PostHeaderIcon Once Again, Wrapped Around The Axle Of Terminology

Once again, I find myself trying to address a situation I have spoken to in past articles. This time is is the problem inherent in trying to have a discussion / argument / exchange on a subject when we have not first agreed to the meaning of the term(s) central to the discussion.

For instance, as I write this, there is an exchange going forth in another thread concerning education. And, it spews forth lacking any attempt to agree on the simple meaning of the word education (and, there are many other examples I might have chosen). We merely assume that our own meaning of a word or term is generally accepted when often it is anything but.

Sticking with the word education for this discussion, let me start by asking what the word means, offering my own definition in the process – a definition that is by no means established as the correct one simply because it comes from me:

Does education mean preparing someone for a task, job or profession? No. To me this is training.

Does education mean pounding certain notions and attitudes into a still-plastic young brain, probably by rote? No. To me this is indoctrination.

Does education mean teaching a person the basic skills of reading, writing, arithmetic and the elementary sciences? Yes but only partly. I would call this basic education.

Does education mean teaching a person the fundamentals of critical reasoning so that they are prepared to live as free individuals? Yes – beyond doubt.

Indeed, a complete system of education must begin with a foundation of basic education, proceed into true education and should include some training in the basic skills needed by all modern humans. It should never include indoctrination for such is the antithesis of critical thinking.

The educational system currently in use was originally structured just as I have suggested with an elementary phase intended to supply basic education, a secondary phase intended to supply educationand some essential training and a post-graduate phase intended to provide the training required by most of the professions.

And, the system still partly functions this way except that indoctrination steadily supplants true education. Thankfully, some students enter the system with sufficient common sense to resist the indoctrination to a great extent and emerge more-or-less educated despite it. However, this seems to become ever more difficult as the indoctrination becomes ever more pervasive.

So, now others in exchanges of ideas concerning education can know what I mean when I use the term/word. How can I know the other participants mean if you do not tell me??

I well remember past exchanges that got somewhat heated until enough of the participants realized that they were in violent agreement. I am sure there were others where we most amiably agreed – on the surface – when, truth be known, our different understanding of the terms of the exchange were such that we were actually in total disagreement.

This holds true for quite a number of the things we discuss – not simply education. To that end, may I suggest that whenever any of us suspects that differing definitions might be in play, that we immediately respond with “what exactly do you mean by ______ ?

Troy L Robinson

4 Responses to “Once Again, Wrapped Around The Axle Of Terminology”

  • Troy says:

    Having said all of the above, and returning to the specific topic of education, if my definitions are even close to correct, might it not be likely that not every person in this Republic is capable of being completely educated? And further, that acknowledging such is not a racial or ethnic observation but simply a human one?

    Carrying the notion even further, may it not be more fair, for those not suited for complete education, to provide them options more suited to their capabilities (for instance, less emphasis on education and more on job training)?

    To pretend that every potential student is equally capable leads to a one-size-fits-all approach that can one of two outcomes:

    1. The “system” will discharge a certain number of its clients labeled “failures” and lacking the training needed to be productive members of society –OR–

    2. The “system” will be “dumbed down” until even the least capable can meet all its criteria and send out hordes of “successes” who can’t fill out their own welfare applications, leaving the ambitious to educate themselves.


  • Greg says:

    Troy, I absolutely agree: Before you get red-faced or get frustrated and give up… always, always, always, always, ALWAYS seek clarification. Were you referring to the socialized education thread? If so, once you posted the test in the 1800s, I understood exactly what you were driving at.

    • Troy says:

      I was referring to the Socialized Education thread. BTW, I think our education system is one of the things in our Republic that SHOULD be socialized. However, the nature of the resulting beast should be decided at the local level and by the stakeholders, NOT at the federal level and by the NEA.

      Homeschooling is fine for those who have the skill and the resources (including time) to do it effectively but, alas, that describes very few of us.

      Most of all, we need to consider other approaches rather than the one-size-fits-all indoctrination-oriented mess we have today. Most of all, our schools need better students. By that, I do not mean brighter — instead I mean students who are there to be STUDENTS — not to disrupt, not to be babysat, not because school is a handy place to peddle filth and trash or to seek victims.

      Obviously, fixing this would mean educating people to be parents before they start popping the little devils out. Just as obviously (to me), the schools should not be required to put up with anyone who is not there to learn. Expel them, send them to a reform school, whatever, just don’t leave them there as a danger and a disruption to others.

      If it turns out that in some places (inner city ghettos?) this means more minorities get the axe, then boo hoo. I contend that minority bullies are most dangerous other minority students who are actually trying to get an education.

      Most of all, we should restore the once valuable word “discrimination”. Discrimination is nothing more than one basis for good decision making. For instance, discriminating between a mushroom and a toadstool can save your life. What we don’t need is bigotry – racial, ethnic, religious, gender, sexual orientation, etc.

      But discriminating — say between the a student and a troublemaker — is not evil, is not bigotry, is nothing more than common sense.

      Yet, because of past acts of bigotry, we now attempt to disallow discrimination between people, their actions and their intent, for any reason, sensible or not.

      My summation is that the combination of federal control, progressive indoctrination, the NEA, political correctness and an over-emphasis on racism have paralyzed our education system such that it simply cannot improve itself. Discarding it and starting anew seems to me the only logical answer. Yet, you can bet our “leaders” will forever conclude that just a bit more control and a whole lot more dollars wasted is the only answer!


  • Daedalus says:

    The Peabody sisters were the big drivers for public education in Massachusets. Their main goal was indoctrination of the immigrant children in American values.
    On the meaning of “education”: educt meaning to draw or bring out, to develop the natural talents and abilities of the individual.

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