Definition Essay On Education

According to the Oxford English Dictionary one of the definitions of the word “education” is: “The systematic instruction, schooling or training given to the young in preparation for the work of life; by extension, similar instruction or training obtained in adult age. Also, the whole course of scholastic instruction which a person has received. Often with limiting words denoting the nature of the predominant subject of the instruction or kind of life it prepares, as classical, legal, medical, technical, commercial, art education.” Although this is an accurate description of what an actual education may be, there is a great deal more to the process of becoming educated than the actual instruction and schooling one may receive.

If you asked a person in high school or college exactly why he is in school his response would probably have something to do with “getting an education.” Is that really why he is there? The next question you may ask is “what are you going to do with your education?” The response would undoubtedly include something about “getting a good job” or perhaps “to make a lot of money.” Most of the people in the United States have been brainwashed to think that unless one has at least a high school diploma there is no future anywhere for him. This is completely untrue. There is no guarantee that getting a high school “education” is going to get you anywhere. A student may spend eight years between high school and college getting an “education.” He can graduate from college with A’s in every class, but still, this “education” means nothing. For example, suppose this “Straight A” student goes for a job interview. Obviously one of the first things to be looked at is the college diploma. Good grades, which by today’s standards are an indication of an educated individual, are usually very helpful in getting a good job. But alone, good grades are a completely unfair indication of how a person will perform under the pressures of the real world. Instead of looking at a person’s grades during a job interview and deciding whether that person is eligible for a particular position, why not try something realistic? To determine a particular person’s “education” why not allow the individual to apply what he knows to his position in the workplace. This is the true test of what an education is. The application of knowledge acquired is a much better determinant of true education than whether or not a person got an A in Wood Shop or World History.

A good percentage of people in the United States graduated from high school. A smaller percentage of people graduated from college. Are these graduates educated? Knowing when the Civil War began does not make a person “educated.” Where is the real world application of this fact? For someone who is a History major it may prove to be an invaluable nugget of information. For others it will not do them a bit of good anywhere in a lifetime. A high school diploma or a college degree does not necessarily mean that an individual has an understanding of the real world. What it does mean, in fact, is that the holder of the degree or certificate has an understanding of the facts learned in school. Is being able to regurgitate information verbatim considered an education?  By the above definition, yes. It will give you a high school diploma.  But that does not really help a person in life. There is a lot more to it than that.

Take for example a high school English class. Every high school student has learned that when writing a list of things, everything in the list should be separated by a comma. This is true even before the words “or” and “and.” Now, take the aforementioned definition of the word “education.” You may notice that there is no comma after the word “schooling.” This is inconsistent with what is taught in high school. This missing comma, however, is intentional. The definition was copied exactly out of the Dictionary. From what was learned in high school English classes there should be a comma after the word “schooling.” Being able to recognize this missing comma is a good example of education; taking what was learned in high school or college and applying it to a real life situation can often prove to be extremely useful. The application of understood knowledge is much more of an education than is the meaningless regurgitation of dates, facts, authors, and other skills.

Take another definition provided for “education” in the Oxford English Dictionary: “The process of ‘bringing up’ (young persons); the manner in which a person has been ‘brought up’ with reference to social situation, kind of manners and habits acquired, calling or employment prepared for, etc.” This definition seems to make more sense. High school and college are not absolutely necessary in becoming educated. The skills acquired while being “brought up” can often prove much more useful in real life than can twenty years of gaining knowledge in a high school or college situation.

Education for most people should begin outside of the classroom. What is learned in school should not be considered an education. A better word one should consider is knowledge, or perhaps knowledge of information. Knowledge is gained in school. And knowledge is not an education in itself. Once a person can take his nuggets of information and apply them to everyday things then that person can consider himself educated. Until then, a high school or college education is as good as a book of facts. It is useful if you need to know something but worthless unless the information within is relative to the situation.

We have to learn during all of our lifetime. Since we were small, we have to learn how to stand, walk, talk,… Getting older, we learn about the world, why the leaves are green, why human can talk, why we need to communicate with others and how to make an effective conversation,… We can’t know anything if we don’t learn. But where and how we learn? The following essay can answer that question to some extents by defining two terms “education” and “personal development”.

Education in its general sense is a form of learning in which the knowledge, skills, and habits of a group of people are transferred from one generation to the next through teaching, training, or research. Education frequently takes place under the guidance of others, but may also be self-learning (Wikipedia). Dictionary.com defines education as a process of acquiring general knowledge, promoting the powers of reasoning and judgment, and of preparing individuals scholarly knowledge for mature life. Finally, Oxforddictionaries.com offers the definition of education as the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university.

These are the common interpretations of education. As can be observed, all of them contain several key words: knowledge, giving, acquiring, teaching,… Briefly, education is defined as the process of learning and acquiring information.

The word education is derived from Latin word educare which means ‘to nourish’, ‘to bring up’, and ‘to rise’. This means, educating a child means nourishing or bringing up the child according to certain ends or aims. Education is also derived from another Latin world educere. Education as educere is more acceptable as it means leading an individual out of darkness into light…

The most generally accepted forms of education are connected with years of schooling with variety of subjects, that is called formal education. Formal education refers to systems of schooling with levels respectively: preschools, primary schools, secondary schools, higher education (tertiaries, universities…). Formal education is based on curriculum, a set of courses and interaction between instructors and students.

However, in fact, not only learning at school is considered education. Beside formal education, there are also informal education and non-formal education.

Non-formal education provides knowledge, skills without the institutional environment of formal schooling. Some main forms are free education, self-learning and vocational education. Free school with the opening structure is the kind of school that is available to pupils without charge. Besides this, “free” also refer to freedom of speech. The second is self-learning. Individuals who follow self-learning are called “autodidact”. They spend a great deal of time reviewing the resources of libraries and educational websites, not attending classes. Some notable autodidacts are Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison, Leonardo da Vinci,… And, vocational education is a form of education focused on direct and practical training for a specific trade or craft like textile, mechanics,…

And the last one, informal education includes indigenous education (often in a post-colonial context) and education through recreation.

It is obvious that education is one of the most important concepts that plays a vital role in each individual’s life. Everyone should be aware that education is not all about studying and getting good marks. It is really a means to discover new things and increase our knowledge about the world. Formal studying at school is essential, but besides, self-learning is highly recommended for all people of all ages. Education is always a crucial area that should be under great consideration of every government and society.

The other concept that needs clarification is personal development. Personal development includes activities that improve awareness and identity, develop talents and potential, build human capital and facilitate employability, enhance quality of life and contribute to the realization of dreams and aspirations. When personal development takes place in the context of institutions, it refers to the methods, programs, tools, techniques, and assessment systems that support human development at the individual level in organizations (Wikipedia). In simpler words, personal development is a set of skills or qualities that everyone wants to achieve to maximize their potential and have a better future.

Personal development includes some activities like improving self-awareness, self-knowledge, building self-esteem, spiritual development, identifying or improving potential, enhancing lifestyle or the quality of life, improving social abilities, defining and executing personal development plans,… The concept covers a wider field than self-development or self-help: personal development also includes developing other people. For example, a skill in personal development that teachers should have is developing the potential of students or managers should know how to inspire employees,… Beyond improving oneself and developing others, personal development is a field of practice and research.

As a field of practice, it includes personal development methods, learning programs, assessment systems, tools and techniques. A well-known method is personal development planning (PDP). It is an action plan based on awareness, goal-setting, reflection, interests and preferences. PDP means to improve your ability to understand what and how you are learning, and to review, and take responsibility for your own learning, help you better manage the range of situations you will encounter in academia, work and life and have an intense relationship with the world of work where employers are demanding for adaption and flexibility of employees.

Education and personal development have a relation in the way they both develop a person. But education tends to be the field of acquiring knowledge about the world, while personal development is more about practicing to achieve useful skills for life. In fact, education is only one part of personal development. Therefore, beside learning from college education, students need to develop a personal development plan so that they can fill their skill gaps and become more adaptable, flexible and of course, more successful in the future.

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