What Is It To Be Educated? -- By: Charles William Super
BSac 62:245 (Jan 1905) p. 146
What Is It To Be Educated?
There are few words, except those relating to the ordinary affairs of life, that are more frequently used than “educated,” “education,” “educator,” and their more or less exact equivalents. Education is one of the most vital interests,—in its best sense, the most vital interest,—with which a civilized people has to deal. Everybody who thinks at all has reflected upon it, while many more who can hardly be said to think repeat what they hear said by others. It has been a favorite theme for discussion by philosophers almost from the beginning of recorded history; it is to-day talked about by persons who have little time to consider anything but where the next meal is to come from.
Some years ago an old ex-slave came to my office to consult me about some trifling affair of business. He informed me that he could neither read nor write, and gratuitously offered the opinion that these qualifications were of no use. He had got along without them, he said, and would not send his children to school if he had his way about it. I soon learned that his opposition to what he called “eddycation” did not arise from a desire to exploit the labor of his children, since they, one after another, had left him to shift for himself, but from sheer stupidity. Notwithstanding his indifference, and apparently without being aware of the inconsistency, he informed me, in the further course of our conversation, that years ago he had accumulated a little property, but in his ignorance he had been induced to
BSac 62:245 (Jan 1905) p. 147
sign papers he could not read, an act that eventually caused him the loss of all his possessions. This self-satisfied devotee at the shrine of Apathy clung to his dictum that he had got along without education, in spite of his unfortunate experience. But even he had given some thought to the subject, and reached a conclusion that coincided exactly with that of persons of whom one might expect better things.
How many men have formulated in their own minds a consistent answer to the question, What is it to be educated? or, What ought to be the end of education? All men are agreed that “we must educate “; yet, the more I listen to discussions on the subject, the more firmly I am convinced that there is a surprising lack of clearness of vision. Ten times as much thought and effort are expended on the consideration of methods of imparting knowledge as on instructing the young upon the proper use to make of knowledge. Let us examine some of the most important characteristics of the educated man.
In the first place, the educated man must be equipped with a certain amount of knowledge. This amount it is, in the nature of t...
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