There's an increasing amount of confusion these days about what education is and isn't. It's hard to separate the fact from "fake news." But there's a couple of "facts" that can be relied on, even in these changing times:

First, there's a big difference from the business of education (involved in the selling of products) and the provision of education (involved in the service of educating learners). The former deals in money; the latter in truth. These days, educational institutions are sorely challenged, often beyond their limits, to balance these two. In the end, however, it is absolutely important to remember that the business of education depends on the service of education. Without the latter, the former can't exist for long. The business of education with all its "products," whether its proponents like it or not, is and should always remain secondary to the service of education. Another way of saying this is that without a foundation of truth, business can't long exist without turning bad. 

Second, it's simply not true that education is all about getting a diploma or making more money. Sorry. I can be said that vocational education, or better, training, might be about the latter, and both vocational and higher (college/university) education may result in a certificate or diploma, all one gets for roughly $250,000 and four years of one's life is a skill called "critical thinking." Sadly, not everyone gets it. But it's so important to higher education, we call it "undergraduate" (bachelor's) education, in preparation for "graduate" (masters or doctoral) education. And in a democracy like the USA, where people vote and the majority decide, critical thinking (critical listening/reading and speaking/writing) are all that stand between a governing body steeped in "fake news" and one built on truth. 

Third, it's simply not true that we don't really understand education -- see my book, UNLOCK THE GENIUS WITHIN (Rowman & Littlefield Education 2005). In fact, education is about training and conveying data, information, knowledge and wisdom. Data are typically alphanumeric, like the number 7 or the letter n. Information is qualified data which, in the qualification, become meaningful, like 7 days in a week or the letter n standing for noon. Knowledge is information that one can apply in different situations. Wisdom is all about knowing when to do so, so as not to hurt others. Try it out and see if my definitions work: a knowledgeable mathematician, a wise doctor. 

If this intrigues you, think for a moment about how we learn and the consequences. For instance, when we learn things traumatically (stressfully, bluntly, directly often through some form of "teaching") there are many consequences, including the inability to change information into knowledge and wisdom to name only one. When we learn things non-traumatically, primarily through individual curiosity and discovery (often called effective "learning"), what is learned is primarily knowledge and wisdom, with the information changing in meaning over our lives as we gain in experience. Which do you value? 

I hope this whets your appetite for more data, information, knowledge and wisdom through the service of education rather than its business. 

#education #business #givingeducationthebusiness #critical thinking #highereducation