In this essay I will be discussing what it means to be an educated person and the scholarly views that support or may contrast the views that I discuss. Before discussing what it means to be an educated person, it is important to understand what is meant by the term education as we cannot have an educated person without education itself. Although this proves to be a difficult task as the term education holds a vast variety of definitions. According to Oxford Dictionary (Oxford Dictionary, 2018), education is the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university. However, R. S. Peters offers what seems to be a more fitting definition by stating that “Education is of the whole man” (R.S.
Peters, 1970, page 6) therefore explaining that education is not specific knowledge but knowing a wide range of truths. Although, it is a common view that when one thinks of an education we relate this to an institute such as a school or university, so one cannot receive an education without the help of another. This is a key point that I’ll be raising and expanding on later in the essay. The question, ‘what is an educated person?’, would be difficult to respond to without giving it some thought.
When we think of being an educated person, we immediately think of someone who is very knowledgeable or in simpler terms, someone who knows a lot. This relates very closely to the idea Siegel put across when discussing knowledge and truth, he claims that people who are educated come to know things and gain appreciation for what they know in order to apply it accordingly (Siegel, 2010). This view is one that I think best answers the question, what is an educated person?. In today’s society, it has become increasingly important to be an educated person to get a desired job or to secure your future and the way most people begin their journey to become educated is by going to school or college or university. As I mentioned previously, these institutions aim to provide students with valuable information on a wide range of academic subjects in which one can become knowledgeable in different areas and then learn to apply this knowledge later in life. It is not enough to just know something, we must know how to use it (Mackenzie, 1998). For example, if person X studied science, maths, english and religious studies at school they would have acquired a wider range of knowledge than person Y who only studied health and social care.
Person X would be able to apply their knowledge to many different situations or jobs unlike person Y who only acquired specific knowledge therefore, person X is an educated person and person Y is an educated person in health and social care.This leads me onto my next point, I referred to an educated person as someone who is knowledgeable on a wide range of academic topics which they can use later in life however, this view can prove to be very problematic as there are many contrasting views that disagree with defining an educated person only in association with academic knowledge. Scholars such as Winch, hold vocational skills at a higher value. Winch explains that an educated person is one that can serve and improve society and the way we can do this is to be knowledgeable in a specific topic and become experts in this topic in order for this to be valuable later in life (Winch, 2004). It is not enough for someone to know facts, for one to be educated they must have the knowledge and skill to fulfil employment and prosper economically as there seems to be no use of being an educated person if it won’t help to improve you as a person and improving your life chances. However, I disagree with the idea that knowledge in a specific area qualifies as being an educated person given that you could not use your knowledge elsewhere. If we have an academic knowledge, we can learn to reason, think critically, analyse and become independent which makes us educated people.
These skills can be helpful throughout life for many different reasons without being tied down to specific skills. Aside from knowledge, the term intelligence is also strongly tied to the question, what is an educated person? For many people an educated person is someone who is intelligent. The term intelligence according to Niesser is the concept of being able to understand complex ideas. So for one to qualify as being educated they must not only have knowledge of complex ideas but understand them too (Neisser, 1996). For example, person X and person Y can both learn pythagoras’ theorem but only the person that understands it can be called educated, for it is not enough to just know something. It is important to mention that it is a requirement for a person under the age of 18 to be in education and study academic subjects therefore, this should result into everyone being an educated person having acquired a wide range of knowledge but this is not the case. It would be difficult to find more than a handful of people who have carried the knowledge they acquired in college, into their adult life. How many of us can say we use pythagoras’ theorem on a daily basis? Not many.
Although, those who say that they do will be those who excelled in maths as a teenager and chose to pursue a career in the subject therefore suggesting an educated person is one who is intelligent. It is not important to be intelligent in many ways as it is simply impossible to know everything, therefore it is valuable to be intelligent in one subject as opposed to try and be intelligent in everything as such a task would take more than a lifetime.Although this idea isn’t a strong one in the argument of what is an educated person? This is because intelligence is a very broad term, you can be intelligent in academics, music, sport, languages etc. The list is never ending therefore it is hard to clarify which type of intelligence qualifies one to be an educated person. If we refer back to person X and person Y, if they both attend university and person X gets a 1st but person Y gets a 3rd does that mean that person X is educated but person Y isn’t? I think it is important for one to acquire knowledge but to which level they do so is not important as we have to give thought to the individual differences within society therefore both person X and Y are educated people as long as they both apply their knowledge appropriately. To further expand on this point, for one to be an educated person they must have incurred some change as we cannot be born an educated person, we must become one (Barrow, 2006). However, we can be born with intelligence. Although, Many people will argue that this is not the case and that intelligence is a result of the world around us.
However, we can’t ignore that at a young age we see clear differences in one child’s capabilities compared to another, whether this is in social awareness or IQ test scores. It seems fair to say that all children are born with some level intelligence, which varies between children but that doesn’t mean to say intelligence is entirely dependent on nurture and not nature. This further proves my point that intelligence is not enough to be an educated person but gaining knowledge and understanding this knowledge is how one becomes an educated person.To conclude this essay, it seems very clear that the term education is very difficult to define which poses many problems when answering the question, what is an educated person? Throughout the essay, it seems very evident that an educated person is one who is very knowledgeable in many subjects and aspects in life and not just knowledgeable in a specific area. An educated person is one that is highly valued in society especially when discussing matters of employment therefore an educated person must possess wide set of skills which one can use in any given situation (R. S Peters, 1970). These skills are best learnt through academic subjects as they can be transferred later in life.
It essential to mention that anyone can gain knowledge on an subject but those who are truly educated people are those who understand the knowledge that they gain as this will support them being able to use this knowledge throughout their life. There are other ideas of what an educated person is, for example, someone who is intelligent may qualify as being an educated person. This may very well be true, one can be intelligent and an educated person as long as their intelligence includes excelling in many different areas and understanding the material in those areas.
Although, delving into the different answers to the question I am answering in this essay, can become very problematic very quickly given that there is an infinite number of interpretations on such a topic. Therefore, to answer the question in simple terms, an educated person is one who has acquired a wide range of knowledge that they have understood and hold the ability to apply such knowledge throughout their life.