The Heart of Learning

The Heart

of Learning

CHAPTER 14: WHAT MAKES AN EDUCATED PERSON?

The Heart of Learning aims to inspire change, and communicate SUSS’s character and passion through its:
-Sense of social mission and service to society;
-Practice educational orientation that gives direct application to the learning acquired and impact in the respective professions; and
-Focus on the development of key lifelong learning skills in its learners.

The Singapore University of Social Sciences has welcomed its inaugural batch of fulltime graduates this October!

But as is commonly agreed, obtaining a degree certificate might not equate to being educated. What does it take, then, to be an educated person?

Dr. Lim Chee Han and Dr. Jonathan Leong Yong Hui answered this question in their essay ‘What Makes an Educated Person’, which could be found in the anthology ‘The Heart of Learning’. This book was produced in 2017 by the university in celebration of its autonomous university status.

Here, we have picked 5 big ideas from what the two authors have written about what would make someone truly educated.

  • 1. Looking Back For The Way Forward

    With the rise of industrialisation and capitalism in the 18th century, the debate on what makes an educated person emerged. Should a student be groomed to be an effective worker or the well-rounded intellectual?

    Perhaps the problems we are trying to deal with are not unlike the struggles of our predecessors. Therefore, there is great wisdom to look into history to learn from its collective experiences.

  • 2. Education Was Communal

    The education system of pre-modern humans, like the hunter-gatherers, consists of a loosely-structured apprenticeship system that got the young to acquire survival skills by engaging in the same hunting, religious or other communal activities with the adults.

  • 3. Follow The Masters

    The apprenticeship system continued through the advent of the agricultural societies, which emerged the professionalisation of crafts and specialisation of work. With the resultant rise of the master craftsmen, the apprenticeship-based education system became formalized.

  • 4. Education Is Now Too Abstract

    The contemporary educational system is a response towards globalization, in which the immersive and practical learning experience has given way to abstract, curricula-led mental training that is independent from cooperative practice. Teachers are expected to download abstract content into the brains of the student; knowledge is now largely cerebral, with the pursuit of it individualistic.

  • 5. Do And Learn Among Others

    An educated person lives in “ways of being”. It is to learn by immersing in a professional community where knowledge is practised and work supervised by other practitioners. Hence, the point of education is not to be an economic instrument but to integrate into the social and cultural life of one’s community.

Schooling should not define the education of SUSS’s graduates, nor should our graduates let it be so. Beyond their article, Dr. Leong and Dr. Lim would like to offer more gems to our new graduates, who are entering into another phase of a long journey.

“You can’t separate skills from knowledge,” Dr. Lim pointed out. “You should look at socialization and enculturation process as a process of enskillment.”

Dr. Leong agreed, “Education is a culture. You have to learn everything within the life of the person who is in that trade.”

That is to say, being around different people could offer opportunities to pick up different skills and traits. Perhaps one might have been discouraged from pursuing an interest when placed within the narrower prescription of a fixed curriculum. But truly, there is no limit to the possibilities of learning.

So, to our new graduates: may your schooling not interfere with your education!

Interviewed by Lim Qiu Ping

May the message resonate with the students and alumni of SUSS that education begins with and has the power to touch the heart.

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