Theory on the Educated Person

Brittany Hinkel, Shift Editor/ Cartoonist

There is no true way to define education, or what an educated person is. There could be an infinite number of definitions: each based on different principles such as: religion, ethnicity, gender, nationality, geography, and culture.

In other words, each definition of the word is unique to the individual defining it. Certainly, the broad approach would be the best way to attempt to define what an educated person is.

An educated person is a person who learns from life lessons, constantly questions those things believed to be truths, and understands that knowledge is never completely attained.

First and foremost, an educated person learns from life lessons. According to David James, the author of “The Poet of Our Dreams: The Real Meaning of Education,” “There is no one right path; there are an infinite number of right paths, each determined by personal choice.

As long as learning and growth occur, then each person is climbing toward that illusive and indefinable concept of the educated person.”

One may argue that the entire purpose of life is to grow and learn, and that the most important part of life is failure and the ability to overcome it. So, if one makes mistakes and does not learn from them, no growing or learning is taking place.

Therefore, one who does not learn from failure is not educated.   One who has been through many failures and other experiences is able to ascertain a pattern and decipher what will happen next.

While learning from life lessons is crucial to becoming educated, it is also important to realize that an educated person constantly questions those things believed to be truths. One who is educated must take a philosophical approach to every belief: not merely accepting, but re-observing and further exploring them.

In fact, a” New York Talk of the Town” columnist wrote in the New Yorker on in January of 1948 that people could learn a thing from dogs, since they have the tendency of  “covering many miles of territory that the man never traverses, all in the spirit of inquiry and the zest for the truth.”

An educated person also realizes that it is important to practice independent thought. This is perhaps one of the most important characteristics because an individual who does not form his or her own thoughts or beliefs on certain ideas (such as normality) would be considered impassive, unreceptive, and ignorant: not educated.

Merely being skeptical and open-minded is not enough to make one truly educated. One must also be able to take the information that has been conveyed and develop an original thought or idea from it.

Finally, an educated person understands that knowledge is never completely attained. An educated person is a person who is always in a constant state of inquiry and curiosity.

It may seem illogical to propose that one who is educated must be curious and willing to learn more, however, the ultimate goal of the educated is to gain knowledge that is relevant and brings purpose to his or her life.

David James describes a poet as an example of an educated person, because in his opinion, a poet is a perfect example of a combination of purpose and imagination.

There is not, nor will there ever be, one true definition to education or what an educated person is. Each definition will always be unique to the one defining it.