What is Education?

Isn’t it ironic that we throw so much money and time and effort into trying to achieve something we cannot define? And not only public schools and their supporters, but many independent folks, too.

We careen down the road of education, following maps created by people who had no more idea where they were going than we do.

Here we explore what it means to become educated. Through essays, the experiences of ourselves and others, book excerpts and more, we aim to know where we’re going and thus how best to get there.

One thing can be said almost for certain: Neither the destination nor the journey is the same for every person — and should not be. That leaves many questions, of course, but that’s the nature of life and something we have to live with rather than deny.

To this end, we explore…  

Education: What Results Do We Want?
Excerpt: Education, in my opinion, is about learning to interpret events and experiences in an increasingly mature and wise way. In order to do this, you must know things – that is, accumulate knowledge and experience. And you must understand things – that is, accumulate insight and wisdom.

Education vs. Schooling
Excerpt: Education involves entwining wisdom and discernment with knowledge. It means making judgments about knowledge. Education requires learners to ask why, not just what and how. And when they answer the question why, it requires them to ask, “In light of why, what now?”

Intellectual Hunger & Fear
Excerpt: Deep learning is the result of intellectual hunger. A person can be in possession of a tremendous amount of knowledge and still be intellectually empty. He can reach great heights of success and still be mentally sluggish.

The Six-Lesson School Teacher
by John Taylor Gatto

Excerpt: School is like starting life with a 12-year jail sentence in which bad habits are the only curriculum truly learned. I teach school and win awards doing it. I should know. More on John Gatto here.

To Accumulate Knowledge: Jacques Lusseyran, blind French Resistance hero of WWII, on education
Excerpt: To accumulate knowledge was good and beautiful, but the reason for men to acquire it would have been more meaningful, and no one spoke of that.

Dana Gioia on his personal education experience
Excerpt: I can’t think of better ways to learn than through pleasure and curiosity. I guess the reason these two qualities play so small a role in formal education is that they are so subjective and individual. Curiosity and delight can’t be institutionalized.

Founding Fathers’ Education
What did the education of the U.S. founding fathers look like? This book excerpt gives you a good idea.

Education vs. Schooling by Sol Smith
Excerpt: …and as you learn more, you should only learn that there is so much more that you haven’t learned. We don’t tell you this in school. We’re peddling a product. For you to earn your degree, you needn’t learn much. Even to get a doctorate, you don’t have to learn anything original. Instead what you really learn in college–or any other level of schooling–is how to navigate the system.

How to Become a Genius
Raymond and Dorothy Moore, Malcolm Gladwell, Albert Einstein, Alexander Hamilton, and Amadeus Mozart all make the same point – and it doesn’t have anything to do with our usual understanding of education.

It Couldn’t Be Important: An Illustrative Story
A teenage girl and her dad explore the meaning of education. Religious tone but lessons everyone can relate to.

Homeschool Stories & Philosophy
Illustrative stories and essays that explore various aspects of the meaning and means of education.


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