What is education?

What is education?
According to the Oxford Dictionary the word educate is defined as “Give intellectual, moral, and social instruction to (someone, especially a child), typically at a school or university.” The word originates from the  Latin educat- ‘led out’, from the verb educare, related to educere ‘lead out.’ As expectant parents sixteen years ago, my husband and I asked ourselves this very question. We believed the subject of education was much more than a dictionary definition, so we began our quest to discover what the word education meant to us. I perused the library catalog for books on the topic of education. After obtaining over twenty books on the topic from our local library system it was time to begin the investigation.  I retired to my chase lawn chair in the shade with a large bottle of water, my faithful Labrador retriever Samson, and my stack of over twenty titles on the topic of education. Systematically I began to peruse through the titles. By the end of the afternoon only three titles had made the cut to my reading list. The Well Trained Mind by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer, A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on The Gentle Art of Learning by Karen Andreola and Dr. Beechick’s Answer Book by Ruth Beechick.

I selected The Well Trained Mind as my first read. As the authors comment, the purpose of the resource is to serve “as a handbook on how to prepare your child to read, write, calculate, think and understand.” The book was reminiscent of the education I had received, and reinforced my belief in what I had been taught from Kindergarten through Grade 12.

A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on The Gentle Art of Learning by Karen Andreola was my second choice to read from. In a nutshell, Karen gives you a concise outline of what a Charlotte Mason education looks like. The author takes you through the educational philosophy of Charlotte Mason and teaches you how to apply it in the “practical, everyday setting” of home education. Since my maternal grandmother was home educated with this particular educational philosophy, Karen’s book was inviting as it is authored in a conversational tone.

The third book on my list was Dr. Beechick’s Answer Book by Ruth Beechick. As a novice entering the arena of home education, my head was literally swimming with questions. Educational philosophy, learning theory, preschool, reading, writing, math, science, history, family life, Bible, curriculum, high school, testing, and special education are topics which Dr. Beechick covers in her book. After reading this particular selection, I felt empowered and encouraged that choosing “the road less traveled” was the right road for our child and family.
As our family began the journey of home education, we came to understand education is more than just learning grammar, math facts, historical dates, the continents and scientific facts. Education is so much more. Education is using the opportunities in our family and the real world for teaching. It is training our child to establish good habits and learn self-control. Education applies to the body, soul and spirit. A child’s mind is living and needs knowledge to grow. A child’s curriculum should be rich and generous, exposing the child to interesting, living ideas and concepts. (1)

In closing, I would like to leave your with a quote from Charlotte Mason which has served as a compass throughout the home education journey: “The question is not—how much does the youth know when he has finished his education—but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?” (2)

1.  2004 L. N. Laurio, CM’s 20 Principles, Ambleside Online, 2004

  1. Mason, Charlotte, School Education: Developing a Curriculum, United States of America: Tyndale House, 1989.

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