Just like faith without actions is dead, so is education without action…dead

Recently, at a networking event, I watched the invited speaker’s talk and illustrative presentation be taken over by another woman.  In my disdain and annoyance at “take over” woman, I put my hand up and made an incoherent remark in the hope to deflect attention from her back to the speaker and to expose her as not being formerly educated in the field she was expertly commenting, which the other women of the audience were eating up like cereal.


Whether it worked or not I don’t know and hope not. Because, oh, how it grieved me to have done that! Why? Because it had not been my first assumption that “take over” woman did not purposely intend to take over and that perhaps she just got carried away. I had not assumed the best. And whatever is the truth between the best and worst assumption, it was not my place to try and fix it anyway.

So after a prayer to God asking for and receiving forgiveness for trying to be Holy Spirit junior, I began to experience the aftermath sting of a stunning slap in the face.  Exposed was the tasteless, lofty, proud entitlement and even arrogance the acquisition of a degree, diploma, honours, masters and Phd certificate instils, encouraged and exacerbated from the insisted upon graduation party to  the job application red tape and work place hiring practises. It is made into a big elitist deal and soon it becomes one. The formerly educated boldly and confidently expect to be hired above those who are less or not formerly educated in the subject matter of expertise or specialisation because job specs outline formal qualification as a minimum requirement. So, one mind numbingly boring internship, if at all, in hand, we strut our stuff; our curriculum vitaes and pieces of paper citing qualification confident that, we ought to be first preference and more than a head above the less, informally or if at all educated candidates.  But the truth is, qualification only and hundreds of rands on fees obtaining certificates has, for a long time now, not proved to be the only working formula to making it well and good.  Other things are at play.

For an extended period now, my fingers have been on the pulse of the stories of “made its” of the world. Reading up about their lives, where they started, what they had to endure beyond, go through and outlive to have arrived at where they got to be recognised as forces to be reckoned with. Amongst some distinct finds, one in particular stands out as I learn that a shockingly decadent portion of these “made its” are not at all formerly educated nor qualified in the fields in which they are forces to be reckoned with. And I’ve been closely on their trail, working to pick out the one common thread that is and makes the difference. And boy is it news for the entitled formerly educated elitists.

Truth is, although I know for a fact that “take over” woman is not formerly educated in the field that she is seriously and widely taken as some kind of expert on, she does know some things, and a lot of things at that, all of which, my educated guess is, she gained through reading, observing, asking and finding out. Research, we educated, call it.  It is not uncommon or out of the ordinary what she has done. She has informally enlightened thus effectively educated herself enough, about a subject matter she was formerly ignorant about, to actually make quality, valuable and interesting input and commentary and thus establish herself as a force to be reckoned with so much that she could take over a key note speakers’ presentation at an event and succeed. But the question persists, what is the difference between her and someone formerly educated in the subject matter so much that she has managed to be a head above?

And this is the find regarding what the “have made its” do and have done for years that is the difference. After they ask, read, find out and discover answers, they use the useful answers to build or create something with them. Their stories are, simply, ordinary stories about ordinary people who did something and ended up with extra-ordinary results.  And it has less to do with knowing and more to do with knowing and then doing, activating, applying and putting the knowledge to use.  If you’ve missed it, let me be clear, the difference is and has always been ACTION. Partnered with courage, persistence, determination, it has always been action!

Stunning isn’t it? The sting was saying,  who are you or anyone to try and take away from anybody who has done the above just because it is not witnessed to by some costly higher education institution piece of paper citing qualification?  What use is a qualification, the information it endows one with, if not acted upon and applied? Nothing. All information is only ever useful if activated with action, and this is what people like “take over” woman and the “made its” have simply done.  And for that, look at how much respect we all have for whatever the “have made its” of this world are known for, respected for and reap as returns from their actions?  I was reminded of a verse in the Bible in James2v17 where it clearly states that, faith (belief, believing) without action is dead. And I realized, so is education without action…dead.

By Nobuntu Mqulwana