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What should a well-educated person know? - UniLang

What should a well-educated person know?

This forum is to learn about foreign cultures and habits, because language skills are not everything you need as a world citizen...

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Yasna
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What should a well-educated person know?

Postby Yasna » 2014-11-06, 2:00

What do you think a well-educated person should know?

Here's my opinion, and yes, I realize it's rather idealistic. I think they should be proficient in at least English and any other lingua franca of the region they live in. They should have general knowledge of chemistry, biology, physics, world history, geography, astronomy, nutrition, economics, finance, algebra, geometry, and calculus. By general knowledge I mean they should know most of what is found in a textbook covering the fundamentals of the respective field. They should be able to play at least one instrument and be proficient in at least one programming language. They should have read the majority of the classics of world literature.

I am looking at this from the perspective of education as a life-long process.


ETA: removed a few things
Last edited by Yasna on 2014-11-10, 18:15, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: What should a well-educated person know?

Postby Johanna » 2014-11-06, 2:35

"The classics of world literature" is a very ethnocentric concept, if not extremely so, at least they way most people think of these so-called classics.

They're also kind of stuck in time, with a disproportionately large amount of these works being from the 19th century.
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Re: What should a well-educated person know?

Postby Sol Invictus » 2014-11-06, 3:04

How to hang themselves efficiently

and also a little bit of everything else this is the serious part of my answer
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Re: What should a well-educated person know?

Postby vijayjohn » 2014-11-06, 4:02

I think a well-educated person should know how to respect both others and themselves (which implies that they shouldn't be full of themselves or act like the smartest person ever) and have the courage to decide for themselves what they should know intellectually, regardless of what anybody else thinks they should know. And this isn't the first time I've written a very convoluted sentence here. Sorry.

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Re: What should a well-educated person know?

Postby Levike » 2014-11-06, 5:37

They should know most of the things learnt in high-school,
plus be very good in their own field of study.

About what their behaviour should be like, that's another topic.
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Re: What should a well-educated person know?

Postby Halfdan » 2014-11-06, 6:06

Johanna wrote:"The classics of world literature" is a very ethnocentric concept, if not extremely so, at least they way most people think of these so-called classics.


World literature is more earthcentric. What about the greatness that is Martian literature?

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Re: What should a well-educated person know?

Postby Varislintu » 2014-11-06, 11:28

Hmm...

I think a well-educated person should have learned to think somewhat analytically about the world. Sure, they should be educated in (and have understood) the basics of the subjects that Yasna mentions, for example, but more important than them remembering all the theory all their lives is that that knowledge should have influenced how they structure and understand the world around them, and their ability to further understand new theories and concepts and assess them critically. In a way I'd like to think a well-educated person has learned to realise how little they know, but also learned skills to teach themselves more.

Secondly, I think they should be familiar with a broad range of current and past issues in the world. They should read the news, so to speak. They should also know and recognise the names of a lot of people who have been involved in those issues.

Thirdly, I think ideally they should have made some humanitarian realisations. I have a very hard time seeing the value in someone knowing world political history to the finest detail or having read all the classics of the world if that person at the same time suffers a strong disconnect from basic empathy or altruism. The lense they view that knowledge through and the ability of them to apply that knowledge loses worth through such a disconnect. They might count as educated, but are they well-educated? :hmm: I guess here we hit upon the subjectiveness of how we interpret the meaning of 'educated'.

Concerning reading, I think the point of most of the world classics is to promote either an altruistical, anti-oppression or anti-war message. That is usually why the authors wrote those things. So if you've read them all, that in itself is not of great value if you didn't understand anything about the world through them. Likewise, someone who has arrived at the same thoughts through some other road than reading the classics can in my opinon still count as well-educated. But I do think that a well-educated person should be familar with classics and their authors on a general level (see point 2 above).
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Re: What should a well-educated person know?

Postby Yasna » 2014-11-06, 16:30

Johanna wrote:"The classics of world literature" is a very ethnocentric concept, if not extremely so, at least they way most people think of these so-called classics.

They're also kind of stuck in time, with a disproportionately large amount of these works being from the 19th century.

I'm thinking about the classics from a global perspective rather than just the Greco-Roman classics. And anyways, the canon is always (slowly) evolving. If there is a 7th century masterpiece of Gambian literature that is just waiting to be discovered for a broader audience, then I am all for including it in the canon once this discovery process has been concluded.

vijayjohn wrote:I think a well-educated person should know how to respect both others and themselves (which implies that they shouldn't be full of themselves or act like the smartest person ever) and have the courage to decide for themselves what they should know intellectually, regardless of what anybody else thinks they should know.

By that logic, someone who has the "courage" to decide that the only thing they should really know is what happened on the last episode of Keeping up with the Kardashians is well-educated.

Varislintu wrote: In a way I'd like to think a well-educated person has [...] learned skills to teach themselves more.

I think this is really important. It's fine to not know all sorts of specialized topics, but if you don't know some fundamental things, you'd have a really hard time learning about specialized topics even if you wanted to. For example, good luck learning about physics or econometrics without knowing calculus.
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Re: What should a well-educated person know?

Postby IpseDixit » 2014-11-06, 16:34

By that logic, someone who has the "courage" to decide that the only thing they should really know is what happened on the last episode of Keeping up with the Kardashians is well-educated.


I think you've missed the word "intellectually".

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Re: What should a well-educated person know?

Postby Yasna » 2014-11-06, 17:06

IpseDixit wrote:I think you've missed the word "intellectually".

Then swap that with “knowing every species of the ant genus Aenictus".
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Re: What should a well-educated person know?

Postby IpseDixit » 2014-11-06, 17:21

I see your point but at least that person really is the master of something, not just a jack of all trades...

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Re: What should a well-educated person know?

Postby Varislintu » 2014-11-07, 9:09

Okay, I just happened to stray into areas of Facebook that I don't usually get exposed to and it reminded me of one thing I very, very much expect from a well-educated person: the ability to construct, write and present thoughts coherently and communicatively in writing. Dyslexia and other conditions are excused, of course. But for most people, expressing themselves in writing is a learnable skill -- it may not be a hard skill for all, but it still needs practice -- and a well-educated person has learned how to do it.
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Re: What should a well-educated person know?

Postby Yasna » 2014-11-07, 17:35

IpseDixit wrote:I see your point but at least that person really is the master of something, not just a jack of all trades...

So you think a person being well-educated is defined by whether or not they are specialized in something? I tend to think of it more in terms of whether a person's education has made them a well-rounded person who understands the world they live in and has a strong foundation that allows them to learn new things with ease.
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Re: What should a well-educated person know?

Postby mōdgethanc » 2014-11-07, 18:17

Yasna wrote:What do you think a well-educated person should know?

Here's my opinion, and yes, I realize it's rather idealistic. I think they should be proficient in at least English and any other lingua franca of the region they live in. They should have general knowledge of chemistry, biology, physics, world history, geography, climate science, astronomy, nutrition, economics, finance, algebra, geometry, and calculus. By general knowledge I mean they should know most of what is found in a textbook covering the fundamentals of the respective field. They should be able to play at least one instrument and be proficient in at least one programming language. They should have read the majority of the classics of world literature.

I am looking at this from the perspective of education as a life-long process.
So essentially, things that are important to you (especially math).

Without denying the importance of science, math and literature, I can think of a ton of important skills that everyone should know which are not in that list. Among them are personal finance (not business), computing (not programming), mechanical skills, sewing, cooking, first aid, and childcare. These things are probably a lot more useful to the average person than understanding how the world economy works, even if they don't lead to a high-paying job in the banking sector.

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Re: What should a well-educated person know?

Postby Marah » 2014-11-07, 18:48

modghethanc wrote:So essentially, things that are important to you (especially math).

Without denying the importance of science, math and literature, I can think of a ton of important skills that everyone should know which are not in that list. Among them are personal finance (not business), computing (not programming), mechanical skills, sewing, cooking, first aid, and childcare. These things are probably a lot more useful to the average person than understanding how the world economy works, even if they don't lead to a high-paying job in the banking sector.

Second that. By the same token I think people should know how to defend themselves physically against mobbing or other things, for instance. Should people also know how to cope without civilization? That is knowing how to hunt and whatnot? I'm not sure but I think it may be a useful thing to know.

Yasna wrote:By that logic, someone who has the "courage" to decide that the only thing they should really know is what happened on the last episode of Keeping up with the Kardashians is well-educated.

Having general knowledge about Pop culture can be useful, imo.
Last edited by Marah on 2014-11-07, 18:51, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What should a well-educated person know?

Postby Varislintu » 2014-11-07, 18:49

mōdgethanc wrote:cooking


Yeah. This particular one is one about which I think I even overreact unreasonably. I just become flabberghasted when an adult doesn't know any cooking. I really have to consciously stop myself from letting that influence my opinion of someone's maturity (because I don't trust that I'm in the right about how much cooking skills count). Just the other day I was watching an interesting reality show where British families live in the conditions of historical eras, and then suddenly, a 20+-year-old woman picks up a ginger root and goes "This is garlic, right? I'm pretty sure this is garlic." She was making food her mother usually cooks for her. Well, I couldn't speak properly for a minute after hearing that. :lol: That she doesn't know what a garlic looks like means that she has never, for example, paid attention to what the thing vampires are afraid of looks like in popular media (like cartoons or illustrations). How can you go 20+ years so un-observant? :para:

/rant, sorry.
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Re: What should a well-educated person know?

Postby linguoboy » 2014-11-07, 19:32

mōdgethanc wrote:Without denying the importance of science, math and literature, I can think of a ton of important skills that everyone should know which are not in that list. Among them are personal finance (not business)

+100. You cannot survive in modern society unless you understand how credit works. It was ten years after I graduated college before I could get the system to work for me--and I never had any problems with overspending or going into debt. (In some ways, I'd've been better off if I had: I'd never used credit, so as a result I had no credit rating.) My husband refused to move in with me until I'd made my own house purchase. He didn't want the place we bought together to be the first time I was going through all that.

It seem like physical and social skills in general are being forgotten about, perhaps because we all take them for granted? I have an object lesson in the form of my disabled older brother who nearly lost his apartment last year because he didn't understand the distinction between signalling friendliness and creeping someone the fuck out. I don't consider anyone "educated" if they don't understand basic etiquette: how to hold a conversation (turn-taking, politeness, when to change topics, etc.), how to dress properly, how to interact with service personnel, how to issue and respond to invitations, and so on and so forth. I also think it's necessary to understand health and wellness. What good does it do to study biology if you develop diabetes from poor diet or die of congestive heart failure before you're 40? And you don't need to play or follow a sport, but you should at least know the basics of those most commonly played around you. I don't award any points to someone who proudly brags of their ignorance of anything, and that includes football.

But more fundamental than any of these skills is critical thinking. Information is easier to find than ever, which means that the ability to filter that information and determine what is credible and what is not has never been more vital. I've seen people literally end up poisoning themselves because they believed some quackery they read on the Internet rather than accept the scientific consensus. Part of this is the ability to admit when you're wrong and learn from your mistakes. Again, it sounds basic, but I've seen people destroy their lives rather than reevaluate their ideological stances. You can't have learning be a lifelong process without getting good at being wrong.
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

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IpseDixit
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Re: What should a well-educated person know?

Postby IpseDixit » 2014-11-07, 19:38

Personally what strikes me in that list is the absence of:

    -philosophy
    -almost anything related to social sciences like political science, law and sociology
    -physiology
    -any subject related to the mind/brain
    -art / art history
    -religious studies

On the other hand, I don't see what's so important about climate science... once you know that the world is warming up and that we should reduce emissions in order to reverse this trend, what else do you have to know about climate?

But in any case, even though one might know all those disciplines, they could still be a perfect imbecile if they lacked an adequate emotional intelligence.

linguoboy wrote:But more fundamental than any of these skills is critical thinking


and this.

So you think a person being well-educated is defined by whether or not they are specialized in something?


Nope, I was just saying that I don't know how much better it is to have a shallow knowledge of a gazillion subjects.

I tend to think of it more in terms of whether a person's education has made them a well-rounded person who understands the world they live in and has a strong foundation that allows them to learn new things with ease.


Yep me too more or less, but "understand the world" is too vague a phrase that in concrete may mean a lot of different things.

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Re: What should a well-educated person know?

Postby mōdgethanc » 2014-11-08, 3:02

Varislintu wrote:then suddenly, a 20+-year-old woman picks up a ginger root and goes "This is garlic, right? I'm pretty sure this is garlic."
It might just be my interest in sexology, but I find it hard to mistake ginger for anything else.
linguoboy wrote:It seem like physical and social skills in general are being forgotten about, perhaps because we all take them for granted? I have an object lesson in the form of my disabled older brother who nearly lost his apartment last year because he didn't understand the distinction between signalling friendliness and creeping someone the fuck out. I don't consider anyone "educated" if they don't understand basic etiquette: how to hold a conversation (turn-taking, politeness, when to change topics, etc.), how to dress properly, how to interact with service personnel, how to issue and respond to invitations, and so on and so forth.
Social skills like pragmatics are definitely something I wish others paid more attention to, since few things are likely to get my blood boiling than people who interrupt me (or even worse, talk over me). This is one of the advantages of the internet: at least everyone's voice is the same volume.
I also think it's necessary to understand health and wellness. What good does it do to study biology if you develop diabetes from poor diet or die of congestive heart failure before you're 40? And you don't need to play or follow a sport, but you should at least know the basics of those most commonly played around you. I don't award any points to someone who proudly brags of their ignorance of anything, and that includes football.

But more fundamental than any of these skills is critical thinking. Information is easier to find than ever, which means that the ability to filter that information and determine what is credible and what is not has never been more vital. I've seen people literally end up poisoning themselves because they believed some quackery they read on the Internet rather than accept the scientific consensus. Part of this is the ability to admit when you're wrong and learn from your mistakes. Again, it sounds basic, but I've seen people destroy their lives rather than reevaluate their ideological stances. You can't have learning be a lifelong process without getting good at being wrong.
Just yesterday, I overheard at least two conversations I desperately wanted to jump into because of all the wrongness being said, but didn't out of shyness. (One was about antidepressants, the other about water fluoridation.) It's not necessary to be a scientist to have some basic critical thinking skills and learn not to take everything you hear at face value.

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Re: What should a well-educated person know?

Postby linguoboy » 2014-11-08, 3:07

mōdgethanc wrote:Just yesterday, I overheard at least two conversations I desperately wanted to jump into because of all the wrongness being said, but didn't out of shyness. (One was about antidepressants, the other about water fluoridation.) It's not necessary to be a scientist to have some basic critical thinking skills and learn not to take everything you hear at face value.

The bus I take to and from work in the mornings is packed with undergraduates. I have to work at suppressing this urge because otherwise it's All. I. Would. Ever. Do.
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons


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