Part Thought for the Day, part Wordy Weekly. Today's thought is inspired by the announcement about the government's investment in the roll out of Latin in forty state schools along with the reactions I have read on both sides. What struck me was that, political spectacles and lenses aside that were clearly shaping opinions, people were also speaking from very different views about education and what it should be. I thought, therefore, that I would look a the word EDUCATION itself. Can its Latin origins illuminate our understanding or opinion about education and what it should be?
The word comes from the Latin verb:
EDUCO, EDUCERE, EDUXI, EDUCTUS
EDUCATIO is the cognate noun. The verb means 'to lead out/forth' and 'leading out a child' means 'to rear' the child. This generally refers to physical nurturing and support. There is also the verb:
EDUCO, EDUCARE, EDUCAVI, EDUCATUS
The slight difference is that the second verb generally refers to psychological and mental rearing and nurture. However, as Lewis and Short notes, 'the distinction is not always observed.'
For me, when we look at both verbs, these encapsulate two aspects which must both be covered in education: the protection of children, ensuring their physical safety and that their needs are met. It is undeniable. A rather frivolous anecdote, but I do remember once jokingly saying 'lunch' in response to being asked what my favourite subject was. But serious, point. I was always grateful for the generally very good lunch my school served up after the morning's lessons and for how it fortified me for the afternoon. This side also includes teaching children how to care for this side themselves, whether this be cooking, planning, for example budgeting.
What about the psychological and mental side? I remember the debate we had about the purpose and focus of education, when completing my PGCE course at Buckingham. Was education for the good of the group, the individual? I argued passionately for the primary focus being the well-being, physical and psychological of the individual. All other concerns and benefits, in my opinion, flowed from that. This is perhaps the most complicated side to education. It ranges from making pupils feel valued and how to value and respect others, to feeling fulfilled and that they can reach and have reached their potential. They must be allowed, therefore, at school to experience and try a variety of different subjects. Even those they do not carry further, can enrich them.
You notice I say at school. I do think it is a danger to assume that education only happens in school. If course, it is a key place. But as Lockdown has proven, it also happens at home and importantly so. The saying is 'charity begins at home', perhaps education does, too.