Concept of Education- What, Why and How aspect


Dr. V.K.Maheshwari, M.A(Sociology, Philosophy) B.Sc. M. Ed, Ph. D

Former Principal, K.L.D.A.V.(P.G) College, Roorkee, India

There are a lot of contradictions regarding the  of education. The fact responsible for this contradiction is lack of uniformity in the meaning of education.

Etymological meaning of the term EDUCATION

Educate means the art of teaching of teaching or training. The other way of explaining the term of Latin E means to ‘lead forth out of and duco means I lead, ; thus; education may be interpreted to means to ‘lead forth’. Some scholars opine that the term ‘education’ has been derived from the Latin words ‘educere’ Latin-education k=e+duco, meaning-to lead=from within+to lead out.In ancient Greece, Socrates argued that education was about drawing out what was already within the student

Etymological Meaning from Indian point of view-

the Hindi word ‘shiksha’ has been derived from the Sanskrit verb ‘shiksh’ which mean ‘to learn’. Thus, education mend both learning and teaching. In the Raghuvansh, the term ‘education’ has been used in these two senses. In India languages, the terms ‘vidya’ and jnana’ have been used as synonyms to the term ‘shiksha’. The term ‘vidya’ has been derived from the verb ‘vid’ which means ‘to’ know, to find out, to learn’, but later, this was fixed for ‘curriculum’. In the beginning, four subjects were included under viday, but later, Manu added the fifth, called Atma Vidya, and gradually, this number rose to fourteen, which included Vedas, Vedangas, Dharma, Nyaya, Mimansa etc. Thus, ‘vidya’ means both curriculum and learning.

The term ‘janja’ means the same as education in its wide sense in Indian philosophy. In Indian philosophies, the term ‘jnana’ is not used for only information or facts, though in the west, this sense is The term ‘janja’ means the same as education in its wide sense in Indian philosophy. In Indian philosophies, the term ‘jnana’ is not used for only information or facts, though in the west, this sense is quite prevalent. In the Amarkosha, the terms ‘jnana’ and ‘vijnana’ have been distinguished saying that is reated with emancipation while ‘vijnana’ is reated with crafts. In other words, jnana or knowledge is that which develops man and illuminates his path to emancipation, while whatever is learnt and known in practical life is called vijnana or science.

Besides, the term ‘education’ is also used to mean training, because the teaching of ‘education’ at professional level of preparing future teachers is taught for providing theoretical knowledge as well as practical knowledge, so that they become adept in the art of teaching. This training is imparted in real time school conditions. Though all the above meaning of education are distinct from each other, yet they all are related to human development, change or learning in essence.

However, the term ‘education’ has come to be applied in altogether different context too. Today, the term ‘education’ is also used as ‘subject’ or ‘discipline’. As a discipline, also called education or science of education, it comprises of different components of education, such as teacher, student, curriculum, method of teaching, evaluation, testing, objectives etc. for intensive study in training colleges and universities. Thus, the subject of ‘education’’ is a private curriculum which is taught at academic level in Inter, BA and MA classed and in professional class of B.Ed.

Functions of Education

Basically; education means “what education is”? Function of education means:-“what education does”

There are three main functions of education which are as follows :–

Preservation function of Education-

The main function of education is to preserve and protect the old values, customs, beliefs, traditions, etc. Education shows the path of righteous living and guides us how to preserve the old education ideas and how to organize the educational system of a country in such a way that one makes progressive development in every field. It includes the preservation, protection and propagation of national cultural.

“Education must help in preserving the vital elements of our heritage. The core of India’s cultural heritage is love of beauty and truth, spirit of tolerance, capacity to absorb earlier cultures and work out new synthesis.”

Transmission function of Education-

. Education transfers knowledge, ideologies, theories, principles and attributes from one generation to another and thus contributes greatly to the general progress of society. In the words of Ottaway, “One of the tasks of education is to handover the cultural values and the behavior pattern of society to the young potential members.”

Enrichment function of Education-

Education also helps in enriching the existing cultural heritage by making use of latest technologies in the field of education which are invented for adding novelty so that the concept become more enriched for the learner. Actually each generation had to enrich its predecessors otherwise no intellectual or social development would be possible and the present state of the society would be no different from the society of the Old Stone Age.”

Narrow and Broader Meaning of Education

The significance of the meaning of the education of differs from person to person. Establishing the meaning of education, however special and specific, must begin with consideration of it essential nature. In order to establish its essential nature and distinguish it from the various forms of education, one must first of all distinguish between spontaneous incidental education, and the planned organized and formalized education provided in schools, colleges and universities. Education becomes wider in the former sense and narrow in the latter sense.

Narrow Meaning of Education

The common sense of education is very narrow. It includes only school. The community makes it still narrower when only intellectual knowledge experiences are included in it, and all those experiences which are imparted at school other than falling under intellectual aspect, are called co-curricular activities. Thus, in common sense, education means only school instruction. In its narrow sense, education is limited to school life, but in its actual sense, it continues lifelong, from birth till death. Man begins to learn right from his birth and he keeps acquiring some learning with every experience of life. Thus, continuity is one of its characteristics.

Education in narrow sense is a planned, organized and formalized process. It is imparted at a particular place (school, college or university) and at a definite time. It is also imparted to definite persons (the students). Its curriculum too is formal. The amount of education received by the child is measured –in terms of number and grade of examination passed by him.

According to John Stuart Mill, : “ In narrow sense education means the culture, which each generation purposely gives to its successors in order to qualify, to keep up and to improve the level attained. It includes whatever we do for ourselves and whatever is done for us by others for the purpose of bringing up somewhat nearer to the perfection of the nature.” Thus, in narrow sense, education is nothing but a purpose for activity deliberately planned for the optimum development of an individual’s potentialities.

To quote T. Reymont “ In the narrow sense in which the term is used in common speech and in legal enactments education does not include self-culture and the general influences of one’s surroundings but only those special influences which are consciously and deliberately brought to bear younger by the adult person of the community, whether trough the family the church or the state.”

Broader Meaning of Education

In wide sense, education is a process of all-round development which runs lifelong. In its wider sense, educational process has education three components: teacher, student and social environment. All these three education elements are equally important.

In the wider sense, education is not limited to a classroom or school only. There is no time limit for the purpose. It is rather a ‘life-long affair’. The point of beginning of this ‘continuous education’ is conception and the point of end is death. Every platform of lie –the playground, the library, the temple, the office, the market, the sea shore, the hotel etc. educate the individual. All the event, and experience, knowledge and wisdom, an individual….acquires during infancy, childhood, adolescence, youth manhood or old age through different channels of education is education.

Thus, in the broader sense “Education is neither teaching nor instruction. Instruction is an artificial and limited activity.

Education as a Process

The term ‘education’ is applied as a process for bringing about behavioral  change in man. In this form too ,it is used in two senses: in wider sense and in narrow sense. In its wider sense, educational process has education three components: teacher, student and social environment. All these three education elements are equally important.

Generally, educational process takes place between two aspects: one who is influenced and one who influences. On its basis, John Adams has accepted education as a bipolar process. According to him, these two poles of education are student and teacher. John Dewey too accepts two components of education, he has termed them psychological and psychological and social aspects. Sometimes, social environment is accepted as the third pole of education, which makes education a tripolar process which are student, teacher and curriculum.

Thus education is the process of living through a continuous reconstruction of experience. It is the development of all those capacities in the individual which will enable him to control his environment and fulfill his capacities an individual as a result of his interaction with the environment constitutes learning. The child learns through his experience. His gains experience, when he comes in contact with different social institutions, persons, places and things. There is no end to these experience. This way, education becomes and active and dynamic process. It is much more than schooling, memorizing or learning a prescribed syllabus.

Education as a Product –

Education may also be considered as a product…. In real, sense, education is the chronological and systematic development of a child’s personality. Physiological development of a child is governed automatically, and the traits that he acquires from heredity become mature with the growth of mind and body. However, the development of a child’s inherent personality can be possible only by conscious effort. Personality is an outcome of heredity and environment in which heredity is constant because the traits obtained from parents cannot be changed, thought they influence personality all thought life, environment is variable and this environment has to be controlled in order to effect desired development of child’s personality.

Thus, education is a product of action-reaction between two important elements: Heredity and environment. Every child is born with certain facilities and capabilities right from birth which expresses his reaction to words physical and social environment. Education becomes a product only when it is used. As assimilation of the culture of any society and its transference  from one generation to another.

Perspectives of Education

Education is biologically and philosophically evolved, psychologically developed and socially based. It has various dimensions. It will be interesting to see it in different perspectives.

Education in social Perspective

In social context, the systematic socialization of young generation is inherent in education. In both its wide and narrow senses, education is a social process. Man is born with certain faculties. These facilities are developed and refined in the physical and social environment, and human behavior and thinking too undergo specific changes. The development of entire human civilization and culture occurs in the social environment itself. Educational process cannot exist in the absence of social environment.

When a child is born, he is no different from an animal biologically. Later, his social personally undergoes a change according to the social assumptions. In fact it is behavior of an animal or a man is governed as per the by innate disposition, while that of a social individual is governed as per the social assumptions. The society has assigned this responsibility of behavioral modification to schools. This behavior modification is called education.

Education in Moral perspective

The moral context comprises many aspects, such as guidance, direction, rules, codes of conduct and behaviors etc. From moral point of view, education can be called a novel synthesis of certain characteristics, attitudes, aptitude and habits in objective way. Thus education can be called the establishment of this type of thinking by which values can become meaningful only when both means and end are sacred and which does good of both individual and universe.

Education in Biological Perspective

Every living being takes birth in the universe in one or the other species, and he learns certain activities during his existence. These activities are not limited to only adjustment with the prevailing circumstances; rather they also cultivate a capability to concept of hedonism. Man’s behavior at birth is just like an animal’s. He wants to effect changes to his behavior living in the social environment. This process of modification is called education .

Nature of Education

Education is a social process. Though man is born with certain innate traits and faculties, yet his development depends on social interaction in social environment. Each society formulates educational objectives as per its assumptions. Thus, education is a total in the hands of a society or community which transforms as animal-man into a social-man in order to realize its social goals.

The means employed are commensurate to the end to be realized. Therefore, educational objectives and curriculum to the etc. undergo a change according to social needs. Thus, education assumes dynamism. In wide sense, education is a lifelong process. Man continues to learn from every life experience. Thus, continuity is one of its characteristics.

Education as Art or Science

The term ‘education’ is also used in the context of ‘discipline’ and ‘training’. Generally all subject and disciplines are divided into two classed: art and science as per their nature. From this point of view, education is both art and science.

In Hindi, the term ‘art’ means which brings bliss. All those activities which beget bliss fall under the class of art, such as music, dance, poetry, literature, drawing sculpture etc. Art influences all three domains: cognitive domain, effective domain and psycho-motor domain. It is the mind which makes feel joy or bliss. Education is also related to knowledge, emotions and activity aspects, respectively called cognitive, effective and psycho-motor domains. And a teacher also takes joy in his teaching as an artist takes joy in his creation.

On the other hand, education is also a science. The scope of science is external world and it is used in the steps of experimentation, analysis and inference etc., and as it is related with intellectual human being as against the matter, education cannot be used as a science; though some psychologists have conducted successful experiments on dogs, mice, cats, chimpanzees etc., and gave deduced inferences which are taught as fundamental principles of education. These principles provide a solid scientific basis to education despite certain limitations and exceptions.

Formal Education, Informal Education and Non-Formal Education

Formal Education,

Formal education is the hierarchically structured, chronologically graded ‘education system’, running from primary school through the university and including, in addition to general academic studies, a variety of specialized programs and institutions for full-time technical and professional training.

Formal education corresponds to a systematic, organized education model, structured and administered according to a given set of laws and norms, presenting a rather rigid curriculum as regards objectives, content and methodology. It is characterized by a contiguous education process , which necessarily involves the teacher, the students and the institution. It corresponds to the education process normally adopted by our schools and universities.

Formal education institutions are administratively, physically and curricularly organized and require from students a minimum classroom attendance. It confers degrees and diplomas pursuant to a quite strict set of regulations.

The methodology is basically expositive, scarcely relating to the desired behavioral objectives. Assessments are made on a general basis, for  administrative purposes and are infrequently used to improve the education process. The setting-up of a formal education system does not consider the students’ standards, values and attitudes that are relevant to the education system which, generally, is not tested or assessed at the level of student acceptance, as well as for efficacy and efficiency. The same methodology – poor, ineffective, scarcely creative – is adopted. It is not excessive to say that in the case of formal education,for the most part teachers pretend to teach; students pretend to learn; and, institutions pretend to be really catering to the interests of students and of the society.

Informal Education

In informal education – learning  goes on in daily life and can be received from daily experience, such as from family, friends, peer groups, the media and other influences in a person’s environment .Informal Education is a general term for education outside of a standard school setting. Informal Education is the wise, respectful and spontaneous process of cultivating learning. It works through conversation, and the exploration and enlargement of experience.

Informal education does not correspond to an organized and systematic view of education; informal education does not necessarily include the objectives and subjects usually encompassed by the traditionalcurricula. It is aimed at students as much as at the public at large and imposes no obligations whatever their nature. There generally being no control over the performed activities, informal education does not of necessity regard the providing of degrees or diplomas.

Characteristics of Informal  Learning

Here are the characteristics of informal learning:

1. Informal learning is never organized.- There are no set formulas or guidelines ,like teaching your child the alphabet, or how to brush his or her teeth. There is no prescriptive program of study for this.

2. Informal learners are often highly motivated to learn.- The environment of school, informal learners are often eager and attentive.

3. Informal learning is often spontaneous.- Learning happens anywhere, any time. The learner is inspired to learn because of an immediate desire to know how to do something or understand a topic.

4. There is no formal curriculum.- There is no program of study or prescriptive methods.

5. The “teacher” is someone who cares – and who has more experience than the learner.- In the informal learning context, those leading the learning are likely to be emotionally close to the person who is learning, such as a mother, father, grandparent or other caregiver.6. The world is your classroom.

6.It is a myth that learning happens in a school or in a classroom.- With informal learning, there is no classroom. Your home, the neighborhood park, the community and the world are the classroom.

7. Informal learning is difficult to quantify.-There are no exams and informal learning is difficult to quantify.

8. Essential to an adult’s lifelong learning.- Informal learning is a lifelong process. It does not end when a child enters school and the formal system “takes over”. On the contrary, children continue to learn at home. As we get older, we learn from our friends. As we enter the workforce, we learn from our co-workers. Into retirement, we still learn from friends and also from those younger than us. An adult learning to read and write from a volunteer literacy tutor is one example. A retired office worker learning from her grandson how to use an iPad is another example.

Non-Formal Education

Non-formal education is any organised educational activity outside the established formal system – whether operating separately or as an important feature of some broader activity – that is intended to serve identifiable learning clienteles and learning objectives.

Non-formal education  strategy does not require student attendance, decreasing the contacts between teacher and student and most activities take place outside the institution – as for instance, home reading and paperwork. Educative processes endowed with flexible curricula and methodology, capable of adapting to the needs and interests of students, for which time is not a pre-established factor but is contingent upon the student’s work pace, certainly do not correspond to those comprised by formal education, but fit into the so-called non-formal education.

Notwithstanding the above, even a preliminary analysis of the existing non-formal systems reveals the constant presence of two features:

(a) – centralization of the process on the student, as to his previously identified needs and possibilities;

(b) – the immediate usefulness of the education for the student’s personal and professional growth.

Non-formal education seems better to meet the individual needs of students. According to Ward,, a systematic analysis of the main features of non-formal education, diversely from formal schooling, shows that participants are led to non-formal programmes because these offer the expertise that they hope to acquire and the necessary assistance for a better understanding of their own selves and of their world. As non-formal education is focused on the student, it perforce presents flexible features as regards the initially established and adopted procedures, objectives and contents. It is therefore quicker to react in face of the changes that may affect the needs of students and of the community.

We shall now analyze three educative processes, namely: “correspondence learning”,“distance learning” and “open systems”, which, because of their features fall within the scope of non-formal education.

Correspondence Learning:

Correspondence learning is an individualized learning system that allows students to proceed at their own pace, according to their interests. The institutional materials are for the most part printed and are generally prepared by a teacher who has not enough didactic and technical knowledge to prepare top quality educational material. Although a number of correspondence courses currently offer other types of instructional material – audio-tapes and videotapes, kits, etc. –

Correspondence courses generally establish a bi-directional communication by mail, supported by the teacher who corrects the paperwork, offers guidance and the requested explanations. A degree may or may not be obtained and there is no pressure – the student’s motivation is the basic factor for the program’s success.

Distance Learning:

According to Holmberg “Distance study is learning supported by those teaching methods in which, because of the physical separateness of learners and teachers, the interactive, as well as the proactive phase of teaching is conducted through print, mechanical or electronic devices.” Distance learning is based on non-contiguous communication , that is, “the learner is at a distance from the teacher for much, most or even all the time during the teaching learning process”. Based on this definition, we may infer that the concept of distance learning is wider than that of correspondence learning, with which it is sometimes confused.

Open University.

Open Universities are generally based on distance study through one or more communication media . They mostly formulate the instructional materials used in their courses, for the most part employing a distance tutoring system that contracts teachers to provide the required support to the performance of supplementary activities. The assessment and graduation requirements are not uniform and in some cases, the diplomas are on a par with those issued by regular universities, whereas in others we find that certain restrictions are made with regard to given courses.

According to Oliveira, “The nature of their tasks and the modus operandi of open universities provide a mixture of academic culture and industrial activity”, requiring the cooperation of professionals from varied backgrounds to act as redactors, educational planners, professors specializing in the different fields, audio-visual experts, and so on, thus displaying a multidisciplinary character. The materials forwarded to the students, comprising printed texts, audio or videotapes, kits, etc., is usually validated prior to their utilization, so as to ensure a high degree of efficacy and efficiency.

Innate and Acquired Education

Behavior is of two types: natural or innate behavior and acquired or social behavior. Education is behavioral change. When a child takes birth, he is no different from an animal, as per the biological standpoint, because his behavior is governed by innate tendencies; however, his behavior becomes as per social assumptions gradually. An animal-man’s behavior is governed by his innate tendencies while that of the social-man as per the social assumptions or approvals. Thus, education is to modify the behavior of an animal-man into social-man. The society in which an individual takes birth, learns several behaviors and sanctifies according to that. These activates are not limited to only adjustment with the environment, but they are capable of construction favorable circumstances. This construction is based on hedonism. Thus, each society assigns the responsibility of behavioral change according to its social goal to schools, where teacher (mature personality) and students (immature personality) interact mutually, and thus teacher transforms a child into a social and mature personality.

Dimensions of Education

“Dimension” refers to the breadth range, extent, comprehensiveness and variety of learning experiences, the extent of range view, outlook, application, effectiveness, and operation. From this point of view, education is concerned with the “whole man”, the entire life of an individual comes under the preview of education.

Education is life itself.  Hence its scope is very wide. It is a wide as the whole world and as long as the history of mankind, the following subject-matter may be included under the scope of education:

1.      History of Education-

History of education also comes under the scope of education. By the help of this, we understand the gradual development of education during different periods of history. Beside this, it also helps us to find out suitable system of education according to the changing needs of the society.

2.      Problem and Issues of Education –

Some of the important problems of education, are vocationalization of education problems of population education non-formal education adult education development of a national system of education, religious and moral education, national integration, medium of instruction etc. Education cannot achieve progress unless it studies the problems and find out their solutions.

3. Sociology of education –

Education is an activity which goes on in the society. Hence it aims and methods depend on the nature of the society in which it functions. Sociology of education may be defined briefly as a study of relations between education and society. This branch of study deals with aims of education, methods of teaching, administration and supervision, curriculum, only in relation to the socio-political, economic, cultural and religious forces of the society in which they take place.

4.      Comparative Education –

In the age of globalization, Comparative education help us to modify reform, reorient and improve our own education system in the light of the system followed in other countries. It is the study of cross cultural comparison of the structure, operation, methods, aims and achievements of various educational system and practices of different countries of the world.

5.   Education Psychology –

Psychology has been considered as one of the youngest, yet one of the most influenced education in many different ways and has practically given a new turn, a psychological turn to the human mind. For a skillful teacher of the present day, knowledge of the child has been considered to be more important than the knowledge of the subject matter, Therefore, teacher at present should be equipped with those psychological skills and competencies which are badly necessary for the successful guidance of learning, adjustment and the growth of the child.

6.      Philosophy of Education –

As Dupis defines “Philosophy of education is one of the oldest, yet one of the newest disciplines.” It is one of the oldest since Plato, the philosopher of par excellence of ancient time devoted considerable attention to the nature, purposes and content of education, it is one of the newest since philosophy of education began to emerge as a separate discipline only in twentieth century. Now it is realized that philosophy and educations are related like flower and fragrance. Philosophy determines all the aspects of education-nature of education, curriculum, method of teaching, nature of text-book, nature of discipline, evaluation role of the teacher, school organization etc.

7. Techniques of Teaching-

The minds of the pupils are growing organism. Filling the minds of the pupils with ideas is not right education. To make the food of education palatable we follow different techniques of teaching. The techniques of teaching have been bided either upon the nature of the subject matter of psychology of the learning process or merely because it has been observed that certain ways of presenting the lesson is essential, to develop the interest and attention of the students. The students of education should get themselves familiarized with different techniques of teaching.

8. Educational Administration and Supervision –

Administrative functions are concerned primarily with the infrastructural facilities and the operation of the schools and supervisory functions are concerned with improving the learning situation, A student of education should know how these activities are going on in our schools.

Actually Education is a deliberate and organized activity though which the physical, intellectual, aesthetic, moral and spiritual potentialities of the child are developed, both in the intellectual, aesthetic, moral and spiritual potentialities of the child are developed, both in the individual as an individual and also as a member of society so that he may lead the fullest and richest life possible in this world and finally attain his ultimate end in the world to come.




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