Education is popularly supposed to mean getting a degree and qualifying oneself for a white-collar job. The longer the catalogue of degrees after the name of a man, the more educated he is believed to be. This is a narrow and wrong conception of education.
True education consists not merely in attending schools and colleges and passing examinations, but in the complete development of one’s personality, intellectual, moral, and physical. Education in this sense is a life-long process, and cannot be said to be completed at any stage of life.
An educated person is well-informed. While he should have thorough and precise knowledge of the subject in which he has specialized, he should be aware of the broad developments in other subjects. It is not suggested that he is a walking dictionary or encyclopedia, for as important as the possession of information or knowledge of facts is the ability to interpret them and make use of them.
He has the habit of reading newspapers, periodicals, and books of general interest, and what is more important; he has the habit of thinking and meditation. He does not parade his knowledge in and out of season, but gives evidence of it only on appropriate occasions.
An educated person, in my opinion, is not a book-worm. He knows that books are only one source of knowledge. He is interested in people, mixes with them, and observes them. He tries to live as full and varied a life as possible, acquiring wisdom and maturity from experience. He is capable of love and friendship, and respects people whose customs and opinions differ from his own.
We have already passed from the intellectual to the moral qualities of an educated man. Unfortunately, our educational system pays little attention to the moral development of youngsters. The result is that many highly educated persons, holding high offices, are found to be corrupt and dishonest. A truly educated man is honest, upright, and above board.
He is never lured by money or personal gain to deviate from the path of duty and justice. He sympathizes with the poor and the oppressed, and champions their cause. Kind-hearted and benevolent, he tries to alleviate the suffering around him.
He pays attention to his health. A person who neglects his health or ruins it by falling a prey to vicious habits cannot be called educated. An educated person is aware of the intimate connection between the mind and the body, and believes with Samuel Butler that neglect of health is a crime. In order to be physically fit he either plays games or takes some kind of exercise.
While an educated man is not a dandy strutting about in flamboyant clothes, he does not neglect his dress. His dress is usually neat, simple, and not in any way conspicuous. His manners too are pleasing, suave and refined. His friends and acquaintances feel at home in his company, because his conversation is lively and he knows the art of listening.