What Exactly is Education?
What exactly do we mean when we talk about education. Are we referring to the process of learning or are we talking about the formal institution of schooling? Both fall under the term “education,” but are in no way the same thing. Dreamscaping and Lovescaping deconstruct these terms to highlight current inequalities in education and offer solutions to these injustices.
In order to imagine how education systems should function, we must first discuss the role of education and knowledge in a society. But this is problematic for me, as one person cannot and should not dictate what education and knowledge is. Society is a collection of people, and therefore society is (ideally) constructed from the negotiation of various viewpoints (although you do find instances where it isn’t). This, then, is my own view, just one interpretation out of many, of how education and knowledge in society are viewed.
I would define education as the formal mode of learning. When we ask, “what is your education?” we are asking what did you learn, what were you trained in, where did you go for study. Learning is the broader term that encompasses education. It consists of formal and informal structures. One learns by living, but one receives an education by attending a formal institution or structure, namely a school. Schooling then, is the formal process of education in which members of society learn, and while it is associated with education, schooling is most definitely not the same thing as learning. These are my own definitions, imparted to me from my own particular observations about my own society and upbringing. I acknowledge that this is my own interpretation, and it may not be accurate to the experiences and realities of other people.
Knowledge, for me, is probably the most problematic to define. There are many different forms of knowledge, and all too often, my own society values a particular kind of knowledge, namely what you learn in school, the formal institution of education and learning. And those who run the school, who are the keepers of knowledge, have power. Knowledge, what we individually and as a community hold to be knowledge, can be very different.
Given these definitions, and assuming that institutions of learning should be constructed, how should these systems be designed for society? Especially for a pluralistic society where many different identities, knowledges and philosophies collide and intersect.
Irene, what are your thoughts and visions of education for the world?
As Christian has rightly pointed out, education does not equal schooling. I love a quote by Mark Twain in which he says “do not let schooling interfere with your education.” Education is by no means constrained to the school setting, in fact, in many ways, the schooling systems we have do everything BUT educate. I would like to expand on Christian’s definition of education by stating that education needs to foster a love for learning. How we learn and what we should learn are huge topics that count with a number of theories and methods that claim to know what works and what doesn’t work. I am not going to dwell on any method or theory since it is nonsensical to have a one-size-fits-all-model that can benefit everyone. Every human being is different, and therefore every human being learns differently. We all have different traits that make us special and unique. Education should be tailored to enhance the traits that we have. That is, it should provide us with the tools to deepen the knowledge of our interests, our vocation and our passion.
Education should foster collaboration instead of competition, it should serve as a force to nurture peace that rejoices in the beauty that lies in diversity, and above all, a force that teaches us how to love. The importance of self-discovery, transformation and self-realization are central to the ideas of Dreamscaping and Lovescaping. Education, by fostering a love for learning, would serve as a means to become better human beings throughout our lives, always seeking resolutions over conflict, always seeking informed opinions that stem from a variety of sources, always humbling us with the realization that there is no such thing as an absolute Truth, for we all live different realities that are as valid as our neighbor’s. In the process, we become life-long learners that seek to learn from every experience we live and from every encounter we have.