationalized. To merely educate the body is to become an Epicurian. To merely educate the soul and the emotions is to become a disincarnated angel and ignore one’s humanity. Of the eleven men who cold-bloodedly planned the Holocaust at a Conference in 1942 in less than two hours and then managed its efficient execution in four short years, more than half had Ph.D.s conferred from German universities. Obviously those men were truncated men who had not been taught to educate the whole person and ended up dehumanizing themselves with a cohort of fellow Nazis; they were the sort of people that C.S. Lewis would call “men without chest,” who dishonored both their country and the schools they attended. It would have been better had they never gone to school.No, it is not the degree that makes the man but it is the man who honors or dishonors the degree he has attained and the school that conferred it.

trol2007-10-12 15:40:36
Absolutely agree with Paparella.
But I also understand that Mr. Hairan also appeals to certifications and all the practicalities that are needed when you are looking for a job. Good news are that more and more, people hiring will really look into your experience.

Emanuel Paparella2007-10-12 17:31:06
Ah, certification! That is another story. It is well proven statistically that a man with a college degree will earn more than double in a life-time than what somebody with a High School diploma will, and the gap keeps widening. There is something unfair about that, especially nowadays when education has been prostituted by "educrats" to industrial production and consumption wherein 60% of every taxpayer dollar earmarked for education goes to bureaucracy and administration. You are quite right, experience ought to count but the catch 22 is that the man with the college degree will tend to win in the competion even with less experience.

Jack2007-10-12 20:17:11
Life experience is an education in itself. A college professor who had more letters after his name than were actually in his name, was a brilliant man. Yet his incidental memory or short-term memory burned his classes all too often. He would frequently forget (for the 10th time?) to bring our graded Mid-Term tests (on his dresser), to tell us our ---[just fill in the blank here]. He also had numerous spelling errors, however I am guilty of this also.

Wisdom and education are certainly not mutually exclusive. I would rather have wisdom over education. I do have degrees but what comes at me in life was never covered by any text book I have ever read. With wisdom I may have avoided many mistakes...albeit there is intense learning through errors.

Abdulhadi Hairan, What experiences you have had in your life I could have only know through your writings, so please keep on writing. And thank you for sharing part of your life. You are a journalist and writer. I count that as a standard of being an educated. Nice work.

Emanuel Paparella2007-10-12 23:17:33
I would rather have wisdom than education. Good point Jack. There are indeed levels of education: education for the acquisition of information (the lowest kind), education for ideas, education for understanding and harmonization of ideas, and finally education for wisdom. While the first three can be taught in schools more or less competently, the last one, I am afraid no school will ever impart. We can only impart it to ourselves. The Greeks beginning with Socrates called it the practice of virtue and the coltivation of the soul. Post-modern Man looks in astonishment when this is as much as mentioned to him.

Ahmad2008-04-22 12:04:41
there are some people who have completed school but they don't know no things you are a good educated person

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