For my regular visitors, if you find that this blog hasn't been updating much lately, chances are pretty good I've been spending my writing energy on my companion blog. Feel free to pop over to Home is Where the Central Cardio-pulmonary Organ Is, and see what else has been going on.

Friday, September 22, 2006

When they say, "education," they really mean...

As a parent who chooses not to send my kids to school, I've found myself much more aware of things that I probably wouldn't notice otherwise. Among these is how people use the term "education," when they really mean "schooling."

ed‧u‧ca‧tion[ej-oo-key-shuhn] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
1.the act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgment, and generally of preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life.
2.the act or process of imparting or acquiring particular knowledge or skills, as for a profession.
3.a degree, level, or kind of schooling: a university education.
4.the result produced by instruction, training, or study: to show one's education.
5.the science or art of teaching; pedagogics.

school‧ing[skoo-ling] Pronunciation Key
1.the process of being taught in a school.
2.instruction, education, or training, esp. when received in a school.
3.the act of teaching.
4.Archaic. a reprimand.

By definition, education is something that can happen anywhere, and never truly ends. Schooling, on the other hand, is much more specific, and has a termination point. Yet the phrases I so commonly hear are things like this...

"When I finished my education..."
"Get an education, then get a good job..."
"It's important for kids to get an education..."
"Our future depends on educating our kids..."

I see and hear statements like these in many places. In newspapers, during business meetings, in conversations on the street. Yet very often, when people make these statements, they are no, in fact, talking about eductation, but schooling.

"Our future depends on educating our kids, therefore the government must give more funding to ECE centres, preschools and daycares."
"It's important for kids to get an education, so we have to do something about the drop out rate and keep them in school."
"Get an education, then get a good job - you need a high school diploma or a degree."
"When I finished my education, I never read a book again."

I think it's a mistake to use the terms "education" and "schooling" interchangeably, yet it is very common. In some ways, I believe it goes back to the early days of our country's developement. There were no schools, and parents recognised that they weren't able to give their kids all the knowledge they wanted them to have, so they started schools. It's interesting to read about early NA schools. The children tended to start far later than today - and most already knew how to read, having been taught by their parents. The amount of time children spent in the classroom was much lower. At the same time, what the teachers were expected to teach was much more basic. I believe that it's from this time period that the useage of "education" and "schooling" eventually evolved to become interchangeable.

I, however, think we do ourselves and our children a disservice by viewing it this way. We've had it ingrained in us for so long that we go to school to "get an education," we begin to see education as something that's done *to* us, and as something that is finite. Education, however, begins from the moment we are born (or, argueably, even prenatally), and ends when we die. As humans, we are constantly learning, though we rarely think of it. There's no need to consciously think about it. Schooling, however, tends to be something that's forced upon us as children. It's human nature to resist being forced into something. As the years go by, we can hardly wait until we're finished our "education," so we can get out of an institution. I've met far too many adults who, because of their school experiences, resist anything that smacks of "education."

Argh. I'm having difficulty clarifying my thoughts to say what I intended to right now. It could have something to do with the garbage trucks that are currently outside my balcony. I can't think straight with all the banging, crashing, etc. It doesn't help that I've got a cold and my head is all foggy. LOL

Mostly, I just wanted to comment on how so many use the term "education" when they really mean to say "schooling." The terms aren't really interchangeable, but in the minds of many, they are synonymous. I feel that this, more than anything, is what makes is so difficult for people to understand home based education. In their minds, education has become something that can only be achieved in a classroom, with a teacher imparting information, with text books and testing. So when they hear me say that we don't use grade levels, that I don't make the kids sit down and "do school," they don't understand it. It doesn't mesh with their notion of what education is.

There are many tools one can use to get an education. School is one of them, but far from the only one.

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