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Defining Education

It might seem that there is some agreement on the question of a definition for the word "education," since we all have some sense that we know what it means and that we share with others in our society that meaning. However, an examination of the literature shows that the issue is not quite that simple and that there is controversy even over the derivation of the word from Latin. How we define education determines what sort of education we provide, what teaching methods we use, and what expectations we bring to the enterprise for both the student and the teacher. There is no doubt that we have high expectations for education as an institution. Education in a democratic society holds a special place for improving social standing, educating the electorate, and providing opportunity to all. Educational level is a powerful indicator of social inequality on several levels. The level of educational attainment achieved by the individual determines to a great degree the type of job that person will be able to get and thus the economic and social level to which they may aspire. In many businesses, continuing education is necessary for advancement and so adds further to stratification in the business world. Social inequality is often measured in terms of educational level as much as it is economic level, and perceived failures in the educational system, such as are noted in the inner cities, are blamed for many social problems based on resulting inequities in employment, social aspirations, and other dimensions.

Barrow and Woods (1975) note the argument that developed over the derivation of the word "education," whether it was from "educere" for "lead out" or "educare," or "to train," with the meaning of imposing knowledge. The authors point out that the argument over the original word is foolish, but the argument over the distinction in teaching style is not. They further point out that education should take into account the needs ...

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Defining Education. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 19:54, January 23, 2017, from