What Is a Well-Educated Person?

well-educated-girl

The mark of a well educated person is not necessarily in knowing all the answers, but in knowing where to find them. – Douglas Everett

Even after attending college and receiving higher education, one cannot expect a person to know everything there is to know about the world. So what does it mean to be well-educated?

Most people believe that if one has graduated from college and has a degree to show for it, one is well-educated. But being a college graduate does not mean one is well-educated. Both history past and history present show us figures who have made history and changed the world but never went to college or either dropped out. People such as Paul Allen and Bill Gates, the multimillion dollar founders of Microsoft; Warren Buffett, the successful investor and philanthropist; Walt Disney, the creative and brilliant mind behind the magical world named after him; Albert Einstein, who effected a revolution in physics; Rosa Parks, the first lady of civil rights and the mother of the freedom movement who changed Black America forever; Mark Zuckerberg, the billionaire of Facebook fame. Of the 44 people who served as president of the United States, ten never went to college, including George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, yet ‘well-educated’ college graduates quote them as if these presidents were educated.

Many people who have attended college and had the knowledge to do great things, failed to do so because they never learned the wisdom or had the common sense to apply their book smarts to everyday life situations. Being a college graduate and getting good grades but failing to apply what you have learned to your life does not show that one is educated. American author and lecturer, Alfie Kohn writes about his wife in his article “What Does It Mean to Be Well-Educated?”, that many well-educated people would freeze up if they were asked what 8 times 7 is because they never learned the multiplication table. I have read the writings of many bestselling authors who have degrees in English and who write smashing stories with grammar perfect spelling but misspell the most basic of words while typing e-mails. Still, many well-educated graduates leave college without having learned anything new because instead of focusing on their studies they spend time partying or making friends.

Sitting hours at a desk in a classroom does not make one well-educated. Neither does getting high scores on a test or memorizing a bunch of facts. Graduating from college does not necessarily make one graduation worthy.

A bad education which does not educate students well leaves them without the ability to think for themselves, analyze and come up with solutions for complex problems, think critically about the way the media and others present information, and make a living to support themselves by holding down a job or creating their own job. One of the most important things that is looked for in ‘well-educated’ people is the ability to think critically. Just because the media reports a story does not mean that we should accept it the way they report it. Well-educated people think for themselves. As American educator Marva Collins says, “Trust yourself. Think for yourself. Act for yourself. Speak for yourself. Be yourself. Imitation is suicide.” Most students coming out of college without having learned anything, struggle to love themselves and love others and have a hard time accepting people who are different from them in any way.

Since we know that a bad education does not produce well-educated people, what is a good education? A good education is when students graduate or leave college without just having memorized a bunch of facts but also have the wisdom to think through those facts and apply and use them in real life. Well-educated people cannot just be measured by the scores they receive on their tests or what is in their heads but what comes out of their head through their words and actions. Well-educated people have creative and curious minds, and are able to analyze, criticize, and problem solve. They are able to think critically about the world around them and analyze facts and opinions they hear before making a decision.

Well-educated people have the capacity and bigness of mind and heart to love themselves and other people, and to be tolerant of others’ beliefs, cultures, and traditions. A good education is when students graduate from college and know that the knowledge they have gained is not to be kept inside of a golden box inside their brain but should be dispensed to teach the next generation and to make the world a better and more richer place to live.

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