Education is such an important part of our lives that as soon as a child starts speaking, his/her parents start worrying about enrolling him/her in an educational institution. While an academic institution is one of the first things that comes to mind of a child when he/she hears about education, education in school is but only one of countless forms of education. In order to better understand the concept of education, it is a useful activity to pay attention to some of its many definitions.
An education could be understood as the process of helping individuals better understand themselves. Whether we receive education in a formal environment such as in schools and colleges or in an informal environment such as through life experiences, we get to know ourselves better such as our strengths, weaknesses, and interests. The fact that education helps us better understand ourselves is quite evident when people choose college majors on the basis of what they enjoyed learning about in school or what they did well in. People do not have same characteristics and it is through education they get to know themselves better and how they differ from others.
An education could also be defined as the tool of advancing mankind’s collective knowledge in different areas such as business, science, arts, and politics. Nations invest in the education of their children and adults so that these individuals help push the boundaries of knowledge which also carries tremendous economic and social benefits with it. There is a reason Swiss Psychologist described the purpose of education to create men and women who invent new ways of doing things (Price-Mitchell).
Education can also be understood as the process of making individuals more productive and responsible members of the society. For example, one of the social issues that is at the forefront is environment because there are concerns the damage to the environment may soon be beyond repair unless dramatic steps are taken to contain the damage. Not surprisingly, different educational campaigns have been launched in print and electronic media as well as academic institutions (Center for Ecoliteracy) to raise environmental concerns and utilize the influence and the resources of the general public.
Education can also be defined as the instructions children receive to better fit in the societies they are born into. Children are born without cultures, thus, education teaches them the values and rules that will ensure their survival in the society (Encyclopaedia Britannica). Upon further reflection, it is clear that human beings are not unique in this regard but even different animal species also provide education to their off springs to increase the probability of their long-term survival in often hostile living environments.
Education is also the process of helping individuals become better thinkers (McKeown) because bold thinking is required for the economic and social progress of mankind. When we enter college, education we receive is not only focused on transmission of existing mankind knowledge but also to teach us to think critically and objectively. Students are taught to differentiate between opinions and facts and it is not a surprise that people who can think independently often make valuable contributions to the progress of the society.
Education could also be understood as the process of helping individuals identify their career call in life. One of the major aspects of college education is requiring students to choose a major so that their education can be centered on their targeted career. In other words, just as education is helping individuals think critically, it is also the transmission of ideas and facts that have been established in a particular profession or field of knowledge.
We start engaging in education processes almost immediately after we are born even if some of the education takes place subconsciously. Education takes place at both formal and informal levels and serves different purposes and functions, depending upon the person. Education is more like a journey rather than a destination and continues until our last breathe.
- Center for Ecoliteracy. Discover Exemplary Schools. 13 September 2014 http://www.ecoliteracy.org
- Encyclopaedia Britannica. Education. 13 September 2014 http://www.britannica.com
- McKeown, Rosalyn. What is ESD? 13 September 2014 http://www.esdtoolkit.org/
- Price-Mitchell, Marilyn. The Moment of Youth. 12 May 2014. 13 September 2014 http://www.psychologytoday.com/