Is being knowledgeable and being educated the same thing?

by Beth Knittle on January 16, 2010

I have been doing a lot of reading in the past year, or so, on education, learning, schools and teaching.  I believe I am on the verge of a paradigm shift in my thinking.  The constructivist in me tells me this is part of the normal learning process that comes about from gathering new information and analyzing it from different points of view.  You see the conflicts with your old knowledge structures and you need to rebuild them to accommodate the new information. Can I tell you my brain hurts from the process? My mind is a virtual construction site and in disarray I need to bring it some order.

Part of my struggle has been related to vocabulary.  We believe we all know the meanings of the words we use every day, but there are subtle and not so subtle difference in meaning, it can influence our understanding.  In trying to read and interpret what others say I can get hung up on this.  So last week I asked for a little help from my PLN about some of these terms.  I asked “Is being knowledgeable and being educated the same thing?”

To me knowledge is information and being knowledgeable is to know a lot of information.  Being educated is the ability to analyze, modify, and utilize information also the ability to create and contribute to the knowledge base.  I do not think it makes a difference to the individual where or how they acquired their knowledge or the ability to analyze and utilize information.  Society may place significance on how one becomes educated as evidence by the needs for degrees or certificates.  So now my thoughts turn to schools, do we produce knowledgeable graduates or educated graduates?

The following are the responses I received. Thanks so much to all who responded.

  • Yes, I think so. Many may not, as they think of “school” when they think education. I’ve recently learned this: “Education derives from the verb educe, which means ‘to draw forth from within.'” Keeping that in mind, I think that a person who is knowledgeable is also educated. The knowledge didn’t magically appear; it was developed and fostered from some source, through the process of education.
  • No.  I view the first as coming from a variety of resources and the second coming from the ‘formal’ ‘degree awarding’ institutions.
  • Not necessarily. There are plenty of autodidacts who contribute in enormous ways to the life of the universe.
  • No, being knowledgeable and being educated are not the same. Being knowledgeable has to do with facts. Education prepares you to do something with those facts.
  • For me being educated is having had the opportunity to learn.  Being knowledgeable is “owning” the learning.
  • No.  Educated means you learned it in a school setting or set out to actually learn something.  Knowledgeable means to understand something.  Doesn’t matter how.  Could just be from experience.
  • I think this depends on the field and who you ask. Knowledgeable could apply to a trade; someone who is quite adept and skilled at their trade (i.e. plumbing) could be very knowledgeable but not be considered educated by academia. Of course said tradesman could turn out to be very “educated” in the traditional academic sense, too.
  • I think that there are book smart, but street dumb people. We learn so much from just existing. It is how we process that information that counts. We as educators must take background knowledge and basic connections between self and topic to assist in this process.
  • I would say yes and no. Many times I’ve had colleagues and students who were very educated, but when it came to common sense, they were lacking knowledge in that area.
  • No – I think they are different…knowledgeable implies wisdom to me while educated is more limited to ‘schooled’
  • In my opinion, being educated simply means having been taught something. Many people are knowledgeable without finishing school. They have been taught by others who have the knowledge.  There are many places to become educated.
  • I don’t think so. Being educated to me implies receiving bits of knowledge, looking at it from all sides, looking for more information, and incorporating it.
  • No, not as the words are commonly used. Being educated seems to imply a deliberate purposeful effort by the educator or student to acquire knowledge but, as you note in your introduction above, learning (knowledge) can and is acquired informally, haphazardly, spontaneously and other ways that do not require purposeful, directed, strategic education.
  • Great question.  I think you can be knowledgeable about a lot of things but not really have it amount to anything useful.
  • I think that being educated (today) means that you have the capacity to go out and create your own knowledge about new things. Being educated also needs to incorporate the ability to collaborate and communicate effectively.  These are not things that are necessarily true if you are just “knowledgeable.”
  • I do not believe this is true.  Like you, I am learning more and more each day as I connect to people around the world.  You cannot put a price tag on this and currently this is not happening in schools to any large degree.
  • Not necessarily. I am knowledgeable about many more things than I have been educated about.  I think, for me, knowledge seems to be more practical and pragmatic while education tends toward the theoretical and the philosophical.  After almost 40 years of education and schooling myself, I do consider myself both knowledgeable and educated but maybe not in the same exact things.
  • Yes and no. While I believe education builds a strong foundation and gives you the basics, having knowledge comes from hands on experience and interacting with others to improve and grow. We can learn from others, best demonstrated practices and new ideas that you don’t always find in a classroom setting.
  • I think it depends on the way you define the word knowledgeable but I would say that no, they are not necessarily the same thing. In my opinion, you can be uneducated (in a traditional sense) and still be knowledgeable. I don’t think you need to be traditionally educated on a topic to be knowledgeable about it. For example, I have never had an education about video games, but I am knowledgeable about the topic because of my experience with it.
  • I would say that there is a difference but not much. To become knowledgeable a person does not need traditional education, but isn’t the gaining of knowledge the definition of education? There are many people in the world that I would consider knowledgeable that have not completed high school and/or college. So knowledge can be gained with traditional education.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Miriam Bogler January 18, 2010 at 1:24 pm

I believe that information in the world is proliferating exponentially and the idea that anyone can master a lot of that and be considered knowledgeable does not make much sense. On the other hand, by acquiring the skills to analyze, modify, and utilize, a person has the necessary tools to become knowledgeable in whatever he needs or is curious about.

S McCray January 19, 2010 at 10:13 pm

Your question has also made me pause in constructivist thought. I thought your question sounded easy at first. But as I read all the varied responses and different interpretations, I realize that my beliefs about education are influencing my definitions of your terms. I’m leaning toward considering “knowledgeable” as a product of insight, understanding, and transferability. “Educated”, on the order hand, implies to me something that is done to the student.

I know, as a teacher, that some things need to be explicitly taught in order for understanding to occur. So, unfortunately, too much of my time is spent educating my young students. My goal, however, should be to lead my students to their own knowledge. Ultimately, then, I should be guiding my students to knowledge – knowledge that they will be able to connect to whatever investigations come their way in the future.

Ifeoma ibeakaeze May 14, 2010 at 7:37 am

Being knowledgeable is quite different from being educated. knowledge has to do with the inborn trait or experience that one acquire through practical learning or what has happened around the person, in fact the sum total knowledge acquired through self help and experience that is what i refer to as being knowledgeable while being educated is the acquisition of the sum total theoretical aspect which is acquired in the class room.

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