What Does It Mean to Be Well-educated - Essay Sample

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1670 Words
Date:  2021-04-09


For years many authors and academicians have put forward different definitions of education or rather what it means to be well educated, yet there is still no single universally accepted criterion to determine a well-educated person. According to Stevens (2017), education is so broad that not a single definition can sufficiently encompass what a learner accrues over the duration of the learning process. A good education should at least involve developing habits of mind like curiosity and analysis, the ability to make things and the capacity to love oneself, others and the environment and not just being prepared for the workforce. Debates on the attributes of education are common among various scholars (Kohn, 2004). The purpose of this paper is to explain what it means to be well educated as per Alfie Kohns article on the characteristics of educated people.

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The Flawed Emphasis on Tests, Grades, and Specialization

The present system of education put a lot of emphasis on tests, grades and specialization without caring much on what impact the whole process has on the general life of the students later in life. Kohn (2017) argues that the system has become too dependent on test results that the real intent of the education has fizzled out with time leaving only a group of schools, administrators, and teachers who demand nothing short of total compliance to the market demand of the workforce and specialization in the given field of study. Few people, if any bother even to pay attention to the need to inculcate the general knowledge into the students including the life skills, political views, social elements of the peoples being and the important attributes that a citizen ought to exhibit to live and co-exist with others and the environment.

Specialization into fields such as medicine, criminal law, electronic engineering and many others makes the professional adopt a small-world-like life as to them; there is no life outside their area of interest of the profession. Like in the case of Alfie Kohns ex-wife, who is a competent physician commanding respect and admiration from both her peers and colleagues based on the perfection with which she goes about in her professional duty. However, it is unknown to them is the fact that she is very poor in simple mathematics and grammar yet despite that fact, she is regarded as well-educated (Kohn, 2017). She has little knowledge on matters outside her area of practice and probably wouldnt care about it as long as she feels comfortable in her profession. Therefore, this discredits the use of the academic qualifications and achievements as the sole reliable criterion of determining whether a person is well learned or not.

The Complexity of Evaluating Education and Assessment Criteria

There is a consistent absence of consensus on what schools should teach or what the students should know to be considered well educated (Stevens, 2017). The learning content tends to vary too much among different schools based on the cultures, countries, regions, religions and the time. An essential element of learning in one place might not necessarily be that highly regarded in another location. For example, the disparity in educational experiences between the United States and Africa, the Middle East and Europe and the differences between the different states within the U.S. According to Dennings (2017), there is also a significant variation that has developed over time. Comparing the different eras, what was considered relevant in the 20th century might not necessarily be relevant in the 21st century.

Therefore, it is tricky to judge the level of education without putting into consideration the needs of the people, resources available to them, their cultures and generally what they consider important to them at the time (Kohn, 2004). Also, when evaluating the level of education of people, its important to be clear on the assessment criteria; whether it is what one teaching or what one has learned, what one know or what one can do, the quality of the schooling process or the quality of the person himself or herself. This distinction in an examination is important since a student can be taught a lot yet remembers so little, knows so much but can do just a bit, or the person went through a good school with splendid learning facilities and procedures yet has nothing to show from all that both in person and behavior.

The True Essence of Being Well-Educated

A well-educated person is one that has taken advantage of the supportive environment to acquire as much knowledge, inculcate it into his daily routine by applying it to solve problems, make life better and make himself a better person (Denning, 2017). Having undergone a comprehensive educational process in the best environment possible with sufficient resources is not a guarantee that the product will always be a well-educated person. The observers and the intellectuals should therefore not take it so lightly when determining the threshold to be used to depict the educated against perceived educated people.

The attributes on those regarded as well- educated have been flouted at will with the passing time giving way for values and goals that dont even make sense and others that are not only insufficient but are also unnecessary (Stevens, 2017). The use of the total time count a student spends in class, standardized test scores, specific job skills and memorization of facts has demeaned the value and intention of the real education that is supposed to exist. To a layperson, the achievement of the upper limits of the mentioned attributes would quickly qualify one to a spot among the most accredited academicians, but the truth proves to the contrary. Just sitting in a classroom for a certain number of hours does not necessarily make one well educated (Kohn, 2017). It takes a lot of actual participation in classroom learning activities to be able to gain something worthwhile.

In the case of standardized test scores, no single test is sufficiently valid and reliable as a marker for academic success. Some students are smarter and are able thinkers, yet they fail the tests while some who are intellectually dwarf and have several inadequacies still end up passing the tests (Stevens, 2017). Memorization of a bunch of facts is another misleading criterion for determining academic excellence since familiarity with certain information or knowing a lot of stuff could prove as irrelevant and pointless as the information itself. Education should involve a deeper understanding of situations at different interphases and the ability to manipulate that knowledge and apply it at will in real life scenarios.

The Unattainability of a Single Definition of Being Well-Educated

There is no single definition of what being well educated even means, and for the sake of diversity, there should be none (Kohn, 2017). With the current trends of overspecialization by professionals into narrowed fields, there cannot be a universally acceptable way of determining whether a person is well educated or not and maybe there will never be a single criterion ever. This is down to the fact that each profession has its prerequisites for one to join and flourish in it, including its standards and jargons. One can be proficient in a given field yet totally dumb on the other. Differences in the environments people live in, their life experiences and their sufferings would make it unfair for the academic jury to judge them equally. The type of school one attends what the person becomes in one way or the other. A school centered on problems, projects and questions mold students to be ready to apply the knowledge gained in the changing world unlike schools focused on facts, skills, and discipline (Dennings, 2017).


In conclusion, education is meant to enlighten one on a broad area by generating interest and passion that pushes a person to seek competence in a variety of ways. Adequate knowledge not in a particular small field of study but the general view of life is considered a major attribute of a well-educated person. Despite the high specialization occasioning the current change in the educational system and professionalism, there is still need for a person to be able to apply the knowledge in other different areas of practice and keep abreast of the ongoing events in the general population. A variety of ways should, therefore, be applied when determining whether somebody is educated or not without restricting our scope of judgment.


Denning, S. (2017). What Does It Mean To Be Educated? Retrieved 2 March 2017, from http:////www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2011/07/31/what-does-it-mean-to-be-educated/#5e38243274d7

Kohn, A. (2017). What Does It Mean to Be Well-Educated? - Alfie Kohn. Alfie Kohn. Retrieved 2 March 2017, from http://www.alfiekohn.org/article/mean-well-educated-article/

Kohn, A. (2004). What does it mean to be well educated? And more essays on standards, grading, and other follies. Beacon Press.

Stevens, S. (2017). What Does It Mean to Be Well-Educated? The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2 March 2017, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sabrina-stevens-shupe/what-does-it-mean-to-be-w_1_b_781240.html

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What Does It Mean to Be Well-educated - Essay Sample. (2021, Apr 09). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/what-does-it-mean-to-be-well-educated-essay-sample

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