In the coalition agreement of the supposedly forthcoming federal government, “education” characters appear 136 times (more than just about everything except “climate” and “work”). In the Federal Republic of Germany – at least since George Becht’s warning of an “educational catastrophe” in 1964 – we are accustomed to politics and their constantly revolving media debates about education. Reason enough to ask the typical philosophical question: What is education actually?
You wouldn’t be surprised to learn that education is a philosophical concept – at least in the usual way it’s distinguished from education and upbringing. It is also clear that this demarcation is common: one can be well educated, i.e. friendly, courteous, considerate of empathy, etc. due to external influences in childhood and adolescence, without having a spark of education. In the same way, one can be well trained without education, for example mastering complex manual techniques or the customs of a demanding office job.
Then what is education? Anyone who talks about it in Germany usually refers to an understanding of it that existed at the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It has its roots through the Enlightenment in Renaissance humanism, but it received its final polish from writers of the Classical and Romantic periods as well as philosophers whom we now call representatives of German idealism.
The basis is, in a rough sense, that a person is not yet finished when he can run, talk, tie his shoes, read, write, and cook pasta with tomato sauce. What characterizes him as a person at heart – his ability to perceive, feel, think, make free decisions, enjoy life, act responsibly among others, express himself independently, that is, his humanity and uniqueness – must develop and be cared for like a factory.
“Alcohol buff. Troublemaker. Introvert. Student. Social media lover. Web ninja. Bacon fan. Reader.”