This is just one of the questions I asked myself and journaled about before I began reading the book The Educated Person by D.G. Mulcahy. The other question was what type of education would produce this educated person?
First, I believe that education is a lifelong process that consists of both formal and informal experiences that lead to the individual learning something. The setting could be a school, the home, a job, a volunteer position, or an internship or cooperative learning experience. Since an education is a continuing mix of experiences; I think en educated person is a person who has made the most of each experience and lerned from it or understands how the experience falls short for what ever reason.
Second, the idea of an educated person always starts with formal school experiences from primary school through college. This focus begs a third question: What should the academic and career oriented curricula look like? The answer to this question is a traditional liberal arts curriculum that teaches reading, writing, mathematics, science, and Physical Education. In middle or high school we can add computer operations.
In high school students should add a vocational element to their curriculum weather they are planning to go directly into the work force, enter a two year college training program or go into a university. This required co-operative education program would give all students, regardless of their socioeconomic status or ability level, a chance to learn valuable and transferable workplace skills as well as having work experience to put on a resume. The internship would be after taking a class(es) in a career skill during their third and/or fourth year of high school. This training would also allow them to work through college. High school students should graduate with basic proficiency in Microsoft Office because this will help them weather they work, get follow-on training or enter the university.
Third, college should begin with a standard general curriculum the first two years with some options within the general categories of Computer & Technological Literacy, Mathematics, Science, English Composition, Literature, History, Social Sciences, and Humanities. Then their third and fourth years will be spent on their majors with internship and co-op experiences that will train them with the skills specific to field they wish to work in after graduation.
Fourth, having mentioned internships and co-operative education opportunities, I believe that in high school required career development courses should be taught at the end of the third year and the end of the sophomore year in college. These classes provide means to learn basic job hunting skills like resume/cover letter writing, preparing a portfolio, interviewing, and give them a vital link to a guidance counselor. They also allow you to explore your interests and skills through particular tests. This will assist people in choosing a major.
In my opinion, being an educated person requires several interrelated characteristics: knowledge of self, knowledge of the world around you, and knowledge of potential careers and access to resources, as well as being willing to commit to life-long learning. Every experience and person an individual encounters can be a learning experience that educates them.