Education is learning young people go through to equip them on life’s journey. It is not just about developing a person’s academic intelligence but also their emotional, social and spiritual intelligences. In accepting this proposition of a holistic education, the home, parents, extended family and community become responsible for a child’s education. Schools are a significant part of that process, especially in regard to formal learning.
Plato, the Greek philosopher and educationalist, placed music, art and gymnastics at the centre of his curriculum because he believed the subjects were not an end to themselves but a means to develop intellectual growth and emotional balance in a child.
In contemporary society, education is thought to be the province of schools and somewhat narrowly focused on academic outcomes. This view is popularized by the notion that to be a success in society you must be a lawyer or doctor. It is often tied up in what a person does and ignores who a person is and the values they hold.
One of the most sought-after girls’ colleges in India offers their students an education beyond the realms of academic success. The school caters for students from all walks of life, using tuition fees paid by half the student population to fund costs for the rest of the students who come from poorer areas. The girls’ school experience includes assisting others in the community, whether it is working with food patrols at train stations or in village schools as teacher assistants one day per term. When one of the students was asked why her parents had sent her to the school given all of the community work she had to do in addition to her academic studies and the high cost of fees. Her reply was simple: “My parents want me to get an education, not just a qualification.”
As WB Yeates put it: “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”