July 15, 2021•866 words
What does it mean to be truly educated? This is one of the questions that we oftentimes haven't heard of or have the answer to. Many of us grew up going to school because everyone else around us seems to be doing so. We are pretty much trapped in a societal loop of growing up, getting higher education, possessing a higher degree, getting a well-paid job, settling down to raise a family, and trying to stay alive healthily until our last day. Most of the education systems in many places around the globe don’t remind us to ask ourselves this one particular question, because we are too fixated on manufacturing enough obedient and conformed workforces to keep the world economy going. I am writing this essay to discuss this question. To be truly educated means to be able to know how to best acquire knowledge and learn to think about what is true for ourselves. It is more than acquiring a degree.
We are responsible for figuring out what our learning style is when it comes to acquiring knowledge. Learning is a very individual experience. Every student has a different learning style. One student might be an auditory learner, whereas another one is a kinesthetic learner, who learns best by experiencing and doing hands-on activities. I am a visual learner, so I like to observe and prefer my learning experiences to revolve around diagrams, scribbles, pictures, and videos. Being aware of my learning style allows me to choose the right note-taking strategy to use, which in my case is mind mapping. Moreover, learning style could also be about self-studying versus classroom learning. I like to do self-studying on different topics that I find fascinating. Thus, asynchronous learning, a form of education that allows you to learn at your own pace from anywhere at any time, suits me very well. On the other hand, some students might need to be sitting in a classroom listening to someone talking and interacting with other students. Victor Weisskopf, an Austrian-born American theoretical physicist, said, “It's not important what we cover in the class, it's important what you discover” (Chomsky, 2015). Whatever learning style fits you most, it is our responsibility with the help of our education system to discover it and make the most use out of it to best acquire knowledge for ourselves.
In the modern internet age of our data-driven world, we must be able to critically think about what is true for ourselves. There is quadrillion bite site information out there on the internet to which we have access. Information is no longer accumulated only in physical volumes or kept exclusively in ivy-league school libraries or government offices. There are global revolutionary movements that advocate for free open access to intellectuals' legacy ー their findings, researches, books and journals, knowledge, and ways of thinking. The University of the People is doing exactly that. Nowadays, we can search for almost anything on the internet at our fingertips. Hence, the question doesn’t lie in whether or not we have access to necessary information, but whether or not we have the ability to distinguish the truth from faulty information. This is where the ability to think independently, question existing knowledge, and challenge what we have been told comes into play. We all want to make the right decisions in our lives despite knowing that mistakes can also help us learn. Therefore, critical thinking is one of the most valuable skills we should be seeking for us to decide for ourselves what is true.
The sole purpose of education goes beyond merely obtaining a degree. Wilhelm von Humboldt claims that the core principle and requirement of a fulfilled human being is the ability to inquire and create constructively independently without external controls (as cited in Chomsky, 2015). Learning is a lifelong experience. A person can either keep learning gradually every single day or become stagnant. The desire to acquire knowledge and the commitment to work hard to expand one’s knowledge and others’ are what makes us human and what has brought us to where we are at now. The degree could get us the job we desire, the salary we need, and the lifestyle we dream of. However, what is more meaningful than that is the satisfaction and happiness we get from our enlightenment ー the ability to understand the world around us ー and the application of that understanding in creating creatively and constructively the solutions to improve our own lives and others’.
In conclusion, as we are going through our education journey, it is useful to remind ourselves often about what it means to be truly educated so that we can stay motivated and on track. Being truly educated is more than just getting a higher degree, it is about how we can discover our learning style to best acquire knowledge. It is about how we acquire the critical thinking skill needed to analyze for us to make the best use of the information and knowledge we have accumulated while making a difference in our lives and the world.
Chomsky, N. [The Brainwaves Video Anthology]. (May 27, 2015). Noam Chomsky - On Being Truly Educated [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYHQcXVp4F4