The question of what defines a top notch educated person is not necessarily easy to answer, but it’s important to try. How do you think educators would answer this question? Would you find it surprising that they often don’t consider that question? When they do, the answers aren’t what one might expect.
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The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind … creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers, and meaning makers.
– Daniel Pink
Look at the Daniel Pink definition of the ‘educated’ person of the future shown above. One who is a creator, a pattern recognizer, and a meaning maker? The times of an educated person are certainly become more complex, aren’t they?
One of our favorite educator experts, Marion Brady, says that the main aim of schooling is to model or explain reality better. As you read the rest of our article, don’t lose sight of that.
His thoughts on the aim of schooling aren’t to teach math, science, language arts, and other school subjects better, but to expand the understanding of reality. He takes a holistic or systems approach to what it takes to be educated, and we wholeheartedly agree.
To be considered educated, we believe students should leave school with a deep understanding of themselves and how they fit into the world and have learned what some call “soft skills” – complex problem-solving, creativity, entrepreneurship, and they should have the ability to manage themselves.
Most of all we believe they most have the ability to be lifelong learners … have an ability to know how to learn. Here are some additional qualities we believe an educated person should have:
Educated … always curious
We find that curiosity is stimulated by stretching our boundaries into new and different realms. It is also stimulated by practicing the creation of good questions and by being part of diverse groups where other parties can give useful feedback.
Today knowledge is growing so fast that a higher education can no longer provide all, or even close to all, information needed in a typical professional lifetime. An educated person must devote considerable time and energy to hone the skills for continuous learning. The most important characteristic of an educated person, we believe.
Definition of educated person … self-confident
Self-confidence tends to emerge from growing experience in widening groups, from successes in assigned tasks, from taking meaningful initiative, and from high expectations and consistent encouragement from those we respect the most.
Have a morning ritual
You wake up most mornings, and the world is already screaming at you. Emails are coming in asking for everything under the sun, the kids are yelling, and there’s stuff you didn’t get done yesterday that’s still plaguing your mind. And you’re still in your jammies.
So you start the day reacting. You’re not following a plan and getting your goals accomplished; you’re desperately responding to all the things the world is throwing at you. But that’s not how you get achievement in life.
The vast majority of the most educated people have a morning ritual that involved some mindfulness. Getting your head straight and your priorities in line so you could face the day doing what matters to you.
Educated … open to others
Openness to others emerges in those with a sense of self-confidence, those who live in a widening circle of people from different backgrounds and persuasions. It should be a by-product of one’s inquiring climate of the surrounding environment.
Sense of direction
An educated person must have a true sense of direction that includes the self-discipline, personal values, and the conviction needed to pursue it. All of us must bear some responsibility for setting the tone here. Like it or not, we are all role models for a sense of direction, both micro and macro.
Give yourself an overnight task
Reid Hoffman is the billionaire founder of LinkedIn and one of the co-founders of PayPal. When he has a tough problem to crack, he doesn’t think straining your brain is the only way to go.
He writes the problem down before he goes to bed, lets his subconscious take a stab at it and writes about it some more the next morning. Often, this simple process helps him get the answer he needs. This allows his subconscious to digest and ruminate on that, and journal first thing in the morning to try to elucidate some non-obvious solution.
Oh, and another successful guy was a big believer in this, too. His name was Thomas Edison. He once said: “Never go to sleep without a request to your subconscious.”
Talk with anyone
An educated person knows how to talk: they can give a speech, they can make people laugh, they can ask thoughtful questions, and they can hold a conversation with anyone they meet, whether that person is a high school dropout or a Nobel laureate. Moreover, an educated person participates in such conversation not because they like to talk about themselves but because they’re genuinely interested in the other person.
One of the most important things a friend of mine once told me was that in having a conversation, his job was “to figure out what’s so neat about what the other person does.” It would be hard to imagine a more succinct description of this key quality of an educated person.
Committed to collaboration
We believe that the reality of most problems is that they can’t be understood in isolation of one subject or field of endeavor. This is the holistic view of Marion Brady. Most problems are a complex set of component problems that make up the system.
To understand the reality of these complex systems and problems requires many disciplines working in concert. This requires a commitment to collaboration and ability to collaborate. This is what we believe is the second most significant characteristic of an educated person.
Top notch educated person … intellectual passion
A person’s intellectual passion must include an awareness of its substance, its modes of thought and relationship to all of these characteristics. The marks of this passion are not the mere passion of knowledge but its comprehension and its significance, not its value.
Communication and expression
The ability to communicate effectively has never been more critical than today. It is estimated that one out of five American adults is functionally illiterate, with reading skills below 8th-grade level. Many employers report a decline in the ability of their employees themselves orally or in written word. Clearly, a fundamental characteristic required for most, if not all, of these characteristics of an educated person.
Delights in variety
The aim of an educated person is to seek the diverse, imaginative encounter and the reflective experiences that will enrich every aspect of one’s life.
The bottom line
Do you have additional thoughts on what makes an educated person? Or a lesson about making your learning better you can share with this community? Have any questions or comments to add in the section below?
It’s up to you to keep improving your ability to learning to learn. Lessons are all around you. In many situations, your competitor may be providing the ideas and or inspiration. But the key is in knowing that it is within you already.
It’s up to you to keep improving your continuous learning from all around in your environment.
All you get is what you bring to the fight. And that fight gets better every day you learn and apply new lessons.
When things go wrong, what’s most important is your next step.
Try. Learn. Improve. Repeat.
Are you devoting enough energy continually improving your continuous learning?
Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he blogs on topics that relate to improving the performance of your business. Find them on G+, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Digital Spark Marketing will stretch your thinking and your ability to adapt to change. We also provide some fun and inspiration along the way. Call us for a free quote today. You will be amazed how reasonable we will be.
More reading on continuous learning from Digital Spark Marketing’s Library:
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Creative Collaboration is the Solution for the Toughest Business Problems
Ideas on Learning Reform and Its Instructional Implications