What Does It Mean to be a Well-Educated Person?


I’m well aware by the questions I’m asked that my readers are among the most educated people in Huntsville, so I need your help with a central question that is at the heart of every single posting I’ve written over the past year.

It’s a question that I cannot, and should not, attempt to answer on my own. Any individual’s answer is insufficient. This is a question that must be answered by a community, by a neighborhood, if you will.

And so, I ask you, my neighbors, what does it mean to you to be a well-educated person?

Please feel free to be as descriptive and detailed as possible. And as I tell my students every day, specific examples are always welcomed.

For example, when I think of a well-educated person, I don’t think of qualities or traits. I think of a specific individual. (Well, I think of many individuals.) Some of these individuals are as degreed as is possible like many of my college professors. Some of them have a high school diploma.

So help me to develop a collection of traits and qualities that we as a community value and think that our schools, colleges, and universities should help to provide.

Perhaps you could imagine that you are developing a curriculum for your own child. What ideas, concepts and traits would you consider to be important as they develop their education?

So, what does it mean to be a well-educated person?

"Children see magic because they look for it." --Christopher Moore, Lamb: The Gospel according to Biff, Jesus' childhood pal.


  1. To me, well educated means:

    *capable of critical thinking
    *capable of self education (ie: asking questions, seeking answers, integrating that information to inform new questions)
    *an understanding of the scientific process (develop a hypothesis, test it, er, well, pretty much what I put under capable of self education now that I think about it)
    *equipped with basic life skills (able to balance a check book, understand tax, calculate % discounts and tips, reading, writing, algebra, geometry)
    *an understanding and appreciation of history, art, politics, culture
    *an ability to articulate their own ideas–to individuals and groups, in writing and verbally
    *the ability to have reasoned discourse with people they disagree with
    *a willingness to get involved and speak out on the behalf of both others and themselves
    *the ability to see the perspectives of others

  2. Being well educated means (among other things) that you have learned enough to know how learn independently, without a teacher. It isn’t about knowing the answers as much as it is about knowing how to find information that you need, how to evaluate sources of information critically, and then how to digest, synthesize, and use what you know to find or create the answers that you need. That’s why teaching to the test does not produce good results – education in the end should be more about teaching students how to find/create answers rather than teaching them what the answers are. Education that only imparts information without teaching students to discover and use it critically is not good education.

  3. I think you should be as well-read as possible. Be interested in a variety of subjects. Continue to learn throughout your life–everyday. And I do think you need to have a college education, either a 4-year college or a 2 year degree.

Comments are closed.