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What it is that constitutes a well-educated person is a much-debated topic. The answer to this question has got to be more than simply the amount of time that a person has spent gaining knowledge. What use is that knowledge is the person is not able to use and apply it to their everyday lives? By looking at and defining certain terms we can come to a conclusion that people who exemplify the title of being well educate are able to show some level of success in the area of their learned knowledge.
There are people that have had little formal education that could be considered well-educated, while there are others who have had extensive formal education who wouldn’t be able to carry that title. A person who is considered well educated shouldn’t be able to hold that title just because they have attended a large amount of schooling. Education should be near to the heart of every person on the face of the planet. Without education of some level we’d still be hunting caribou with spears and beating two rocks together and hoping to get a spark for a fire.
But the question, though, isn’t “is education important”, but rather “what constitutes a well-educated person? ” This is a highly discussed topic. But I believe the answer to it is quite clear. A well-educated person is someone who can be successful in real life application of what he/she has been taught. The dictionary defines well educated as being highly educated or having extensive information or understanding. (thefreedictionary, 2012. ) It would be presumptuous to claim to be more intelligent than a dictionary, but I disagree with this definition. The key to accurately defining this term is correctly understanding one word, well.
In going back to the dictionary we see that the word well is translated as meaning satisfactory. (thefreedictionary, 2012. ) We have to say that the appropriate question then is not what is well-educated person, but does this person have satisfactory education. So how do we know is a person has a satisfactory education? It has got to be more than just the amount of education or information that the given person has received. Just because a person has been in a higher education course for 10 years doesn’t mean that when a task comes up the person proves to be satisfactorily educated.
Well-educated means a person has a quality education and not just a quantity of education. Two close friends of mine prove this point. Bobby is an incredible seventy-five year old man in who much is to be respected. At first glance you wouldn’t know it, but his “proper” education level only reaches the eighth grade. He was forced to drop out of school to help provide for his struggling family as a teenager. He is one of the most well respected and honored leaders in our community. Through a series of events he started a company that was very successful.
His net worth is over five million dollars. Bobby’s wisdom and knowledge would take a college degree to even begin to dissect. On the other hand I have a friend named Anthony. Anthony is in his thirties and is really an incredible person. He has committed much of his life to furthering his education and now has two masters’ degrees. If Anthony were to write you a letter you wouldn’t even recognize half the words because he is such a bad speller. Also, he often seeks the guidance of others in his job because he lacks confidence to do it well in spite of his vast education.
There, then, is a big difference in the definitions of the words well education and highly educated. If being well educated is more than just a great amount of knowledge given to a person, what are the signs of a well educated person? The first indicator that a person is well-educated is that they have learned how to learn. Anyone can be force feed an immense amount of information, but what really makes someone successful is being able to be a life long learner. Douglas Everett said, “A mark of a well educated person is not necessarily in knowing all of the answers, but knowing where to find them”.
This describes a person who doesn’t just know stuff, but instead knows how to learn and the process it takes to do so. Another way to gauge if someone is well educated is by looking at their competency in the area of their education. It is different to be able pass a written exam on a subject and to truly understand how to apply what is that has been taught to the real world. The term well educated alludes to competency while highly educated refers to the amount of education given regardless of the retention or pplication of that knowledge.
If you don’t understand what it takes to use what has been learned, then the time spent gaining the knowledge was to no avail. The last thing that for me that exemplifies a well-educated person is by looking at their level of success in their area of study. It doesn’t matter how much you know if what you know isn’t useful to make you successful. This brings the last point to a higher level. It says that you are not just competent in your understanding of a subject but you are successfully implementing that in your life.
What’s the point of education if it doesn’t help us succeed in life and how can we be considered well educated if that knowledge isn’t breeding that success? If this definition of well education were adopted, would that have to change the way that students are being taught? Students need to be taught by first looking through the filter of this definition. Are these students learning the art of learning? Do these students really grasp what is being taught? Do students understand what it takes to make this principal successful in real life applications?
When answering these questions, I believe it’s safe to say that most high school graduates aren’t well educated, but have rather had a lot of information given to them over a long span in a “career” of education. The key is finding the way to bring students from just “knowing facts” to being well education and successfully performing tasks that reflect that. For me, the best was to learn something well is by doing while learning. The term for this style of learning is experiential learning. But that’s just it, it takes looking at the individual student and teaching to his/her learning style and that’s not going to look the same every time.
So what really is it to be well educated? In order to have a satisfactory education you must be able to perform successfully in the areas that you have been taught, if you cannot, then the time and effort put into learning was of no use. Even in stating that, I agree with Alfie Kohn in his article “What does it mean to be well educated” (2003) when he states that its really more important to figure out the qualities of a school that gives a good education instead of debating what it is to be well educated.
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