To Be Or Not To Be (Educated)

That is the question. What does it mean to truly be educated? This is my second time coming back to this question, and my definition has completely changed in the almost 9 months since I first attempted to answer it. My thinking, my writing process, structure, and style, have all changed, my personality and lifestyle have changed, so doesn’t it make sense for my philosophies to change too?

Just this past weekend, I attended a dance festival at Central Connecticut State University. During a question session, one student asked the panel of dance professors and professional dancers what they think is their own definition of dance. The answer from such a wide range of individuals was astonishingly similar: they all agreed that their definition is constantly changing. It is different now than it was 10 years ago, and will be different again in another year. Time and experience adds and builds perspective so much that to every person the definition is different and constantly changing.

Asking a panel of such specialized professionals, creators, professors, and performers, for their take on their overarching passion, is bound to elicit a wide spectrum of answers. Yet, each person on the panel answered exactly the same way- they agreed to disagree. They all concluded that their definitions were different from each others and different from their own at other points in time. The definition is specific to each individual, and changes with that individual.

We can think of the idea of ‘being educated’ the same way. People all have such different experiences with school and education, and grow to eventually specialize in one topic. They have all taken different paths to get to their places, and are doing different things now in their lives. Their definitions of education should be just as diverse as those of dancers. Yet, they would almost surely agree, like the dancers, that the definition changes with time, experience, and technology. The achievement of ‘being educated’ is unique to the perspective of each individual based on the education they have.

Therefore, I cannot say what it means to be educated for each reader, or for anyone but myself. I can only explain what being educated means to me.

To me, being an educated person is being familiar with a wide range of topics, and being able to use the skills I learn from them to help better the community. Because of the schools I have attended and the values I have developed through the curriculums as well as through my family, being educated means doing well on my SATs and getting into a good college. 10 years ago when I was 7 years old maybe I would have said being educated meant I could write one whole page in cursive. Now writing in cursive is totally irrelevant to my education, so for me being an educated person does not include that. As I have changed, so has my definition.

You can have an education in music, dance, cooking, politics, math, biology, film, art, even in education. Almost every career in life requires some kind of an education — even training to work in a fast food restaurant. With all the paths of life, everyone will encounter education in some form. But to have the title of an Educated Person, that is up to you and your standards. Perhaps you are a dancer, have studied all types of dance, and are now the prima ballerina in a well known company. Maybe you never took a calculus class, but for your life and lifestyle, you don’t need to know calculus to call yourself educated. Are you a nobel prize winner for physics? To your standard of being educated, a ballerina may not pass, but probably not many people do. Maybe you are the first generation in your family to graduate high school. That diploma may signify that you are educated. To each their own, I say. Being an educated person is applying the education you have to your life. That could mean dancing, running experiments, or teaching- it’s all up to you.

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