Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

The Learned Word

Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

The Learned Word

Article excerpt

Education is the name of the game for most Kappan readers.

So what is education? According to Merriam-Webster's 11th Collegiate, education (as distinguished from training, schooling, or instructing) implies the development of the mind; that reference work goes on to define education as (among other things) "the field of study that deals mainly with methods of teaching and learning in schools" and "the action or process of educating or of being educated." Those senses trace back to the early 17th century; they also lead us to look a little more closely at educate.

Educate first appeared in English in the 15th century, a borrowing from Middle English. The Latin ancestors of educate meant to rear, bring up, educate, lead. One of the earliest applications of the English educate was as a transitive verb meaning "to rear" or "bring up." Modern educators might enjoy envisioning a world in which the processes of rearing and educating a child are conceptually intertwined; sadly, that sense is now obsolete. Still, it's fun to imagine that the Renaissance philosopher Erasmus was punning a bit on this theme when he asserted (in Latin, yet!) "The main hope of a nation lies in the proper education of its youth."

KATHLEEN TAYLOR hosted Word for the Wise, an internationally syndicated radio program on language, for 15 years.


The first comprehensive study of the nation's eight remaining inter-district school desegregation programs--which were expressly created to enable disadvantaged black and Latino students to cross school district boundary lines and attend affluent, predominantly white suburban public schools--has found that these programs help close black-white and Latino-white achievement gaps, improve racial attitudes, and lead to long-term mobility and further education for the students of color who participate. …

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