Really, What is Education?

Picture of Written by: Kimberly Selchan

Written by: Kimberly Selchan

I own a tutoring agency but I got to thinking this weekend “Really, how do we define education?”.

So, I first consulted the all-knowing Chat GPT “what is education” and here was the response:

“Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits”

That’s pretty much it, right? But digging deeper into the history of Education for more insights, here are some findings:

Education is derived from the Latin Word “Educere” which means to “pull out”

This explains that education is already within a child, and the job of educators is to help bring forth that which is already within the child. This school of thought believes that there is a genius already within a child and just needs the right environment and teachers to nurture that genius to fruition. The great philosopher Plato, who founded one of the earliest formal institutions for learning “the academy” supported the idea that education was to pull out that which is already within the child. The aim of education, according to Plato, is the welfare of both the individual and the society. His guiding principle was that

“Nothing must be admitted in education which does not conduce to the promotion of virtue.”

The Mind is a Tabula Rasa:

Postulated by John Locke (but can also be traced to other great philosophers like Aristotle, Aquinas, and Descartes) this school of thought believes that people begin life in a “blank slate” and education is to pour in knowledge, skills, and experience. Here educators aim to impart knowledge and skills to the child.

“In his brilliant 1689 work An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Locke argues that, at birth, the mind is a tabula rasa (a blank slate) that we fill with ‘ideas’ as we experience the world through the five senses”

Education is Experimental and for solving Problems:

John Dewey, an educationist and philosopher, believed that learning was experimental and used for solving problems. He noted that education aimed to grow people out of their existing condition, tentative and yet maintain flexibility, and directed towards a set of activities with an end in view. His methodology for learning was mainly scientific and experimental, play/activity-based, excursions and projects which have been mainly adopted in today’s education. On learning by trial and error, he quotes

“Failure is instructive. The person who thinks, learns quite as much from his failures as from his successes.” ―John Dewey”

Everyone can Learn Philosophy:

Finally, do you want to know what Kim thinks about education? I’ll be glad to share?. I believe education is a combination of all the schools of thought mentioned above. Every child has a genius within, and education should impart desired knowledge and skills. Furthermore, education should be experimental and practical to solving real-world problems, and, as a Tutor Doctor owner, I share the Tutor Doctor approach to Education as well. But, in addition, I believe education should lead to a positive change in behavior.

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