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What Is Education?

There are two schools of thought regarding what education is. The first, or descriptive, school emphasizes a child’s development from within. The other school of thought, or the formalist school, emphasizes formation from without, or immersion in culture, which involves transferring knowledge and engaging with its established ideas. While both sides are valid, there are important differences. Below is a brief description of each school of thought. Using these two approaches may help you determine which is best for your child.

Formal education takes place in a school. It consists of a structured and prescribed curriculum, specially trained teachers, and a final examination. The results of formal education are generally recognized by a third party. Alternatively, non-formal education is an informal educational environment, often not within a formal school. Non-formal education occurs outside of formal schooling and often involves self-directed study and is based on interests and skills.

While the rigor of an educational experience may be necessary for a successful future, it’s still worth questioning whether the benefits of a degree are worthwhile. In the current debate over education, many people focus on the economic benefit that it offers, and not on the quality of the person. It is widely accepted that students with an education earn higher wages than those with a lower-level education. But in reality, Caplan contends that education doesn’t really achieve anything more than signaling that students will become a good employee.

The purpose of education is to cultivate reason and suppress emotion. Albert O. Hirschman once described enlightenment as the triumph of interests over passions. Before the Enlightenment, passions were unruly, driving duels and wars of religion. But with a high-quality education, these passions waned and the pursuit of reason became the primary objective. In this way, the world became a better place.

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