What Does It Mean to Be Well-Educated?

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By: John Kay, West Staff Writer

No one will say the dreaded words. Those uncomfortable words make us cringe at the very thought of the question: is education done right? This difficult question is not just for the institutions that “educate us,” but it goes out to its very participates.

For years, people of all ages and backgrounds have stumbled at answering the question, what does it mean to be well-educated?

Education is defined by Oxford as, “The process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university.” The majority of people would agree with this definition; nevertheless, the growing trend that can be seen nationally is that students think education is a one-sided experience.

Sara Rimer, from the Hechinger Report, said this on the state of critical thinking, “An unprecedented study that followed several thousand undergraduates through four years of college found that large numbers didn’t learn the critical thinking, complex reasoning and written communication skills that are widely assumed to be at the core of a college education.”

Unfortunately, this study shows how education has turned one-sided in this country and everyone is to blame for it. It is clear that most colleges and universities have their biases, for every human being and institution does. However, it is important to remember that critical thinking is at the foundation of education, and if that is compromised, then the entire building will collapse at some point.

The good news is that all is not lost, it never is. Students as a whole can be more engaging, transparent, thoughtful and eager to exercise critical thinking when filtering vast amounts of information. Professors cannot force student interaction, nor can students fake intrigue. Education needs to be understood as a two-way highway because students are the protagonist in their story.

Education, in general, should focus on sharpening students’ ability to comprehend ideas, instead of portraying an overarching view or opinion on a matter. History has repeatedly shown that ideas that are assumed right without weighing additional viewpoints, are at the very best, questionable.

Education could use Aristotle’s reasoning on what it means to be educated, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”

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