Friday, January 15, 2010

On Education

To many, the term "schooling" is a dirty word. They prefer to say "education". To others even the word "education" has negative connotations, and they only say "learning" or "building knowledge". The problem, of course, is not really with a certain word, or even with the actual meaning of the word. The problem lies in an individual's personal view and opinion, what a particular word represents to that individual. Two different people may say the exact same word but mean two very different things. On the other hand, two people may use different words but attach the same meaning to both.

I'd like to say some things on the subject of education. The word "educate" comes from the Latin "educere", which means
ex- "out" and ducere "to lead". It was not until the late 16th century that "educate" began to mean the act of providing schooling (first used for that particular meaning by Shakespeare, by the way).

So, educate - to lead out. Isn't that a much nicer definition than just "providing formal instruction"?

I picture in my mind a true educator taking a child's soul by the hand and slowly but surely leading that soul up and out of its shell, out of ignorance into knowledge, out of uncertainty into confidence, out of childhood into maturity.

The old-fashioned term of "bringing up" a child follows these same lines. Bringing up, leading out, both seem to indicate that a child already is his own individual self, already given to certain inclinations, talents, abilities, and interests. Our job as parent-educators is not to cram all the facts and information we possibly can into their young minds. Our job is to take lovingly by the hand and guide them along
their life's path, to offer a hand up on the steep climbs, a boost over the high walls of obstacles, a guiding knowledge at crossroads, and an encouraging word through the storms. It is our job to bring them up from infancy to adulthood, to lead them out from the security of home into the great wide world beyond.

The truly educated person is continuously learning, all his life. Part of our job as parents is to nurture a curiosity, a creativity, a love of knowledge and a craving for wisdom in our children so that when they are grown and we are no longer there to guide them, they can easily take up the job of "educating" themselves, leading their own minds further and further up and out of ignorance and into greater knowledge and wisdom.

I suppose that is the ultimate aim of great education: that children learn to teach themselves, for themselves.

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