Education is a misunderstood term. It is often confused with related concepts such as knowledge and school. Education sometimes happens at school (and sometimes doesn’t), and knowledge can be a sign of an education, but neither are education itself. Simply put, education is the willingness and ability to learn for the sake of learning. The truly educated person learns constantly without supervision or external reward. To truly define what education is, we must first look at what it is not.
People generally think of school when education is brought up. School can be more than learning skills, memorizing facts, and putting them down on paper hoping to be rewarded with a good grade. The intended purpose of school is to teach students to think critically, which is something it often accomplishes. However, school is not education itself; it is a medium for students to reach their goal of being educated. School traditionally attempts to do this by setting up a course of external rewards for students to attain, each supposedly bringing the student closer to being truly educated. College is seen as the final goal for high school students.
College represents the ultimate form of education, and graduating from college is when people are certified as educated. It is not that simple. After college, an infinite amount of learning can be accomplished. School is like a trail to follow in a deep forest, giving students a taste of knowledge. However, to truly learn, people have to do it themselves. Educated people should develop a habit of constant learning without structure and reward.
An educated person in some people’s eyes is someone who knows a lot, someone who has retained a large amount of information, someone who can state facts without having to look them up. Broad knowledge can be valuable, but this is not an educated person. This is a knowledgeable person. To be educated is not about how much someone knows. It is about how someone can use what that person knows to enhance their learning experience. Knowing all the facts in the world won’t make a person educated unless that person can use those ideas for the sake of gaining more knowledge. On the other hand if someone is full of ideas but lacks the knowledge to put them to use, their creativity is void. It takes both creativity and knowledge to make a truly educated person.
Being an educated person is to view the world as your playground. It is to think with an open mind and to never be limited to what one has been taught as truth. It is to blur the line between work and play and to learn not just because one is told to. An educated person is someone who learns for fun and recognizes that there is no end to learning, no final certification. This skill could have been gained through any number of means, but when someone has it, it is apparent. Any person can become educated; it simply takes the will to learn for the sake of learning and living.