Identifying the Educated Person

Education looked at as a social enterprise deemed essential for human survival, is a formal system extending from nursery school to prestigious universities. This is so in every civilised country in the world. Having gone through the system from infancy to youth and maturity, and acquired a formal education culminating in graduate and post-graduate qualifications, it is fair to assume that the end product would be an educated person. However, this is not always so. The word ‘product’ is unlikely to be associated with a truly educated person. It has the connotations of a process conducted on factory premises. This process, at best, is training for a specific purpose, such as a job, profession, or career. It also has associations of standardisation, which may cater to the ambitions of the vast majority of people. But the truly educated person, is his own person, and is unique. He or she stands out from the crowd. He/she is likely to be well-trained to hold a position of responsibility within an organisation, but that is not what defines him/her.What distinguishes the truly educated person is his/her independence of thought and strength of character. The mass market does not necessarily enthral such people. For such persons education does not stop with the acquisition of degrees. Education for them is a lifelong process. An educated person is unlikely to be a celebrity. They do not seek publicity at any cost. They are persons of integrity. They usually abide by the society’s norms, but will always challenge them, if they are unjust, or indefensible. However badly or indifferently they were treated during their lifetime, posterity will always accord them their due. Think of Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King,and Nelson Mandela. Of course great intellects of the calibre of Newton and Einstein are among the educated. So are those who developed their aesthetic sensibilities through art, music, drama and literature. Who would forget Michael Angelo, Beethoven, Shakespeare, and Tolstoy? What about the philosophers, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle? Innovators in any field or discipline, including religious leaders like Buddha and Confucius, were not only among the educated, but they were also great educators.That brings us to the role of the teacher in education. The teacher does not know it all. As Galileo said, ‘You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him find it within himself.’ Any other form of teaching would be indoctrination. Telling others what to think is not teaching. On the other hand, as Epictetus, the Greek philosopher said, ‘Only the educated are free.’ Teaching is a collaborative effort as exemplified by the Socratic dialogue. People learn not only from teachers at a school or university but from almost everybody around them starting with parents, close relatives, even neighbours, and continuing their education through books and other media. The educated person is all too aware, that he/she knows very little, and therefore is always prepared to learn.Increasingly, we are told that we live in a knowledge society, the post-capitalist society. This means that there are such sheer volumes of information now than ever there was on the planet. All this information is embodied in books, databanks, and software programmes, but their possession is not equated with education. It is the educated person who embodies and manages such knowledge in the interests of total global well being. As Bill Gates has demonstrated, with knowledge as the key resource, the educated person faces new demands, challenges, commitments, and responsibilities. We are not talking of ‘polymaths’ here, which is a concept from the past, perhaps only applicable to Leonardo da Vinci. The truly educated person now has to be a citizen of the world with deep and genuine empathy for others from quite different cultural milieu. It helps if the educated person travels to other parts of the world and gains first-hand experience of conditions far from home. ‘Think globally, act locally’ is likely to be the motto of today’s educated person.To conclude this essay two well-known educators are cited. They have listed what they think are qualities needed which define the educated person. John Taylor Gatto who was once named New York State’s Teacher of the Year lists the following:1) Establish an individual set of values but recognize those of the surrounding community and of the various cultures of the world.
2) Explore their own ancestry, culture and place.
3) Are comfortable being alone, yet understand dynamics between people and form healthy relationships.
4) Accept mortality, knowing that every choice affects the generations to come.
5) Create new things and find new experiences.
6) Think for themselves, observe, analyze, and discover truth without relying on the opinions of others.
7) Favor love, curiosity, reverence and empathy rather than material wealth.
8) Choose a vocation that contributes to the common good.
9) Enjoy a variety of new places and experiences but identify and cherish a place to call home.
10) Express their own voice with confidence.
11) Add value to every encounter and every group of which they are a part.
12) Always ask: Who am I? Where are my limits? What are my possibilities?Adapted from Gatto, John Taylor (2009) Weapons of Mass Instruction, New Society Publishers.A shorter list from another source reads:1) Has a deep and genuine empathy, striving to understand others, with the ability to withhold their own judgment until they are sure they do understand.
2) Is sensitive to the psychological, physical, moral and cultural milieu in which they find themselves, showing respect and caring at all times.
3) Has a clear understanding of their own values, wants and preferences without wishing to impose these on others.
4) Is independent within the constraints of collaborative living, in action and thought taking responsibility for the health and well-being of their body and their mind.
5) Understands the connectedness of everything in the world, and even in the universe and so acts responsibly in everything they do.
6) Is congruent, meaning that the person will be comfortable in their own skin, able to acknowledge their own feelings and the feelings of others without condescension.

7 Insightful and Timeless Quotations on the Importance of Knowledge and Education

All through history, great thinkers from all areas of society have spoken on the importance of having a good education, but recently the importance of a good education has been under attack. Critic’s claim it’s gotten too expensive and has very little value compared to its costs.History as well as the current geopolitical circumstances proves that the long term cost of an uneducated society can be even more disastrous. With so many nations developing at a frantic rate, the need for a top notch education system can’t be overestimated. In order for us to remain competitive we need people with the knowledge, skills and discipline for the next century. Many developing nations already recognize that their most valued asset is their young. In some countries after a person graduates from high school, they’re required to either join the military or go to college, cost free. Both are part of a continuing education that helps impart critical thinking skills, discipline, and life skills. Some countries even recognized that education is a right and not a privilege as some claim.After years of researching and collecting quotations for my books as well as motivation material for my sales force, I’ve compiled an extraordinary amount of wisdom on the importance of having a good education. The amount of wisdom that I’ve compiled is too large for an article of this size, so I’m only listing several of my favorites. Some of my other articles are about the profound wisdom passed down the ages, but without a solid education and good critical thinking skills they lose most of their insight.If you think that education is expensive, try ignorance. – Derek Bok 1930 -; American lawyer & educator.A proper education is now mistakenly thought as a business rather than an investment. We don’t live in a bubble and a society with a sub-par education system will feel its effects for decades to come in all sectors of society. The fact is that in the long run, education pays out dividends far more valuable than money or wealth.Liberty cannot be preserved without general knowledge among the people. – John Adams 1735 – 1826; American Politician, 2nd President of the U.S., a founding father of the U.S., diplomat, & first Vice President of the U.S.People from all nations, in all areas of society; instinctually know that education is essential, if people want to keep their freedoms. An uneducated population is susceptible to manipulation by the powers that be, who can use various techniques to influence one or thousands of people into action or inaction. (See my other article on communication)Let’s trace the birth of an idea. It’s born as rampant radicalism, then it becomes progressivism, then liberalism, then it becomes moderate, conservative, outmoded, and gone.- Adam Clayton Powell Jr. 1908 – 1972; American politician & pastor.One of the facts of life is change and most change comes with the birth of new ideas. At first people are suspect of new ideas because it challenges the conventional thinking, interferes with their current beliefs, will require people to make changes that many have gotten used to, or interferes with the benefits that most people derive from the current system, even though the current system cause a tremendous amount of problems for the vast majority.As more and more people get used to the idea and see the benefits, it moves along its life cycle. Until finally, due to enormous other changes occurring in the world, the idea is no longer feasible because it’s incompatible with the changed world. Eventually needing to be replaced with newer ideas.It’s useful to take away 2 things in regards to this quote. One: Change is always needed and constant. Two: The life cycle of an idea as well as where that idea is in its life cycle. Communism for example would be on the outer edges of “Outmoded” just about to cross over into gone.New ideas are always needed but they also need to be critically scrutinized as to their costs and benefits without regard to the challenges they provide to the current established ideas. Emotions need to be taken out of the equation. Done properly, idea’s like Communism would never have taken hold and rightly so, didn’t in most parts of the world. Due to constant change cause by flood of new ideas, we need people with proper knowledge and education to critically evaluate every aspect of these new ideas.I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand. – Confucius 551 BC – 479 BC; Chinese teacher, politician, & philosopher. Nothing substitutes for experience. Knowledge and education are incomplete without experience. You can learn the concepts but to gain understanding, you have to put those concepts to practice or full use. This is why internships and apprenticeship programs are so essential.Those that know, do. Those that understand, teach.- Aristotle 384 BC – 322 BC; Greek philosopher, polymath, & one of the fathers of Western philosophy. This quote has been butchered in recent times to “Those that can, do! Those that can’t, teach!” Nothing can be further from the truth. Why would someone that can’t do something, teach it? We need to honor our teachers and not degrade them. If you know a thing or two, spread the knowledge if you’re able.The ignorant are always prejudiced and the prejudiced are always ignorant. – Charles V. 1500 – 1558; Holy Roman Empire Emperor.Ignorance and prejudice go hand in hand. Prejudice usually grows out of ignorance. Most of the time people are prejudiced because they don’t have full knowledge or understanding of the other person or idea. They haven’t taken the time to acquaint themselves with the other side. Once you fully understand another person or idea, only then can you fairly judge. One of the perks of a good education is realizing how limited your knowledge is, which is why education should be a right.Sell (or give) a man a fish, he eats for a day, teach a man how to fish, he eats for the rest of his life. – (Possibly coined by Karl Marx. Often attributed to Chinese philosophers Lao Tzu 6th century BC; Chinese philosopher. (A.k.a. Laozi, circa 5th century BCE) and Confucius 551 BC – 479 BC; Chinese teacher, politician, & philosopher. Although sometimes attributed to Jesus Christ, this proverb does not exist in the Bible’s New Testament.It is better to teach someone to self-sustain rather than sustain them indefinitely. This is one of the primary reasons for a good education system. A person with a good education will not only survive in the real world but depending on their level of education, can thrive. Thus creating opportunities, exemplifying creativity, and discovering new knowledge that benefits all of humanity.BonusExperience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterward.- Chinese ProverbSometimes, the only way to get good experience is to get in there and make your mistakes. Take your lumps. Failure isn’t failure but lessons toward success.