significance of education

Reply Tue 28 Oct, 2008 09:24 pm
I am dealing with someone who believes education is simply a matter of filling students' heads with information. I tried to convince him otherwise. After engaging in a discussion, he still remain skeptical. I am still trying to convince him otherwise. Does anyone have any suggestions on what the essential feature of education is and why it is significant?
Green Witch
Reply Tue 28 Oct, 2008 09:40 pm
Knowledge is power. The more you know the more valuable you are. If you don't like your job you can leave and sell your talents elsewhere. The best security is to have knowledge and skills that others are willing to pay you for. Education is the best chance a person has to be successful in life. Ignorant people often end up trapped in jobs that are boring and have few rewards. Education gives you choices that uneducated people do not have.
Reply Tue 28 Oct, 2008 10:15 pm
@Green Witch,
Thanks for your reply. Yes I do understand that but is there anything in particular that I can talk about or further explain?
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Always Eleven to him
Reply Tue 28 Oct, 2008 11:18 pm
Education is about teaching the young how to think. Not what to think, mind you, but how. A person who can think critically always asks questions. And through asking questions, continues to learn.

Learning how to think critically also means that you learn how to teach yourself. And learning how to learn helps you to develop the skills that Green Witch wrote about.

Once you know how to teach yourself, you can't help but acquire the knowledge that brings with it power. As Green Witch implied, that power allows you to control your own destiny.
Reply Tue 28 Oct, 2008 11:30 pm
what the others said...or to put it another way,

..education is simply a matter of filling students' heads with tools
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Reply Wed 29 Oct, 2008 05:13 am
@Always Eleven to him,
I certainly agree with this.
Education really starts in the first grade, learning to read and write that is the very first basic ecucation. Then your education should be how to ask questions, how to use these information and how to think.
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Reply Wed 29 Oct, 2008 12:34 pm
Though compilation of a large mass of "facts" doesn't necessarily indicate a "good education", your friend is probably more right than not. Literacy and the fundamentals of mathematics are skills that are the essentials of a sound education. We start by learning the alphabet, then spelling, and finally grammar. Up until the recent times, students were required to adhere strictly to standards, and non-standard usages were discouraged. Students weren't allowed to continue in the classroom using non-standard forms.

Standing at a blackboard, under the withering stare of an English teach who may have taught one's grandparents, while trying to diagram a complex sentence was real torture for almost every student. Learning "proper" English seemed so pointless when a few hours later we were surrounded by people using language that seemed to have little to do with what we learned in the classroom. We had been taught that language is dynamic, and constantly evolving as people adapt and adopt it to their needs and purposes, so why bother to learn "dead" forms?

Well for one thing, those rote lessons put everyone on an equal footing when it came to education. It made understanding learned books written in earlier times easier. Whether we like to admit it or not, our society is very class conscious, and anyone who departs from the standard language associated with a good education is pretty much doomed to social/economic stasis.

Once a person is literate, that is they can speak, read and write using a reasonably sophisticated vocabulary, doors begin to open and opportunities multiply. Books talk to us across generations, geography, and cultures. Non-fiction is a repository of what other people have learned, or think that they've learned. The materials we find in books reflect the author, his time and the expectations of his culture. Well-educated authors express themselves with greater clarity, and their thoughts, being well structured, are easier to comprehend.

Since late in the 16th century, literacy rates soared and a flood of books, many of them with new and innovative thought became available. Some of the stuff published has proved over the centuries to be wrong, utter nonsense, or so obscure and impenetrable as to be meaningless. Other books contain insights and thoughts that have proven invaluable. Some of the books and thoughts over these centuries have played an essential role in what we are today, what we think and value. Our society and political structures have been changed by some of those thoughts and books. For the student standing on the threshold of learning, all of those millions of books are pretty much equal; they are all Terra Incognito. So how does a student winnow the wheat from the chaff? Reading it all is both impossible, and futile. The student needs a guide, and that guide is his teacher, a person who has already acquired a higher level of education and learning than the student. Primary, secondary and high school teachers have only a limited education, but their task is to teach the fundamentals, and prepare the student for life as a productive member of our society, or to climb up on the shoulders of giants and perhaps make new discoveries and have deeper insights into the nature of things. In college, the student will be guided to those previous works that generations of scholars and thinkers have identified as being most insightful and useful in understanding the world. Some of those ideas will eventually be discarded, while others previously thought marginal may become the "break through" idea to greater knowledge and understanding. Before a student is likely to forge new and important concepts, he/she must first know what the existing intellectual terrain looks like, and how it got to be the way it is. What do the leading thinkers think? What are their strengths and weaknesses? How does an idea explain some phenomena, and where is the idea inadequate to explain things? As we learn, comparing and contrasting, evaluating and questioning becomes habitual, and we are hopefully harder to fool.

As usual, I've gone on here too long. However, at least a word should be said about mathematics and the scientific method. Mathematics is the purist of all languages. It means exactly what it says, no more and no less. The means of arriving at a conclusion from a set of relationships is either sound, or it isn't. Mathematics, properly applied, extends our understanding far beyond what we can see, or touch. The Pythagoreans were convinced that the whole of reality is number, and numerical relationships are harmony. Mathematics and physics let us ciphers reach out to the ends of time and space, far beyond where we can ever go in person. Science is observation, experiment, conformation, and endless testing of a hypothesis. No theory is ever completely secure because someone may eventually get a result that might shake the whole into atoms. Newton, of our scale, is adequate and at one time was thought to provide all of the fundamentals but footnotes. Einstein was driven to "fill-in" the blanks that Newton either got wrong, or left untested, and a whole new way of approaching time and space on a cosmic level opened the doors to the science and technology of today. Einstein was never comfortable with Quantum Theory (God doesn't play at dice), yet Quantum Physics has proven to be just as important to the events on the Planck scale as Einstein's Special and General Theories have been to the Cosmic scale. Mathematics, especially geometry in all of its wonderful and beautiful forms, is first learned by rote and even after the student has advanced beyond 99% of the mathematics understood by human beings, the same rigorous rules apply.

We just learn skills and bits of data, then some of us take a leap from that and use the tools to discover new countries of the mind.
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