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Definition essay : Education and personal development Essay

We have to learn during all of our lifetime. Since we were small, we have to learn how to stand, walk, talk,… Getting older, we learn about the world, why the leaves are green, why human can talk, why we need to communicate with others and how to make an effective conversation,… We can’t know anything if we don’t learn. But where and how we learn? The following essay can answer that question to some extents by defining two terms “education” and “personal development”.

Education in its general sense is a form of learning in which the knowledge, skills, and habits of a group of people are transferred from one generation to the next through teaching, training, or research. Education frequently takes place under the guidance of others, but may also be self-learning (Wikipedia). Dictionary.com defines education as a process of acquiring general knowledge, promoting the powers of reasoning and judgment, and of preparing individuals scholarly knowledge for mature life. Finally, Oxforddictionaries.com offers the definition of education as the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university.

These are the common interpretations of education. As can be observed, all of them contain several key words: knowledge, giving, acquiring, teaching,… Briefly, education is defined as the process of learning and acquiring information.

The word education is derived from Latin word educare which means ‘to nourish’, ‘to bring up’, and ‘to rise’. This means, educating a child means nourishing or bringing up the child according to certain ends or aims. Education is also derived from another Latin world educere. Education as educere is more acceptable as it means leading an individual out of darkness into light…

The most generally accepted forms of education are connected with years of schooling with variety of subjects, that is called formal education. Formal education refers to systems of schooling with levels respectively: preschools, primary schools, secondary schools, higher education (tertiaries, universities…). Formal education is based on curriculum, a set of courses and interaction between instructors and students.

However, in fact, not only learning at school is considered education. Beside formal education, there are also informal education and non-formal education.

Non-formal education provides knowledge, skills without the institutional environment of formal schooling. Some main forms are free education, self-learning and vocational education. Free school with the opening structure is the kind of school that is available to pupils without charge. Besides this, “free” also refer to freedom of speech. The second is self-learning. Individuals who follow self-learning are called “autodidact”. They spend a great deal of time reviewing the resources of libraries and educational websites, not attending classes. Some notable autodidacts are Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison, Leonardo da Vinci,… And, vocational education is a form of education focused on direct and practical training for a specific trade or craft like textile, mechanics,…

And the last one, informal education includes indigenous education (often in a post-colonial context) and education through recreation.

It is obvious that education is one of the most important concepts that plays a vital role in each individual’s life. Everyone should be aware that education is not all about studying and getting good marks. It is really a means to discover new things and increase our knowledge about the world. Formal studying at school is essential, but besides, self-learning is highly recommended for all people of all ages. Education is always a crucial area that should be under great consideration of every government and society.

The other concept that needs clarification is personal development. Personal development includes activities that improve awareness and identity, develop talents and potential, build human capital and facilitate employability, enhance quality of life and contribute to the realization of dreams and aspirations. When personal development takes place in the context of institutions, it refers to the methods, programs, tools, techniques, and assessment systems that support human development at the individual level in organizations (Wikipedia). In simpler words, personal development is a set of skills or qualities that everyone wants to achieve to maximize their potential and have a better future.

Personal development includes some activities like improving self-awareness, self-knowledge, building self-esteem, spiritual development, identifying or improving potential, enhancing lifestyle or the quality of life, improving social abilities, defining and executing personal development plans,… The concept covers a wider field than self-development or self-help: personal development also includes developing other people. For example, a skill in personal development that teachers should have is developing the potential of students or managers should know how to inspire employees,… Beyond improving oneself and developing others, personal development is a field of practice and research.

As a field of practice, it includes personal development methods, learning programs, assessment systems, tools and techniques. A well-known method is personal development planning (PDP). It is an action plan based on awareness, goal-setting, reflection, interests and preferences. PDP means to improve your ability to understand what and how you are learning, and to review, and take responsibility for your own learning, help you better manage the range of situations you will encounter in academia, work and life and have an intense relationship with the world of work where employers are demanding for adaption and flexibility of employees.

Education and personal development have a relation in the way they both develop a person. But education tends to be the field of acquiring knowledge about the world, while personal development is more about practicing to achieve useful skills for life. In fact, education is only one part of personal development. Therefore, beside learning from college education, students need to develop a personal development plan so that they can fill their skill gaps and become more adaptable, flexible and of course, more successful in the future.


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