What does it mean and what should it mean to be educated?

Subject: 🎓 Education
Type: Expository Essay
Pages: 5
Word count: 1388
Topics: High School, Self Reflection, 🌱 Personal Growth
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Education is one of the most sought resources as a source of knowledge and life empowerment in the world. However, different people have different interpretations of what education is and what it should mean.  Education takes place in both formal and informal settings, and it involves the transfer of knowledge and skills through teaching and experience. Education is interpreted as an essential tool in alleviating poverty, improving standards of living and health status. Moreover, education is perceived as a vital innovation tool that leads to new ideas, creativity, and opportunities. However, according to Spayde, the best education is one that strikes a balance between academic education and life experiences (66). While much emphasis is put on academic and class education, the ability to put into practice what has been learned in class is an essential attribute of education. This essay will argue that education should depict the empowerment value and the ability to utilize education to construct meanings from experiences.

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Education is regarded as the key to success in life through empowerment and opening of new opportunities. Racial segregation, socioeconomic status, and culture put some people in the society at a disadvantaged position to access resources and opportunities in life. While talking about education, people focus too much on academic education. The difference between the educated and poorly educated is perceived as the cause of the disparity in access to power, entitlement, and ideas that improve life (Spayde 66). However, ancient Greek education was based on firsthand experience, and it was intended to enliven people’s minds by making them aware of the world around them. The ancient Greeks were successful despite drawing their knowledge and skills from life experiences. The definition of education varies from one scholar to another. Academic education should be integrated with life experiences to enhance its value in transforming and improving a person’s life.

Education is viewed as a tool for empowerment and freedom from the disadvantages that afflict people in the society. For instance, in his book “The Library Card” Wright highlights the challenges he went through for being an African American. Wright had little opportunity to access education during an era when racial segregation was legalized. Through the efforts of his mother, he attained basic education, and that helped him get a job. While working, he had the desire to read books to understand his situation and the life of the whites. However, his race denied him access to the library.

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Wright was able to access the library through a library card owned by his coworker (Miller 256). Access to the books acted as a breakthrough in Wright’s life. Reading books helped him become stronger and long for increased liberation and freedom from racial segregation and low socioeconomic status. Wright perceived education as an empowerment and self-enlightenment tool that emancipated him from racial and socioeconomic limitations (Miller 259).  Wright used the Knowledge and skills he gained from reading books to compete and challenge his white counterparts who were privileged in the society. Despite education being the key to Wright’s success, he used his education to construct meanings from life experiences making him successful in the face of racial segregation and poverty.

Education is not about qualifications but the practical ability to do something by integrating knowledge and skills with life experience. Wallace argues that the point of education is not to learn how to think but to impart a person with a variety of things to think about in life. According to Wallace, the value of education is not to create limitations on what a person can do but to provide a person with an array of approaches he can use to face life challenges (“Wallace”).  Through education, a person should become more aware of what to focus on and interpret situations based on life experience. According to Wallace, the value of education is not just to have a job after graduating, but attaining life skills that will help you efficiently deal with the challenges and frustrations in life (“Wallace”). Wallace also asserts that education should be interpreted as freedom and the ability to adjust efficiently to situations in life by being aware, disciplined and paying attention to what is essential and real in life.

Therefore, education is not just the knowledge and the skills that one gains from school but the ability to use those skills effectively in life to attain freedom and make the right choices.  Education is the ability to see and interpret more than what is in the plain sight (“Wallace”). According to Wallace, people operate on default settings by failing to find the meaning of life from ordinary things. Understanding the ordinary gives people the awareness they need to deal with the challenges in life.

Spayde also believes education is not just about qualification but also learning from life experiences to become better in life. Spayde views life experiences as a classroom that imparts a person with skills and knowledge essential in self-learning (60). Spayde also argues like Wallace, that academic education should help a person construct meanings from life experiences. According to Spayde, it will be wrong for a person not to learn from the experiences in life (63). Life experiences should act as an educator by not following the same cycles and patterns that lead to similar mistakes now and then.

Class education is not the only way to understand the various concepts in life. The education gained through life experiences is as important as the one gained in class and both necessities. For instance, Wright gained his knowledge and skills gradually and used the experience he had in life liberate himself from racial discrimination and low socioeconomic status (Miller 4). According to Spayde, classroom education is essential, but it is a precursor to engagement with ideas and life realities (66). The life experiences that a person goes through put to the test the knowledge and skills that a person has learned in class.

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The best education is one that enables a person to adjust effectively to different life situations. Spayde argues that people should view education as a source of self-enlightenment instead of a source of power. Spayde asserts that learning humanities might not make you materially rich, but it will make you rich in life by giving you the ability to understand people and to adjust to various life situations (60). The best education is the one that gives people freedom from problems and challenges they face in life. Education is based too much on its competitive aspect instead of the life value it has on a person.

The competitive aspect of education will help a person get a job, but the stress and frustration that arise from the job will affect the person’s quality of life. Wright perceived education as a source of empowerment that served an essential self-enlightenment role in his life (Miller 33). He was able to understand the life of the whites and attain freedom from being underprivileged in the society. Similarly, education should help you become self-enlightened about the condition surrounding you in society. Through self-enlightenment, you are in a better position to increase your knowledge about the world around you and adjust amicably.

Academic education helps to separate people by their economic classes and the power they hold in society. Those who have high formal education have more economic power than those who are uneducated. However, life challenges afflict those with formal education more than those who integrate formal and educational life experience with school-based education. Spayde stresses the need to continue one’s learning outside the classroom setting since the hands-on experience improves what one has learned in the classroom (64).

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The support for first-hand life experience does not mean that one should not go to a formalized education institute to gain skills and knowledge. However, it is crucial to integrate the skills learned in the classroom with the experience learned in life to construct more informed solutions to challenges in life. The classroom education should act as a self-enlightenment tool instead of a source of power. When you treat education as a self-enlightenment tool, you will be able to understand the world around you and adopt an effective mechanism to succeed and overcome challenges in life. Education should mean the ability to utilize academic education skills and knowledge to attain freedom from socioeconomic and political challenges.

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  1. Wallace, David F. “Commencement Speech.” Intelligent Life. 2005 Commencement Speech, 11 Dec. 2017, Ohio, Kenyon College.
  2. Miller, William, 1959-. Richard Wright And the Library Card. New York :Lee & Low Books, 1997. Print.
  3. Spayde, Jon. “Learning in the Key of Life.” The Presence of Others. Ed. Andrea A. Lunsford and John J. Ruszkiewicz. 4th ed. New York: Bedford St. Martin’s, 2004. 64-69.
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