Education is a broad term, used in a variety of contexts. To many, education simply refers to academics taught within a classroom setting. To others, it may mean gaining specific factual knowledge. In a general sense I believe that education could accurately be used to describe any level of learning such as reading an instructional manual, earning a college degree, or acquiring new skills like management and parenting. Life is full of learning experiences, and I think one can argue that many educational opportunities present themselves to us.
With that being said, there is quite a difference in someone having had an educational experience and being considered educated. A simple trip to the grocery store might turn out to be an educational experience if you took the time to read some labels and plan out meals, but it would be a hard argument to say that everyone that has been to a market is educated. I do not think it fair to say that academics alone define an educated person. It is possible to earn a college degree and still not qualify as educated. Education is more than obtaining and/or retaining knowledge and passing examinations.
A person who is truly educated knows how to learn and not what to learn. Because he is not fixed on a finite amount of material that must be attained, he is constantly learning. Ironically, an educated person feels the innate need for more knowledge. Regularly inquiring and solving for the answer causes a person’s schemas to grow and continuously make new connections. The end result of all of this, I believe, is an adept problem solver and critical thinker—someone who knows how to think rather than what to think. At the end of the day, being able to integrate knowledge and apply it in order to find solutions is what truly identifies an educated person.