Monday, June 01, 2015

What it means to be truly educated

I came across a delightful quote by Noam Chomsky about what it means to be truly educated that I couldn't agree with more:
"... it's not important what we cover in the class, it's important what you discover. 
To be truly educated from this point of view means to be in a position to inquire and to create on the basis of the resources available to you which you've come to appreciate and comprehend. To know where to look, to know how to formulate serious questions, to question a standard doctrine if that's appropriate, to find your own way, to shape the questions that are worth pursuing, and to develop the path to pursue them. That means knowing, understanding many things but also, ... to know where to look, how to look, how to question, how to challenge, how to proceed independently..."

Chomsky's response gets to the deep connection between education and autonomy. What it means to be educated is to have the motivation and the ability, to pursue inquiry and discovery on one's own. The goal of our academic institutions should be to cultivate in each student the confidence, the drive, the tools needed to pursue and discover truths about how our world is, and to articulate and shape how it ought to be. Our classrooms should not be focused only on the transmission of known facts and methods.