On education – Part 2

Thank you all for your responses to the questions I posed in the context of tertiary education in the little essay on education. I learnt a great deal from your responses. Here I’d like to share with you some of the observations I made.

There were three questions put forward:

“What is education for?”
“What constitutes an educated person?”
“When is education enough?”


Typically a single, albeit detailed answer was given, which is interesting. One of the inherent traps of such approach is that only one of the questions dominates the mind of the responder. Usually it is the first one. The others either disappear into obscurity or become subservient to the first one.
These three questions however form a coherent unit in my mind. I wish to show in a few moments how these ideas spiral into each other. They therefore need to be considered together, yet answered individually; each question building on the answer of the previous one(s). While the thought process develops, the order of the questions might need be modified.

I think it justifiable to say that by accepting the questions and their order as a given frame of reference, the reader adopts the thinking of the author. I hoped the readers would create their own frame of reference. I expected a lot of other questions being raised, to be honest. In expressing further questions, one must add, even more learning can take place.

Further questions

So here are some other questions that come to mind as a fitting starting point, when looking for answering the three questions. “Is education required?” – “By whom? – “For what?” – “What is the function of education?” – “What is the problem education is the solution for?” – “What is the problem education is used as a solution for?” – “Are these two the same?” –

Considering the first question asked originally, we need to contextualise it. Can education be treated in isolation, separated from the person who is subject to it? I’d suggest, not. Therefore it might be worthwhile to consider the second question before we can attempt to answer the first one. Nevertheless, the above questions may be a valuable to help making such decision.

While contemplating the second question, other questions can be raised. – “What does it mean to be educated?” – “Was the meaning the same throughout history?” – “What other meanings can we take?” – “Can we ever have a clear definition?” – “Who decides?” – “How do you decide?” – “Do we want to know what educated means?” – “What does it mean to say that someone is over educated?” – “How can one know?” – “Is education dangerous to ourselves?” – “Can one fail education?” – “Whose fault is it? The teacher’s or the learner’s?” –

These questions lead naturally to ponder the relationship between reason, learning and education. Consequently, the limits of education need to be discerned. This requires further deliberation about the nature and purpose of education. Here are some more questions that help contemplating these aspects of education.

“What is the relationship between education and reason?” – “How does education increase a person’s capacity to grasp the truth?” – “What conceptions of intelligence, logic and learning does education insist upon?” – “What conceptions of intelligence and learning does it ignore?” – “How do humans educate their youngs?” – “Does it cover all cases?” – “What are its limits?” – “What increases or deduces such limit?” – “What is the kind of education that best facilitates thinking?” – “Does education have to?” – “What is the difference between a student and a learner?” –

None of these questions should be surprising to anyone familiar with education. They are reasonably simple and straight forward. I do not even think about the form and content of education here. Neither do I go into the deep and ask what sort of culture education produce. Considering these would require a lot bigger discourse than a short article. I simply raise these questions to foment further thinking. My aim here is to add impetus to inquiry, – not merely providing a conclusion.

Different questions generate different solutions. I find it necessary, for the purpose of clarifying the present situation and indicating what dangers may lie ahead to consider such questions. As stated elsewhere, questions are the principal intellectual instruments available to human beings. Aptly formed questions can lead to finding new facts, establishing new perspectives and new ideas.

Obviously I do not think that a correct answer can be unequivocally given to these questions. Perhaps not even a satisfactory answer. You may have the impression that I overstate the case to the point of irrelevance. I am banking on readers’ agreeing that these questions – and dozens more like them – are neither silly nor irrelevant. Neither do I use them as a publicity gambit. It is not an exaggeration to say though that leaving these questions unconsidered is not beneficial to anybody.

The three questions answered

My answers to those original three questions are here. I do not wish to pretend I created them. I adapted them; modified them; adjusted them to my liking. I do not even wish to think they are the right answers. Nevertheless, they help me to have a clearer understanding about education.

“What constitutes an educated person?”

Being educated means

  • to become aware of the knowledge areas mankind has discovered;
  • to become aware of the origins and growth of these knowledge areas and knowledge systems;
  • to be familiar with the intellectual and creative processes by which such knowledge has been produced and
  • to learn how to participate –  even as a listener – in producing further knowledge.

“What is education for?”

Education is to replace an empty mind with an open one, so it can be closed – to information glut. Or to put it simply, even risking over simplification, education is for freedom of thinking.
“When is education enough?”

Education is enough when a person has learnt to formulate questions that can lead to further knowledge creation.

Your thoughts…

Why not?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *