Many once zealous witnesses like us who leave the organization do so having denied themselves the opportunity of completing their education. We took to heart articles such as the one published in the November 15th 2011 Watchtower that encourages young ones to pursue spiritual goals. It states that witnesses should get: “only as much education as is required to meet their basic needs while focusing on preparing themselves to serve Jehovah ‘with their whole heart, soul, strength, and mind.’ (Luke 10:27) These words encourage the faithful to resist the 'lure' of higher education.
Recently elders who allow their children to pursue higher education have had their qualifications for oversight reviewed and they may be asked to step down as the society has become increasingly anti-higher education. This means many capable intelligent witnesses of all ages find themselves trapped in lower paying roles because advancement requires qualifications they do not have. You may remember many janitors and window-washers in your congregation because of this. We leave the society with our heads full of knowledge that no longer has a purpose and is of little value in the outside world.
Now outside the confines of the organization you are free to review choices you made earlier in life and make decisions based on your abilities and potential rather than doctrine. We would urge you to grasp this opportunity and embrace it. Education enables you to think rationally, to recognize well researched articles and spot control hidden in poor argument. It encourages you to question the world around you and seek to make it better in a tangible way. It is a way of progressing in life and increasing your earning potential.
If you are approaching education later in life you may also have family and work commitments, but this is not an insurmountable barrier. In the UK the Open University designs courses for people in work and arranges tutorials on evenings and weekends. Other companies and colleges offer night schools and correspondence courses for people juggling education and other commitments. However we would urge you to research your education provider to ensure that they are reputable and that the qualifications they offer are recognized by employers. Post 18 education carries an element of expense so be sure that you are getting value for money and quality education.
Also if you are on a low income and receiving benefits check with the college or university to see if you are entitled to a grant. These are available to post 18 students and can help cover the cost of part or the entire course. Be proactive in checking out grants and scholarships and don’t underestimate what we are capable of achieving.
Take advantage of help lines and support staff to discuss your goals and they will be able to suggest the best courses to achieve your long term objectives. Even knowing that you have started to study can have a positive impact on potential employers since it shows you have taken the initiative to improve your circumstances and that you have self confidence in your abilities. In an increasingly competitive marketplace proactive people stand out.
If you feel that higher education and college are not something you wish to pursue because of guilt left behind by your JW indoctrination, then it would be wise to educate yourself about the Watchtower organization and its history. By reading books such as A Crisis of Conscience by Ray Franz and Combatting Cult Mind Control by Steve Hassan you can be freed of such guilt and be able to move forward confident in your decision. This is a good place for post witness education to start for any of us who have broken free from The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.
- Written by Jane Robertson
Witnesses have a fear of failure and low self esteem. For years we are told not to think too much of ourselves and that education is a selfish pursuit. IT can be really hard to overcome years of conditioning. There is also fear of looking out of place amongst younger students. But education can come in many forms and can include vocational and practical courses. If your brother has an interest in a particular area or other skills rather than positioning it as education you could position it as upskilling. Adults do this all the time to specialise and increase their earning potential. In these harsh economic times it is essential that we increase our prospects. Grants and aid are available but he has to want to do it.
Thanks for the great article. I wish I could convince my older brother, who has recently been disfellowshipped, to get himself an education. He says he can't afford it (he's a superintendent at an apartment complex), but I didn't have the money when I went to school either. That's what fin. aid is for.
I think he's too scared to understand what he's spent his life rejecting, but if he was happy where he's at, he wouldn't have done the things leading to his DF. :(
I told him it would give him a sense of accomplishment and a better shot at taking care of himself. Sadly, he becomes distant when I try to argue against the same people who would shun him when he's obviously depressed and in danger of hurting himself.