Education can be defined in many ways. It has the following context: personal, social, psychological, economic, philosophical, political and educational. From the view point of educationists, education is a lifelong process: from birth to death. Every activity that leads to betterment of an individual or a society is part of education. Education is a broader concept that includes the concepts like knowledge, learning, training, instruction, teaching etc.
Reading can be said to be the most important means of education because the material the reader accesses can perhaps be the authentic source. Researchers in the field of education and learning have explored the cause and effect of reading and academic achievements. In other words, a student who is a good reader is more likely to do well in school and pass exams than a weak reader/student.
Good readers can understand the words, sentences and the grammatical structure of ‘writing’. They can understand ideas, elicit meaning in an appropriate manner. They may guess most of the words, their meanings, but they often can’t apply in real life situations as they don’t know the ways as they have not seen people doing such actions.
Educational researchers have also found a strong correlation between reading and vocabulary knowledge. In other words, students who have a large vocabulary are usually good readers. On the other hand, those who are good readers they have good vocabulary. It should be kept in mind that ‘reading’ can lead to literacy, but it does not assure ‘education’ because education is not only theoretical awareness rather it is all round development of individual’s personality.
Though reading is one of the means of getting knowledge, ‘doing’ is more effective according to most pragmatist-realist educational thinkers. John Dewey (Wikipedia.org) is one of them.
According to John Dewey, ‘education should not be the teaching of mere fact, but that the skills and knowledge which students learned be integrated fully into their lives as persons, citizens and human beings. This idea became the sole basis of Dewey’s educational philosophy- learning by doing. The idea generated from Dewey’s philosophy of ‘experience’ (1938).
There are many examples of education by means of watching, listening, teaching and doing. In the past, reading was perhaps the only good source of education. But, in the 21st century, watching, observing and doing are more important that mere reading. Children who watch videos are perhaps better speakers than those who merely read. Similarly, those who travel from Asia to the UK or USA can experience the English culture and language than those who read only through literary forms such as novels, stories, plays, poetry etc.
In addition, ‘the relevance of environment’ is significant enough for education. In this regard, ‘home’ as an agency of education can never be ignored especially at the initial stage. The child doesn’t even go to school. He doesn’t write or read, yet can acquire knowledge as he is very much in the process of education.
‘Home’ is the most important informal agency of education. It is an agency which is responsible for imparting early education and lying down the basis of farther education. In the words of Ballard (cited in Neerja, 2003), "Family is the original social institution, from which all other institutions have developed". It is an institution to which every one of us is born. There is no parallel or substitute of the home as an agency of education.
Thus, ‘family’ is perhaps the most effective agency of education as it lays the very basis of all the aspects of human personality: social, moral, economic, aesthetic, religious-spiritual activities. It is interesting to note that the child doesn’t learn all these by ‘reading’ but by seeing listening, observing and finally doing.
Dewey, J. ( l938) Experience and Education, New York: Macmillan Co. pp. 12-13.
Neerja, K.P.(2003) Textbook of Nursing Education, New Delhi: Jaypee Brothers, p.355