Report on “educated” #3 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

Donna Brown

Grade 5 Coordinator, Grange Hill Primary School, Westmoreland, Jamaica

When I was a child, people around me usually speak about others who are “educated” as people who have been to higher institutions of learning and have achieved for themselves some form of certificate or credential that would suggest that they are now a professional in a certain field and has a title.  Those who did not embark on this journey were not regarded as educated.  Needless to say in those days, based on this perspective, majority of the persons in my community were considered to be uneducated.  Even if a person has a certain skill that enables him or her to earn a living, he or she was not considered educated if he or she did not undergo some form of formal training.

Later on based on what was happening in my high school years I learned to associate being educated with earning a lot of money.  This happened because somehow it was being portrayed that when you have been exposed to formal training then automatically your financial earnings or status improved.  So we grow up with this notion in mind that one is educated when he or she gets to study at the highest level which is usually university or college and is now earning a major salary as a result.  At that time the areas were medicine, lawyer, teacher or some other areas earning a lot of money because of formal training.  Hence most persons who were privileged select subject areas or electives that would help them to enter into one of these mentioned fields to earn money.

While I was in college I learned that an educated person is one who had undergone a process which involves learning that will enable that person acquire knowledge that will instigate some form of change which is usually positive.  This type of change usually manifests itself in some form of behaviour which should indicate that the person is learning- for some it is a performance in test scores, for others it is greater success on the job.

Presently it seems that all the above have evolved into a more sophisticated way of looking at being educated.  It means being exposed to a form of training in an institution that will enable you to change for the better that you can create a positive impact not only for self but for others, the society and the world at large.  And what do they use as the indicators?  The results on test- tests that typically seek to ascertain the levels of people pertaining to knowledge and skills across a number of disciplines.  No doubt if a person does not possess these knowledge and skills which will facilitate higher learning or at least have the potential to enable one to become employable then that person is not seen as educated.

An educated nation is viewed as one wherein most of its population have been exposed to tertiary level education.  This is in lieu of the assumption that having this kind of exposure has equipped individuals with the potential to earn money and contribute to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of a country.  Consequently those who want to become ‘educated’ usually pursue a higher level of learning with this purpose in mind.

Most persons if not all believe that much of the problems plaguing this country and the world will be solved if wealth is increased and distributed ‘fairly’.  With this view in mind they seek to use education as a vehicle with which to do so.  This view has dominated the minds of generations past and will be the same for generations to come.  Presently we are trying to equip our children with knowledge and skills that will enable them to become money earners.  Being a ‘money-earner’ is very important to individuals and to the country.   This view has been perpetuated so much that what we have currently is that people in general are trying to earn money anyway they can-even by unscrupulous means.  The younger ones are now involved in scamming of various types and are justifying it.  There are reports from schools that students will excuse themselves from classes just to go to bathrooms to conduct business on cell phones and via the internet.  What type of business? Scamming.   This is a ‘job’ they do not necessarily need formal skills and knowledge to learn.  Even if they are already equipped with these skills they are merely being used to make money for themselves and their families. However is scamming people out of their hard earned money making their communities, the country and the world a better place? Contrary to people justifying it as being so- it is not.

Yes there have been many perspectives on the educated person and he or she must be able to do.  No doubt this view will evolve or will be redefined as life goes on and the world changes.  One perspective that differs is the one proposed by J. Casey Hurley.  According to Hurley (2009) an educated person is one who simply demonstrates the virtues of understanding, imagination, strong character, courage, humility and generosity.

Initially this view may seem inconceivable.  However as you learn more about it you will start to wonder about its merit.  Maybe you will have questions.  For example what of knowledge and skills? Do we throw them away? How can these virtues solve our economic problems?  Based on my understanding of this notion is that we change our core beliefs to the virtues and put the purpose of education be placed before governance which is unlike previous and current programmes being implemented to tackle the plethora  of problems we face.  This idea does not really demand a lot of resources or money; it simply requires a change of perspective and attitude.  This may be difficult, but would not the expected outcome be worth it? We are currently living in a global community.  We are living in an age of technology where changes are happening at a rapid pace- more than any nation can keep up with. It is postulated that some jobs or skills that people or students are currently trying to acquire will become obsolete by the time they will graduate. People who are already employed in certain capacities have to be doing on-the-job training to remain relevant and efficient.

We will still need knowledge and skills.  However what I think the virtues will do is to enhance success as they promote productivity, initiative and collaboration while discouraging self- centeredness, selfishness and complacency.  These are principles that make the differences between successes and failures.  With a modelling and teaching of the virtues students will see that they are not only responsible for self but for others.  Hence even if when they are to learn skills and knowledge they will be motivated to do so if they know that family, community and country are depending on them to be so- bearing in mind the world is depending on them to make it a better place for all. After all the beautiful thing about an education is that it not only improves your life, it enables you to improve the life of others, your community and the world!

I have seen this happened already.  I have seen people who have not set foot in a classroom and probable is not fully literate nor numerate but have started and run successful businesses, managed to raise ten children and enabled them to become productive citizens. I have also seen them become beacons in their own communities.  These people often do not drive luxurious vehicles, take expensive vacations nor live in mansions but they have made their little corner of the world better.  What do they have in common?  They are usually kind as they share what they have-their food, their home, their knowledge and their time.  They have a strong sense of character- they are honest, hardworking, fair and treat each other the way they would like to be treated.  They are courageous- they stand up for the rights of others and against those who will try to use power to control others for selfish reasons. They are understanding even when you might have done something wrong and so they listen and try to be tolerant regardless of difference of opinions. They are humble and usually very creative.

Still these people by society’s standard will not be considered as educated; they do not have any credentials from any noble institution.  Yet there are those who have been through the system, gained high marks and have matriculated for higher institution, have garnered much accolades, are earning a lot of money and have transformed their lives for the ‘ better’ as they now have all the material things money can buy but that is it-the impact created is that limited.  This person is viewed as educated and is held in high esteem for the younger generation to follow.  In my opinion anyone who sees it as their responsibility to utilize the knowledge and skills gained (regardless of the area) to transform the world into a better place for all without seeking anything in return is an educated person.  No level of skill and knowledge in itself is going to make the world a better place.  However a new way and purpose of looking at and using these knowledge and skills will.  Therefore an  educated person is one who has undergone a process of learning whether formal or informal with virtues at the centre that have provided the capability to function effectively in not only familiar but novel situations with the purpose of making life and the world a better place for all. An educated person is knowledgeable that whatever he or she will acquire in this life is not only for self-gratification but for the benefit of all.  This responsibility to others will no doubt affect our attitude towards achievement, to work and others.  This view of educated will serve to eradicate selfishness and instigate positive selfless decision making.  What do you think?




There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.

Leave a Comment