Of course you can’t learn everything from books or in a classroom. Who said that you could? Success requires innate abilities, instincts, experience, and street smarts. None of those come from a book, and very little of it can be taught.
But we go too far if we devalue education, and the things that we can learn in books and classrooms. We can always find examples of someone who succeeds without a formal education, whose grasp of reading, writing, and arithmetic is shaky at best. And we can find plenty of examples of people with stagnant careers and empty bank accounts that can diagram a sentence, find Timbuktu on a map, and solve a quadratic equation.
But I’d rather not have to choose between those extremes. If I could, I’d be someone who learns from books and from experience. If I could, I’d be literate and savvy. If I could, I’d take advantage of every opportunity to learn, from every available source. I’d never stop learning.
One thing I would never do, if I wanted to live a wise, good, and free life: mock or disparage the legitimate arts and sciences (use those street smarts to filter out the bogus stuff that clutters up the modern university). Western Civilization rose as far as it did because of an accumulated intellectual heritage. I wouldn’t take on great leadership responsibilities or thrust myself into the spotlight if I hadn’t mastered at least the basics of the wealth of the generations.