DateEducation is considered one of the pillars of social, economic, and cultural development. In fact, education is the only thing that has enabled globalization to become a success. One cannot talk of technology or globalization without realizing the impact or the role of education in these areas. However, do we really know what to be educated really means? Well, this question has been asked several times. Many scholars in education and outside education continue to debate on this topic. Today I join this conversation in response to the article by Kohn Alfie “What Does It Mean to Be Well-Educated?” Being educated is relative and depends on individual society.
All my school life, I have spent more time reading and doing tests and exams than any other activities. I have spent time in class reading, completing assignments and exams in order to achieve an education. Mrs. Kohn, who have spent 29 years schooling yet she does not have fluency in English language or simple multiplication, despite being a qualified and a successful physician for that matter (Kohn Para 1). Most of us fall in the same category of “educated” people. Personally I do not remember anything I learnt in my biology class in high school. Would anyone call me a person not well educated then? I have over the years gained a lot of knowledge through education, just like Mrs. Kohn. In the eyes of the teacher who taught me that particular discipline, I am not a well educated individual.
If then being educated means being able to remember facts, theories and concepts as taught in class, then there is nobody who is educated. Even an English professor who is renowned as the best in the University may not be in a position to remember any calculus mathematics that he took back in high school. Yet he is termed as well educated. Similarly Mrs. Kohn is not uneducated; she is just concentrated on acquiring the necessary knowledge and skills to enter the job market. She is fulfilling the goals of education as defined by the government and the corporate world. Whereas employers look for educated individuals, they are not interested in those who can recite what they learned in class, they are looking for people who can integrate the learnt knowledge into their work.
Scholars like William Cronon agree that being educated is not about how much a person knows. Cronon argues that, “More than anything else, being an educated person means being able to see connections so as to be able to make sense of the world and act within it in creative ways…listening, reading, writing, talking, puzzle‐solving, seeing the world through others’ eyes, empowering others, leading—every last one of these things is finally about connecting.” (75). But from Cronon’s view, it means that anyone with this traits or able to fulfill these characteristics is educated, including those who have not been in school or have received any formal education. This to some extent conforms to Kohn’s argument that, if we evaluate individuals against their education, it would mean that many people would be uneducated. This is because, argues Kohn, one would be evaluated on what he or she knows now and what he or she learnt in school. If this was the case, then most people, if not everyone would not be “well educated”.
Education is meant to improve our perception of the world, increase our understanding of each other, enhance life and generally bring happiness. Stevens for example believes that, a good education is all about establishing habits of mind such as curiosity, criticism, analysis, creativity and problem solving; the potential to make things, to fulfill or satisfy a need or just to have fun; and the ability to love oneself, others, and the environment and to establish an appropriate balance between one’s own needs, that of other people and of the natural world (Para 4). But if this is the case, then nobody can be said to be educated. The Congress for instance is always in loggerheads over petty issues. They always seem not to agree on matters several issues including on health care plan. One would expect or it is perceived that, they are well educated people in congress. Similarly, if we are “educated” as the governments across the world spend so much on education, why can’t at least be harmony, respect for one another, and for the environment?
In conclusion, I believe being educated is a relative term. The world of today for example has many people who are educated, yet there seems to be more problems with petty issues. They cannot offer solutions to problems, and are the cause of these problems. Being “well educated” is relative and can only be attributed to a given society. Every country, society as well as individual defines being well educated differently. Ultimately, I concur with Stevens view of what being education means. Cronon also summarizes what being well educated should entail. Like Mrs. Kohn, most people are educated, but the definition of what “well educated” means remains elusive.
- Cronon, William. “” Only Connect…” The Goals of a Liberal Education.” The American Scholar (1998): 73-80.
- Stevens Sabrina. What Does It Mean to Be Well-Educated? 11/10/2010. Web. 11/11/2014. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sabrina-stevens-shupe/what-does-it-mean-to-be-w_1_b_781240.html
- Kohn Alfie. What Does It Mean to Be Well-Educated? 03/03. Web. 11/11/14. http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/welleducated.htm