Education, Schooling, Learning

I do not like the word education—especially when it is not only confused with but mistaken for learning.  Originally, education in English meant “bringing up.”  That is not identical with schooling.  A man or woman who “has been well brought up” (alas, an almost obsolete phrase nowadays) suggests something about good manners, mental or physical manners, and little or nothing about his or her academic education.  Also, education  may mean something that is definite or complete, whereas learning is both broader and less definite, at least faintly suggesting a process that might be still going on.  We can recognize and speak about an “educational bureaucracy,” while a learning bureaucracy would make no sense at all.  There were scholiasts centuries ago, and scholars even now, but educationists are only a relatively recent, and very American, phenomenon.

I cannot say much about education at present, for the main reason that I retired (more precisely: I was forced to retire) from college teaching now more than six years ago.  But I have taught in American colleges (and here and there, also elsewhere) for exactly 50 years, half of a century.  My memories may be like slices of Swiss cheese, but, apart from the holes, there may still be enough of them to construct a fondue,...

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