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What should a well-educated person know? - Page 3 - 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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Car
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Re: What should a well-educated person know?

Postby Car » 2014-11-09, 19:30

linguoboy wrote:
xivrox wrote:If they don’t learn it at school, they’ll regret it later in life. It’s housecraft after all. I just don’t think they belong there… :hmm:

By "they" do you mean the subjects or the students?

In the States, at least, many schools make these subjects elective. That's fine as far as it goes, but my concern is that students who would benefit the most from these courses won't take them because if the parents don't value these skills enough to teach them at home, why would they allow their children to study them at school rather than something else?

That reminds me of my time in primary schools. There were a couple of elective courses. In one term, the cookery (and baking) course proved very popular among girls, but I'm not sure if any boys took it at all (I only took it the following term when interest had dropped a lot for some reason). Surely us girls were much more likely to learn that at home than the boys.

People tend to forget a great deal of what they're taught, we should first of all make sure that that is reduced. E.g. at uni there was a prep course for maths which was attended by students who proudly wore their shirt saying they finished school that year. The course just repeated what was taught in upper sec and it's very likely they had maths all the way to the end. In the actual lectures, a lot of time was spent on refreshing that knowledge, too, just as in English lessons.
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Re: What should a well-educated person know?

Postby Varislintu » 2014-11-09, 19:49

@voron: Yeah, I agree there could be a lot of improvement in many subjects concerning how they are taught. Or, shall we say, I am certain there are many, many teachers who still teach in ridiculously ineffective ways. And then there are good teachers, too, who manage to unlock their students' thinking.

Cooking and home management is an obligatory subject here for one grade, age 13. After that you can elect it. I think that's a good balance. That one year gives enough basic skills and experience for anyone who is even remotely motivated to learn, whereas any more than that as an obligatory subject would be wasting the unmotivated students' time.

One thing I'm excited about is that programming has been made an obligatory subject in schools here in Finland. If they manage to do that in the right way, that's going to be so useful. I wish it had been around when I went to school.
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Re: What should a well-educated person know?

Postby Marah » 2014-11-09, 19:54

Varislintu wrote:Cooking and home management is an obligatory subject here for one grade, age 13. After that you can elect it. I think that's a good balance. That one year gives enough basic skills and experience for anyone who is even remotely motivated to learn, whereas any more than that as an obligatory subject would be wasting the unmotivated students' time.

Sounds cool! What do you guys learn exactly for instance?
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Re: What should a well-educated person know?

Postby voron » 2014-11-09, 20:38

Varislintu wrote:One thing I'm excited about is that programming has been made an obligatory subject in schools here in Finland.

Has it happened recently? In Belarus it's been around for at least 20 years already (but then again, traditionally a lot of emphasis was put on maths and natural sciences in our school system).

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Re: What should a well-educated person know?

Postby Varislintu » 2014-11-09, 21:07

voron wrote:Has it happened recently? In Belarus it's been around for at least 20 years already (but then again, traditionally a lot of emphasis was put on maths and natural sciences in our school system).


Yes, it's only very recent. I don't know how long they've been planning it, but it feels like its implementation coincided with the success of Rovio (Angry Birds) and Supercell (HayDay, Clash of Clans) and other Finnish mobile gaming companies. Like maybe that was the wake-up call that this could be great for our national skill-set.

Marah wrote:Sounds cool! What do you guys learn exactly for instance?


I haven't looked into it much yet, but apparently the kids make games with the help of some kind of platform or environment or whatever it's called. I hope they do more than that, too.

EDIT: Ok, I just educated myself about it. Seems like it won't be its own subject, but a part of maths. The guidelines are:

Grades 1-2: Learn to formulate and give precise orders.
Grades 3-6: Practice with a graphical programming language in the drag and drop style.
Grades 7-9: Introduction into an actual programming language.
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Re: What should a well-educated person know?

Postby Ciarán12 » 2014-11-09, 21:57

Adults, over the age of, say, 23 or 24, should know:

1) Enough about science and logic to not be so baffled by the natural world that pretty much anything anyone tells you sounds equally plausible. For this, I think logic and the scientific method (rather than the actual findings) are particularly important - there is no way for you to understand how the science of all the new, major breakthoughs works, but you should have a passing acquaintence with the subject and, importantly, understand the kind reasoning that lead to it. I think teaching people to identify valid sources of info is important too.

2) A basic understanding of geography and history, with a greater amount of attention placed on areas closer to you. I think, for example, there should never be a country you haven't heard of, you should know (at least roughly) where every county is, and to whatever extent possible you should know the languages and cultures resident in those countries and something about their history. You should understand your own history quite well, as well as that of the neighbouring countries.

3) You should speak a language other than your mother tongue. I think it is good for people to go through the process of learning a foreign language at least once.

4) Basic critical thinking and how to lay out an argument in a logical, coherent and respectful manner. Learn to listen to other people, find fault in their arguments and if you can't, reassess whether or not your argument is valid in light of the points they have made.

5) Basic, practical skills you will use no matter what walk of life you choose; cooking, nutrition, how to exercise properly, how to keep yourself and your living space clean, basic organisational skills.

I'm not so concerned with maths, although I think basic arithmatic and very basic algebra is important. Also, regarding history, the exact dates and names of those involved is not as important as knowing what happend, why and what the result was, as well as the knock-on effects it had.

Given all of the above, however, I wouldn't consider myself an educated person :(
Now I feel bad.
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Re: What should a well-educated person know?

Postby Yasna » 2014-11-10, 5:13

linguoboy wrote: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.

Good point. But is there any better way to teach critical thinking than working through lots of logically rigorous math and science? In my experience people who have studied a good deal of math and science tend to have the best critical thinking facilities. For example "Among members of the National Academy of Sciences, only 7.0% expressed personal belief, while 72.2% expressed disbelief and another 20.8% were agnostic concerning the existence of a personal god who answers prayer."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relationship_between_religion_and_science#Studies_on_scientists.27_beliefs
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Re: What should a well-educated person know?

Postby vijayjohn » 2014-11-10, 5:30

Varislintu wrote:But how can a UK-born person not know what a garlic clove (or clove of garlic) looks like?

Is that really so surprising these days? I think I vaguely remember reading a column several years ago involving a cashier at a grocery store who didn't know the difference between a strawberry and a cantaloupe.
Car wrote:People tend to forget a great deal of what they're taught

One of my teachers claimed that we remember 10% of what we learn but 90% of what we teach.
Ciarán12 wrote:Given all of the above, however, I wouldn't consider myself an educated person :(
Now I feel bad.

I come from a culture that values education very highly but (traditionally) only when it's combined with self-deprecation, basically. Hindu mythology, for example, is chock-full of stories where one of the main characters is supposedly too proud of their own knowledge and has to be cut down to size. So, according to that view, an important part of being an educated person is being able to acknowledge your shortcomings, like you just did. :)

Anyway, I don't think I qualify as an educated person by any of the standards described here, either. Oh, I'll gladly take up any language you please, but the idea of trying to fry an egg kind of scares me. So does stir-frying. The idea of deep-frying anything really scares me! This is part of the reason why it kind of worries me when people say they're jealous of me just because I know some languages.

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Re: What should a well-educated person know?

Postby Dr. House » 2014-11-10, 8:44

It's important to learn something every day. Just yesterday I read a little about Gaddafi and his relationship to Libya and its people. I'd never known much about Libya, except that it had a green flag and Gaddafi as a ruler, before the Arab Spring events took place. Now I know a little about its history from the Ancient Greece and Phoenicia times, through the Muslim expansion and Italian military occupation up to now. Yes, but some people prefer to just knock around from place to place, doing nothing.
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Re: What should a well-educated person know?

Postby Lada » 2014-11-10, 12:41

There's nothing in the world any person should know or do. I wonder do you all really judge people according to the information they possess in their head?

People acquire wisdom mainly because of life experience and not because of the information they remember. Education is what you buy, it's like golden bread. I feel absolutely OK without increadible number of info which was listed here above. I don't need this info for everyday use, that's simple as that.

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Re: What should a well-educated person know?

Postby linguoboy » 2014-11-10, 16:55

Yasna wrote:
linguoboy wrote: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.

Good point. But is there any better way to teach critical thinking than working through lots of logically rigorous math and science?

But there's more to critical thinking than simply logical rigour. Plenty of completely false claims are logically rigorous. It's just that the axioms or assumptions they rest on are false. Moreover, a lot of the arguments people need to evaluate are in the social realm where scientific rigour isn't possible.

Critical thinking isn't possible without analytical distance. This sort of distance is a given in scientific fields. No one has any real emotional investment in whether sodium reacts exothermically with water, do they? By bringing that sort of analytical distance to other areas of existence (such as politics or art appreciation) is a learned skill and doesn't automatically transfer over.

Lada wrote:There's nothing in the world any person should know or do.

So it's not necessary to know not to walk out in front of moving vehicles or not to drink sulphuric acid?

Lada wrote:I wonder do you all really judge people according to the information they possess in their head?

I wonder, do you really not do this? Say you meet someone today who doesn't know the name of the country you both live in. Are you telling me you wouldn't form a judgment of some sort about them on account of that?
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Re: What should a well-educated person know?

Postby Dr. House » 2014-11-10, 18:11

We all judge the ignorant and stupid, but most of the times we do it discreetly. I have a friend who's not the sharpest tool in the shed, but that doesn't mean I laugh at him or something. We just discuss other stuff than with my best friend Ondra. We talk about girls, beer, karate and other martial arts and our Russian lessons. He doesn't like philosophy and thinks it's pretty stupid, so we simply don't discuss it. I love to talk to different people and I don't care whether they're not so bright or highly intelligent, because each one of them contribute to my knowledge and experience at different levels with with their valuable insights.
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Re: What should a well-educated person know?

Postby Varislintu » 2014-11-10, 18:42

vijayjohn wrote:
Varislintu wrote:But how can a UK-born person not know what a garlic clove (or clove of garlic) looks like?

Is that really so surprising these days? I think I vaguely remember reading a column several years ago involving a cashier at a grocery store who didn't know the difference between a strawberry and a cantaloupe.


(Why a clove of garlic? :hmm: Garlic usually comes in the shape of the whole onion, doesn't it?)

But yes, I find it surprising! Even if you don't cook, cultural imagery around us is pack full of basic edible items. You have to be paying zero attention not to learn to recognise them. They often even come in set pairs/associations: Banana, monkey; carrot, bunny; cheese, mouse; garlic, vampire; etc. Strawberries as an image are so ubiquitous I just cannot comprehend if someone with normal IQ couldn't tell it from cantaloupe. I mean as long as they are exposed to the same images I am.
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Re: What should a well-educated person know?

Postby linguoboy » 2014-11-10, 18:53

Varislintu wrote:(Why a clove of garlic? :hmm: Garlic usually comes in the shape of the whole onion, doesn't it?)

We call that "a head of garlic". Garlic is a mass noun in English so "a garlic" has the sense of "a type of garlic" (e.g. "Mexican Red, a nebulous name for a garlic which looks and tastes like every other...").
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Re: What should a well-educated person know?

Postby Varislintu » 2014-11-10, 19:03

linguoboy wrote:
Varislintu wrote:(Why a clove of garlic? :hmm: Garlic usually comes in the shape of the whole onion, doesn't it?)

We call that "a head of garlic". Garlic is a mass noun in English so "a garlic" has the sense of "a type of garlic" (e.g. "Mexican Red, a nebulous name for a garlic which looks and tastes like every other...").


Ah, I see. A head of garlic, gotcha.
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Re: What should a well-educated person know?

Postby vijayjohn » 2014-11-10, 22:16

I sort of agree with Lada here. For the life of me, I can't understand what the point of this thread is in the first place. If you're well-educated, shouldn't you know that it doesn't really matter what anybody else thinks you should know? And if you're not well-educated, why not just try to get an education? Why does it have to be any more complicated than that? What is the point of discussing what anyone should know? What happened to the ideas of being yourself or doing what you want to do even if other people disapprove of it? Don't you think deciding what anyone should know runs directly contrary to those ideas? Like, how can you think that people should be themselves and not worry about what other people think they should do but that they should do X, Y, and Z if they're well-educated?
Varislintu wrote:Why a clove of garlic?

I think I just thought of cloves of garlic because I've never had to use a whole head of garlic in a recipe before. :lol:
But yes, I find it surprising! Even if you don't cook, cultural imagery around us is pack full of basic edible items.

Maybe I'm just too eager to blame these things on cultural differences, but still, who is "us," and whose cultural imagery are you talking about? (This also reminds me that while I have no idea whether this was the case for this woman, children of Indian immigrants here often try to dissociate themselves from their heritage completely. For this reason, it was harder for me to get along with them than with anyone else; even though we were all children of Indian immigrants, my view of our heritage was the exact opposite of theirs).
You have to be paying zero attention not to learn to recognise them. They often even come in set pairs/associations: Banana, monkey; carrot, bunny; cheese, mouse; garlic, vampire; etc. Strawberries as an image are so ubiquitous I just cannot comprehend if someone with normal IQ couldn't tell it from cantaloupe. I mean as long as they are exposed to the same images I am.

But does this vary by generation? Could it be that younger people these days aren't exposed to those pairs or images as much as their older counterparts? (I think that's what that article I mentioned was suggesting. But again, my memory of it is really vague, so...).

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Re: What should a well-educated person know?

Postby linguoboy » 2014-11-10, 22:25

vijayjohn wrote:I sort of agree with Lada here. For the life of me, I can't understand what the point of this thread is in the first place. If you're well-educated, shouldn't you know that it doesn't really matter what anybody else thinks you should know? And if you're not well-educated, why not just try to get an education? Why does it have to be any more complicated than that?

The point of this thread is to define what we mean when we say "get an education".

And, yes, cultural literacy is part of it.
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Re: What should a well-educated person know?

Postby vijayjohn » 2014-11-10, 22:41

linguoboy wrote:The point of this thread is to define what we mean when we say "get an education".

Um...go to school? Go to a university? I mean, OK, sure, there's more to an education than just that, but...how likely are people to not consider someone educated if they do that stuff?
And, yes, cultural literacy is part of it.

That just seems unfair to me. If your parents are immigrants, then you have (at least) two cultures to deal with, not just one. How are you supposed to know which culture to be literate in? Doesn't that put you at a direct disadvantage, compared to people whose parents are not immigrants? What if you're, say, more familiar with the language associated with one culture and jokes from another?

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Re: What should a well-educated person know?

Postby linguoboy » 2014-11-10, 22:48

vijayjohn wrote:
linguoboy wrote:The point of this thread is to define what we mean when we say "get an education".

Um...go to school? Go to a university?

I have to wonder if you actually read the thread before commenting. Much of the discussion has focused on what should be taught at school.

(One of the things I think a "well-educated" person should know is what it means to "beg the question" and why not to.)

vijayjohn wrote:I mean, OK, sure, there's more to an education than just that, but...how likely are people to not consider someone educated if they do that stuff?

It's perfectly possible to attend school without getting an education. I know lots of people who have done that.

vijayjohn wrote:That just seems unfair to me. If your parents are immigrants, then you have two cultures to deal with, not just one. How are you supposed to know which culture to be literate in? Doesn't that put you at a direct disadvantage, compared to people whose parents are not immigrants? What if you're, say, more familiar with the language associated with one culture and jokes from another?

A "direct disadvantage" in what context? Do you have any idea how valuable it is to be bicultural in today's globalised economy? I would say it's even more valuable than being bilingual. After all, Google Translate exists. But I've yet to see anyone try to automate the process of cultural translation.
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Re: What should a well-educated person know?

Postby vijayjohn » 2014-11-11, 1:51

linguoboy wrote:I have to wonder if you actually read the thread before commenting.

Of course I did.
Much of the discussion has focused on what should be taught at school.

Yeah, but you can still be considered well-educated even if your educational system is flawed.
(One of the things I think a "well-educated" person should know is what it means to "beg the question" and why not to.)

How am I begging the question if there is no argument in the first place? All that happened was I asked what the point of this thread was, and you gave your response, but I still didn't understand what was so complicated about it. I can understand asking "what should be taught at school" or even "what constitutes a well-educated person," but to me, asking what someone should know sounds like something that would come dangerously close to saying "so-and-so is not educated because they don't know X," which just seems ridiculous.
It's perfectly possible to attend school without getting an education. I know lots of people who have done that.

But to attend university, too? And do you mean without getting an education at all, or without getting a good education?
A "direct disadvantage" in what context? Do you have any idea how valuable it is to be bicultural in today's globalised economy? I would say it's even more valuable than being bilingual. After all, Google Translate exists. But I've yet to see anyone try to automate the process of cultural translation.

Okay, but aren't children of immigrants forced to be bicultural, whereas others can choose whether to be bicultural or not? If so, then how is that fair?


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