Report on “educated” #1 of 4

The following is an unedited report from a Western Carolina University MAED student in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

What It Means To Be Educated

Marcia Mungo

Acting Vice Principal, Cambridge High School

     In a world which thrives on competition in every aspect of our daily routine, there will always be comparisons and standards for almost everything possible. The reality is that especially in areas where some type of formal training takes place, persons will always develop yardsticks to measure the effectiveness of the various programmes. Similarly in education, competence will always be measured in terms of excellence versus average and inefficiency. It is within this context that the terms educated and schooled must be analyzed as many people will admit that there is a difference between being educated and being schooled. The difficulty which they may have is in distinguishing between the two, that is ,who is educated and who is schooled. There are however some common threads which surface once the debate intensifies, one of which is that being schooled is not as comprehensive as being educated. Another point is that the educated person is seen as being superior or socially more desirable than a schooled person. The educated person is perceived as being more articulate, congenial, sensitive and in short more sociable than the schooled person. The educated person is often admired and emulated for his poise, confidence and charisma which set him apart from the arrogant, proud and conceited individuals who are merely schooled.

The question concerning the profile of an educated person compels us to examine the process of schooling. According to the website:

Education is the process of learning which is geared towards the acquisition of skills, knowledge and attitude for the benefit of the individual and nation as a whole. Education must bring about rapid socio-economic development and an educated person must be of benefit to his society and nation as a whole. Schooling on the other hand is a means to education .If a person after going to school, uses his acquired skills and knowledge to benefit the society or nation that person is said to be educated. But if a person is of no benefit after going to school then that person is said to have undergo schooling.

The implication of this position is that an educated person contributes to the development of his society and is an asset because of his involvement in social development. The views of an educated person usually down plays the acquisition of knowledge and skills which do not improve the persons character.
The educated person is often perceived to be an individual who is intellectually competent. The society prides itself when it is able to produce individuals whose extensive knowledge and skill enable those individuals to communicate and address the daily challenges of life in a manner which improves not only the quality of our lives but also our chances of survival. The educated person is often recognized by personality features which make that person easily distinguished in any setting. By this, I mean he or she stands out because of the wealth of knowledge which he or she possesses as well as the ease with which he or she effectively communicates these ideas to individuals from varying levels of academic competence. Most times such an individual is genuinely concerned about the advancement of mankind and seeks to use his or her knowledge and skills to enhance social development. In return he or she desires simply to be a part of the unit which pursues social reformation .

Education according to Paulo Freire, as cited by Hilty (2011), should facilitate integration and bring about conformity which enable people to “deal critically and creatively with the realities and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world”(p.xiv). The implication here is that, an educated person is an agent of change, whose mission it is, to confront and address the ills of society. This further suggests that the profile of an educated person is a person whose social disposition is positive and this is evident in that persons’ daily social interactions. This frame of reference is consistent with the philosophy of Dewey’s (1916) as cited by Evans (2001) who claims that ” that education should manifest itself in a change in behaviour” (p.5) .What this implies is that academic competence cannot be the single defining yardstick for identifying an educated individual and this is the central premise of Dr.Hurley’s, ” Six Virtues Of The Educated Person”. He makes a connection between the acquisition of vitues as part of the education process which is unique and which claims that in the complex process of educating the individual, emphasis must be placed on developing virtues of understanding, imagination ,strong character, courage, humility and generosity .The benefit of this type of education is quite obvious as schooling only caters for the development of the things which can be measured through formal assessment ;which is the body of knowledge and skills presented in the curriculum.

The criteria for identifying an educated person may differ from one individual to another, however, it is a common belief that process of education involves schooling but does not end there. According to Walters and Castle (1967) as cited by Hyman-Anglin (1996) ,”Being educated can mean getting new knowledge and experience, or receiving intellectual and moral training through schooling”(p.1). The distinguishing factors it seems, therefore, must be in the shaping of the character of the educated person. After all there are many persons who have successfully completed schooling whose disposition do not match the profile of an educated individual. What factors account for this deficiency? In my experience the schooled persons are often unable to see things from any other position than their own because they often lack humility. The process of schooling will equipped them with the tools to survive in a competitive society as schools presently model understanding, strong character and generosity. Consequently, there are many persons who possess the required knowledge base and the appropriate skills for the professional and vocational opportunities available. Despite this there are numerous social concerns as too many of our people are properly schooled but are they really educated. Hyman-Anglin (1996) explains:

The term education is better determined by what it can and should do for someone. In its broadest sense it is seen as a socializing force preparing the young to take their place in society; it initiates the members of society into specific roles; it mediates the social norms; it transmits culture and the accumulated knowledge of society from one generation to the next .In short education is the means by which society prepares its members with the essential conditions of it very existence, for without the social continuity of education the society will fail to exist (p.12).

Essentially, this definition alludes to the presence of an element of social conditioning which produces a better human being. This is made possible through the developing of values which govern behaviour and social interactions. Usually, the schooled person flaunts his or her exceptional academic accomplishments. That person may have pursued extensive academic programmes and attained substantial recognition for mastery of complex ideas and philosophies. Despite this, however, there is a noticeable absence of human compassion .According to Hurley,(2009) “Educated (virtuous) people make life beautiful, and uneducated ones make it ugly (p.xi). He further postulates that, educated persons,” continually develop the virtues of understanding, imagination, strong character, courage, humility, and generosity. This means our uneducated nature is characterized by the vices of ignorance, intellectual incompetence, weakness, pride, and selfishness, which describe how humans come into the world. Becoming educated involves the struggle to overcome these vices by developing virtues “(p.26). The debate concerning the character of an educated person must take into account the elements which set one individual above another, what actually give someone the edge over a peer who possesses identical qualification and skills. This points to personality difference which are nurtured and shaped by our formal or informal social interactions at school. The only institution which can foster the development of these virtues on a broad scale is the school. Social norms and values can be modeled and taught systematically to a wide audience. It therefore, becomes very important for the school to provide this type of comprehensive training. It is not enough to train persons to be competent in academics or skills alone.

A truly educated person must be cognizant of his obligation to stimulate social awareness. It is not enough for the leaders to possess understanding and imagination. In addition, he should continually seek to demonstrate courage and strong character in every social interaction possible. In the field of education for instance, humility and generosity should guide how teaching-learning strategies are determined and implemented. In the wider society, educated leaders would conduct his affair in a way which indicates that each day he is trying to make a concerted effort improve his effectiveness in every thing he does. It is important to remember that education is life long so the educated person is not perfect or some sort of saint. The benefit of being educated is that one is better able to monitor and adjust ones behaviour objectively because of his acquired virtues. To put in simple terms the educated person makes a positive impact on his environment.


Hurley J. Casey (2009) The Six Virtues of the Educated Person, Rowman & Littlefield Publishing, INC.

Hyman-Anglin Rhona (1996) Education & Society – An Introduction 2nd Edition.




1 comment so far ↓

#1 AJ on 10.01.12 at 12:33 am

This essay has been an eye-opener. Wilmot Perkins, former talk show host, had repeatedly referred to our highest seat of learning, UWI, as an ‘intellectual ghetto’ for the same reason that many have not yet realised that being educated does not suggest but demand behavioural change. I have never heard of the idea of what it means to be educated being a part of the curriculum even up to the secondary school level as a matter of course. Could this be something that we need to seriously think about and have the guts to implement?

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