In The Schoolmaster, written in 1570, Roger Ascham compares schooling to experience, and he takes the stance that learning is much more desirable than experience. He argues that a man will learn more within a year than he would in twenty years of experience, that experience is dangerous while learning is safe, and that man will only become miserable because of his experiences. Ascham's beliefs are true, but his principles can only relate to a man who is satisfied with living a superficial life; that is, an existence in which he is only seemingly wholly content with himself and his surroundings, willing to stay in a narrow box of conformity. What Ascham doesn't realize is that learning and experience provide two different levels of understanding, each with its own level of importance. Experience is a type of learning within itself, learned through hardship and misery. Although learning may teach safely and a man may not feel this affliction through his schooling, he is only shrouding himself with a drape in an attempt to hide from the world and, more importantly, himself. And although experience may be devastating, and shattering for the heart at times, the long-term wisdom that man gains from experience, is by far the most valuable sort of lesson.
Roger Ascham comments at the beginning of the passage that, "learning teacheth more in one year than experience in twenty." It is true that in one year a man will learn far more information in a single year of schooling than he would from only enduring hardship. A man will even absorb knowledge that will help him to "succeed" in life and gain the necessary skills to make substantial earnings and he will find that he may even be considered a great scholar because of his knowledge. It is this sort of learning that molds men into lawyers and merchants and politicians, men whose scholasticism we greatly value today, but not necessarily the men whose persona we admire. However, Ascham's argument must be questioned. Is...
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