I had a student email and ask me the value of education in my life and in the lives of others. I said, damn, you would ask the goober what her opinion of education is. Then I had trouble answering. He wanted a couple sentences and I found it difficult to sum it up in a couple sentences. I gave him several paragraphs and said, you sort though it. Below is what I sent to him.
Education has allowed me to challenge myself intellectually and physically (the content is intellectual, the late nights and headaches cover the physical), overcome obstacles (how often do you deal with difficult students and stubborn profs, as well as deal with my own misgivings about my shortcomings - we are our worst critics), and thrive (I don't think I have ever felt so sure of a career choice and enjoyed a choice this much).
I honestly look at each day as a learning opportunity. I approach each class that way as well. I am not arrogant enough to think I have every answer. I am not embarrassed to say that sometimes students know when I don't (luckily this isn't too often or I wouldn't be getting very far - and I say that in jest). I constantly strive to improve myself through education however that happens. It could be just approaching a situation differently because I now understand the motivation of others involved. Or it could be knowing when to walk away. Or it could be knowing when to shut the hell up.
Damn - I guess I can't escape education because, for me, it isn't just the classroom and the academic setting - it's everything - every encounter, every interaction is a chance for me to glean something (good or bad).