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What is the role and importance of education? The word education comes from the Latin verb educatus meaning "bring up (children), to train," or "bring up, rear, educate." Throughout history, the purpose of education has been to pass to younger members of a society the values and accumulated knowledge of a society and to prepare these younger members for their roles as adults.
As societies became more complex, the transmission of values and knowledge were delivered by an expert or teacher. In both the Ancient and Modern World, the ability of a society to deliver education became a measure of success.
Great thinkers have reflected on and recorded their opinions about education and its value to the individual and society. The following selected quotes are from individuals past and present, representing their thoughts on the importance of education:
- Plato: "The purpose of education is to give to the body and to the soul all the beauty and all the perfection of which they are capable."
- Herbert Spencer: "Education is preparation to live completely."
- John Milton: "A complete and generous education fits a man to perform justly, skillfully, and magnanimously all the offices, both public and private, of peace and war."
- Sully: "Education seeks, by social stimulus, guidance, and control, to develop the natural powers of the child, so as to render him able and disposed to lead a healthy, happy, and morally worthy life."
- W. T. Harris: "Education is the preparation of the individual for reciprocal union with society; the preparation of the individual so that he can help his fellow-men and in return receive and appreciate their help."
- Malcolm Forbes: "Education's purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one."
- T. S. Eliot: "It is, in fact, a part of the function of education to help us escape, not from our own time - for we are bound by that - but from the intellectual and emotional limitations of our time."
- G. K. Chesterton: "Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another."
- George Washington Carver: "Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom."
- Jules Simon: "Education is the process by which one mind forms another mind, and one heart, another heart."
- Thomas Hill: "A complete education ought to preserve the pupil's bodily health and strength, and give him command over his mental and muscular powers, increase his quickness and sharpness of perception, form in him the habit of prompt and accurate judgment, lead to delicacy and depth in every right feeling, and make him inflexible in his conscientious and steadfast devotion to all his duties."
- Robert Frost: "Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence."
- Robert M. Hutchins: "The object of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives."
- Robert M. Hutchins: "Education is not to reform students or amuse them or to make them expert technicians. It is to unsettle their minds, widen their horizons, inflame their intellects, teach them to think straight, if possible."
- Martin Luther King, Jr.: "Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction."
- Martin Luther King, Jr.: "We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education. The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate."
- Horace Mann: "Education then, beyond all other devices of human origin, is the great equalizer of the conditions of men, the balance-wheel of the social machinery."
- Anatole France: "An education isn't how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It's being able to differentiate between what you do know and what you don't."
- Victor Hugo: "He who opens a school door closes a prison."
- Alvin Toffler: "The illiterate of the future will not be the person who cannot read. It will be the person who does not know how to learn."
- Aristotle: "Education is an ornament in prosperity and a refuge in adversity."