what does education mean to you

What does education mean to you? I can think of at least three definitions I could use. I’ll give you one for each of the three major types of education. Then you can choose which definition best fits your own needs. The three main types of education are practical, academic, and lifelong learning.

Practical learning is what most people imagine when they consider how to best learn new things. Learning takes place in the here and now, through real-life experiences. People who practice practical learning tend to be curious about the world and they seek to understand it. Practical learners are sociable, curious, goal-oriented, and motivated to learn.

Academic learning is based on knowledge or the accumulation of scientific knowledge over time. Academic learners are dedicated, disciplined, analytical, detail-oriented, and self-directed. Academic learners are independent, self-directed, detail-oriented, and highly motivated to learn. They acquire their most important learning objects through research, experimentation, and textbook reading.

Life-long learning is something we all must do. It involves the whole person – mind, body, and spirit – and it involves social interaction, communication, and teamwork. Life-long learning is a progressive process that makes people more mature, aware, and able to live successfully. Life-long learners are flexible, creative, goal-oriented, motivated, and they acquire most of what they need from traditional institutions (the classroom, books, media), from parents and other adults in their life, from life-skill learning experiences, through experiences (boarding a bus, practicing violin) and from mentors and teachers (making an effort to attend a class without the fear of not being understood).

A third type is lifelong learning. This is education that is relevant to a person’s entire existence. It may be acquired by reading, writing, studying, or discovering things about life that help people make informed decisions. Life-long learners seek knowledge that is relevant to their experience of the world and the people and institutions in it. They need to know how to critically examine information they have collected and used, they need to evaluate the facts and arguments presented to them, they need to compare and contrast, they need to synthesize different information to arrive at a balanced and meaningful judgment.

An advanced level of what does education mean to you is what I call knowledge-based education. Knowledge-based education entails a focus on understanding rather than learning what a student knows. It also recognizes the value of lifelong learning and the importance of continually renewing knowledge as the patterns of everyday life change. Knowledge-based education takes into account the ways in which students learn what they know and how that knowledge can be used to enrich their lives. It also takes into account the ways in which students learn what they do not know, what they need to know in order to survive in the society in which they live, and how that knowledge can become part of their lives.

A third type of what does education mean to you is what I call communicative education. This form of education is concerned with the ways in which students convey messages and engage with others. Its goal is for students to know how to communicate their views and their needs to those who will be listening to, studying, and using that communication. Knowing what does education mean to you involves being aware of what forms of communication are appropriate to your given circumstances and the impact of those messages will have on others.

The fourth element of what does education mean to you is participation. Learning requires active involvement by students in the process of learning and the dissemination of that learning. Students who do not participate in the process of learning do not understand what does education mean to them.