Monday, April 13, 2009

What is Education, Part 2

The word “education” means different things to different people. I decided to look in different dictionaries to see how the definition of education has changed. I was hoping to get more feedback from the first post about the definitions, but the response was minimal.
Following are two of the definitions I have chosen to show you:

In Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary of the English Language says;
“EDUCA'TION, n. [L. educatio.] The bringing up, as of a child, instruction; formation of manners. Education comprehends all that series of instruction and discipline which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, and form the manners and habits of youth, and fit them for usefulness in their future stations. To give children a good education in manners, arts and science, is important; to give them a religious education is indispensable; and an immense responsibility rests on parents and guardians who neglect these duties.”

In today’s Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary it says;
Education Pronunciation:\e-jə-kā-shən\ Function: noun Date:1531
1 a: the action or process of educating or of being educated ; also : a stage of such a process b: the knowledge and development resulting from an educational process 2: the field of study that deals mainly with methods of teaching and learning in schools — ed·u·ca·tion·al\-shnəl, -shə-nəl\ adjective ed·u·ca·tion·al·ly \-ē\ adverb

Random Thoughts of a Librarian-in-Training said, “‘educate’ comes from the Latin ex + ducere, meaning literally “to lead away” indicating that the process is one designed to take somebody from their previous activities and instill them in new, better pursuits.
The main difference which I see is that the first definition is trying to tell people how they should educate children whereas the second is simply doing the job of a dictionary and explaining what education is. Perhaps more light might be shed on the subject by Merriam-Webster’s definition of “educating” or of being “educated” as the definition hinges on the definitions of these two words.”

Then I decided to look up the words educating and educated. I have put those definitions below; they are from the Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary.

Educate Pronunciation: \ˈe-jə-ˌkāt\ Function: verb Inflected Form(s): ed·u·cat·ed; ed·u·cat·ing Etymology: Middle English, to rear, from Latin educatus, past participle of educare to rear, educate, from educere to lead forth — more at educe
Date: 15th century transitive verb
1 a: to provide schooling for b: to train by formal instruction and supervised practice especially in a skill, trade, or profession2 a: to develop mentally, morally, or aesthetically especially by instruction b: to provide with information : inform 3: to persuade or condition to feel, believe, or act in a desired way intransitive verb: to educate a person or thing

Educated Function: adjective Date: 1588
1: having an education ; especially : having an education beyond the average 2 a: giving evidence of training or practice : skilled b: befitting one that is educated c: based on some knowledge of fact
— ed·u·cat·ed·ness noun

I think the definition of education from Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary encompasses more types of learning and is a little more religious. The Miriam-Webster online dictionary is very general and scientific and it should have included the definitions of educating and educated in with the definition of education. I agree with all that Random Thoughts of a Librarian-in-Training has to say. That leaves me to ask you. What kind of definition do you like, the kind that tells people how to educate or the one that is as basic as it can get?

1 comment:

  1. The proper definition of education, IMHO, is the process of becoming an educated person.

    Being an educated person means you have access to optimal states of mind regardless of the situation you are in.

    You are able to perceive accurately, think clearly and act effectively to achieve self-selected goals and aspirations.

    Education is a process of cognitive cartography, mapping your experiences and finding a variety of reliable routes to optimal states when you find yourself in non-optimal states.

    You are welcome to read more of my thoughts on a proper definition of education on my web site.


    Don Berg

    Free E-book: The Attitude Problem in Education