An educated person

After the discussion about knowledge and skills, I had another discussion on the topic of “being an educated person” when a student asked: “Is someone with a college degree considered an educated person?” I told the class: “This is an interesting topic for discussion. Let’s debate on the question: “Is it possible for a person with a college degree but being considered “Uneducated?”

After a short discussion among students, a student volunteered: “Of course, people who have a college degree but behave like someone without an education can be called “Uneducated.” I asked: “Is that all?” Another student replied: “Sometimes people confuse education with schooling so they associated people who have a high degree as an educated person.” Another student added: “There are people with a high degree but still do not know anything. They passed exams, got a degree but had no skills.You have taught us about the difference between knowledge and skills”

I explained: “Although you have learned about knowledge and skills. However, an educated person is more than having knowledge and skills. By definition, education is the process of bringing out the potential of a person which result in the person understand his or her potential (i.e., knows themselves.) and based on that to act responsibly. That means whatever they do, they are responsible for their actions toward their family, their society, and their country. An educated person is someone who “know” and “act” accordingly.”

The issue is over time, the education system has been “standardized” based on certain academic knowledge but less on the potential of being a good person. Students learn the knowledge but without the “acting” they can not be an educated person. In some education system, the degree is based on passing some exams but many exams are about “regurgitated” what they memorize so people who have a good memory can get a degree. We have seen college graduates with a lot of theoretical knowledge but cannot do anything. Since people are judged mostly by their degrees, some students would focus on getting the degree by any mean including cheating. Unless students understand what is an educated person, it will be difficult to change their attitude toward the degree.


  • Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University
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