Characteristic educated Person
William Cronon, the author of ‘Uncommon Ground’
They listen and they hear: Educated people know how to pay attention to others and to the world around them. They hear the emotion in the voice of the other, they can follow an argument, track logical reasoning. The quality of an educated person is that they can hear with respect. This idea of hearing reminded me of the words of the Woman Poet, Gertrud Kollmar when she said, “You hear me speak. But do you hear me feel?” (3). Gertrude Kollmar did not survive the Holocaust, but some of her poems did and her question reminds each of us of the effort we must make to hear both words and feelings.
They read: Skilled readers know how to read more than mere words. They recognise and understand great works of art, music and athletic achievement. They read for the sheer joy of reading and they read to understand our world.
They can talk with anyone: Educated people can talk to anyone -a high school dropout or a college president. Moreover when they talk they participate in conversation, ask thoughtful questions, and listen to the other’s point of view.
They can write: Educated people know the craft of putting words together. They can express what is in their hearts and minds so as to teach, persuade or move the person who reads their words to think and reflect about life and their part in it.
Educated people are puzzle solvers: The ability to solve problems, to be comfortable with computers, to look at a complicated reality and break it into pieces, figure out how it works and then put it back together again, is the mark of the educated. This involves a cosmic consciousness because part of the challenge of the modern world is to respect the integrity of the world by replacing what we as human beings have destroyed.
Rigor and truth seeking: A truly educated person loves to learn. They understand that knowledge serves values and that these need to be in constant dialogue with each other. True rigor is noble, good but it is also dangerous if it is not placed at the service of a larger vision that also renders it humane. We must never forget that the gas chambers of Europe were invented by the educated. Teach students to Respect education and to Beware of education.
Educated people are tolerant and humble: A truly educated person has the ability to step outside their own intellectual range and emotional prejudices and open themselves to other perspectives. The liberally educated person opposes parochialism and celebrates the wider world. Without encountering people who are different we will never appreciate all that we have in common. Encourage students to travel, to embrace new cultures while honouring their own, to respect diversity.
They strive to make the world a better place: Learning to get things done in the world in order to leave it in a better shape is one of the practical implications of education. As the great Dr. Albert Schweitzer, the accomplished concert organist, theologian, missionary and medical doctor said “You may have a great education, you may have the name of a great college behind you, you have great careers ahead of you, but if you do not block out at least a small part of your life to give to others, you will never be truly happy.” (4) Teach students the examine at the end of each day: How has the world become a better place today, because of me?
They educated person nurtures and empowers: No one ever acts alone. The achievement of power, the exercise of talent, the celebration of diversity is the recognition that the triumph of one is in fact the triumph of all. The liberally educated person understands that we belong to a community and that the well being and success of the other is crucial to my own.
What is education? It is about Connection: The liberally educated person is able to make sense of the world by making connections. If we want to measure how institutions are doing we need to look at how we encourage people to connect.