I've always thought of myself as pretty egalitarian sort of a person. I have friends of every age and many colors, I could give a rip how much money someone has. Country of origin is something of interest, not something to look down upon. But in a recent conversation, I came to the realization that I'm an education snob. Thinking about it, I realize I pretty much always have been.
When I was in the 5th or 6th grade, I was having a conversation with a friend and mentioned Lucrezia Borgia.
My friend replied, "I don't know her, whose class is she in?"
"She doesn't go to school here, she was Pope Alexander Borgia's daughter."
"I thought the Pope's name was Paul."
"No, not the guy who's Pope now, the Borgia's were at the end of the fifteenth century."
That got me the "what planet are you from?" look I have since become so familiar with (and frequently use on my beloved Engineer.)
I was flabbergasted. How could anyone not know who Lucrezia Borgia was? I took a poll. I asked all of my friends and quite a few adults who Lucrezia Borgia was. None of my friends knew, my teacher didn't know. The principal did. Mom did. Dad didn't. It hadn't seemed like an esoteric bit of information until Dad didn't know. That was what convinced me that just because a person didn't know who Lucrezia was it didn't mean they were dumb. They just didn't know. I came to the realization that book-knowledge does not intelligence.
This is a good thing to know.
A couple days ago I was describing my family tree when it was pointed out to me that the qualifier I placed on each branch of the tree was level of education. I took a mental step back and reviewed my description and, dang, that was the thing I mentioned as most important.
So I've been thinking about it. Education is important. Not most important, but very important. I think most important is character. No amount of education can make up for deficits in character. My Creepy Cousin Eddy may have a doctorate of jurisprudence, but he sure isn't anybody I'd ever want to associate with; he's not nice.
The value of education is not that you know who Lucrezia Borgia was, it's that it becomes part of you. It opens wider your window on the world. A good education should teach you how to learn.
Life can throw so much at a person. A person could lose his job, get hit by a car, lose all his savings and end up living in a refrigerator box under an overpass, but if he has an education he has a foundation to rebuild on.
Is education something I should be a snob about?
Probably not. Everyone does not have equal educational opportunity, nor does everyone have equal ability to acquire book learning. That doesn't make they any less of a person, it's just part of what makes them unique.