Meaning, Nature and Scope of Education

Education is a fundamental and multifaceted process that involves the acquisition and development of knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes. It is a lifelong journey that enables individuals to learn and grow, leading to personal enrichment, social progress, and the advancement of societies. Understanding the meaning, nature, and scope of education helps us grasp its importance and potential impact on individuals and communities.

Meaning of Education

The word ‘Education’ is like a diamond which appears to be of a different colour when seen from different angles. It is as basic to civilization, to social survival, as reproduction and nutrition are essential to biological evolution. The concept of education is dynamic. It has passed through many ages and stages in the process of evolution and at every stage it has had a different meaning according to the then existing social conditions. The concept of education is still in the process of evolution and this process will never come to an end. Emerging time will always demand a revision of the prevailing educational ideals.

Etymological Meaning of Education

Great educators in the past explained the term “Education” as the art of “Leading out”. This explanation was provided by the derivation of term “EducationE” means “out of” and “duco” means “to lead”.

In Latin dictionary we find the word “educare” which means “to lead out”. It is a growth from within. This explanation is exactly a carbon copy of the previous one. There is yet another view according to which the term education comes from the Latin word “educere” meaning “to educate” “to bring up” or “to rise”. Probably from this explanation the term “education” is directly derived. It is again believed, that the term education is derived from the Latin word “educatum” which means the art of teaching or training. Thus, we find that according to Latin words, ‘educere’ and ‘educatum’ are external in nature. It is imposed on the child from outside.

But according to “educare” education is making potential, actual. Educators these days, use education in this sense. We have seen from our explanation that it is impossible to draw out unless something is put before hand. Thus education is both acquisition of knowledge or art of teaching and the development of skills, attitudes, habits etc. The child should be trained through experiences of his life, so that the best in his life can be achieved.

According to the ancient Indian educators, the term “Shiksha” (education) is derived from the Sanskrit verbal root “Shas” which means “to discipline” “to teach” “to instruct” or to control. The term “vidya” (education) is also derived from the Sanskrit verbal root “bid” which means “to know”. Thus the word “vidya” really means “knowledge”. In India, acquisition of knowledge and discipline of the mind was emphasised.

From the above description we can summarize the meaning of Education as follows:

  • Educare: This means to lead out. It is a growth from within.
  • Educere: This means “to bring up” or “to rise”.
  • Educatum: This means the art of teaching or training.
  • Siksha: It is derived from the Sanskrit verbal root “shas” which means “to discipline”, “to teach”, “to instruct” or “to control”.
  • Vidya: The Vidya also derived from the Sanskrit verbal root ‘vid’, which means “to know”. Thus, the word “Vidya” really means knowledge.

Indian Concept of Education

In India the concept of education is and always has been different from the western concept of education. Such difference is due to the differences in social values, prevailing norms of the society and the concept of personality. Let us now discuss how the Hindu personalities in education and Hindu scriptures have defined the term education.

  • Rigveda: “Education is something which makes man self-reliant and self-less”.
  • Upanishad: “Education is for liberation”.
  • Bhagavdgita: “Nothing is more purifying on earth than knowledge
  • Shankaracharya: “Education is the realization of self”.
  • Kautilya: “Education is the training for the country and love for the nation”..
  • Panini: “Human education means the training one gets from nature”.
  • Swami Dayananda: “Blessed are the men and women whose minds are centered on the acquisition of knowledge, who possess sweet and amiable tempers, who cultivate truthfulness and other similar virtues, and who are engaged in altruistic work as prescribed by the vedas.
  • Tagore: “The widest road leading to the solution of all our problems is education.
  • Gandhi: “By education, I mean an all round drawing out of the best in the child and man-body, mind and spirit.
  • Sri Aurobindo: Education is that “which will offer the tools whereby one can live for the divine, for the country, for oneself and for others and this must be the ideal in every school which calls itself national.”
  • Vivekananda: “Education means the manifestation of the divine perfection, already existing in man.”
  • Gopabandhu: “By education I do not mean the teaching in school. Education is what was imparted in the ancient Indian institutions and the centres of religion throughout the province.”

Western Concept of Education

Many western philosophers have attempted to define the concept of education in the following way:

  • Socrates: “Education means the bringing out of the ideas of universal validity which are latent in the mind of every man.”
  • Plato: “Education is the capacity to feel pleasure and pain at the right moment. It develops in the body and in the soul of the student all the beauty and all the perfection which he is capable of.”
  • Aristotle: “Education is the creation of a sound mind in a sound body. It develops man’s faculty, especially his mind so that he may be able to enjoy the contemplation of supreme truth, goodness and beauty of which perfect happiness essentially consists.”
  • Dewey: “Education is the development of all those capacities in the individual which will enable him to control his environment and fulfill his responsibilities.”
  • Rousseau: “Education of man commences at his birth before he can speak, before he can understand he is already instructed. Experience is the fore-runner of precept.”
  • Pestalozzi: “Education is natural, harmonious and progressive development of man’s innate powers.”
  • Adams: “Education make” people easy to lead, but difficult to drive; easy to govern, but impossible to enslave.
  • Froebel: “Education is enfolded of what is already enfolded in the germ.”
  • Spencer: “Education is complete living.”
  • Milton: “I call, therefore, complete and general education that which fits a man to perform just by; skillful by and magnanimously all the offices, both private and public, of peace and war.”
  • Robert: “It (education) is the constant instruction among people and the objective world.”
  • Yeats: “Education is not filling a bucket, but lighting a fire.”
  • Mann: “Education must bring the practice as nearly as possible to the theory.”

From a philosophical point of view not all learning can be defined as education. Contemporary educationists identified three characteristics that distinguish true education from such things as rote learning, purely mechanical training, indoctrination or brain washing. True education, they say:

  • deals with knowledge that is recognisably worthwhile and capable of achieving a voluntary and committed response from the learner.
  • leads to a quality of understanding that gives rise to new mental perspectives in the learner.
  • uses methods that encourage the exercise of judgment by the learner and the use of his critical faculties.

Narrow and Broader Meaning of Education

Narrow Meaning of Education

Education in the narrow sense is a planned, organised and formalized process. It is imparted at a particular place (school, college or university) and at a definite time. It is also imparted by definite persons (the teachers) to definite persons (the students). Its curriculum too is formal. The amount of education received by the child is measured in terms of number and grade of examinations passed by them. The teacher makes deliberate efforts to inculcate certain values, attitudes or habits in the children, which are considered to be most essential and useful.

The educator in the narrow sense aims at producing the literate man or the businessman, professional man, bureaucrat, farmer, mechanic, politician or a religious man or to produce a thinking or intellectual man. Thus man is deliberately taught to think’ as the educator thinks. It is a specific influence brought to bear upon the child with a definite purpose, in a pre-planned suitable and methodical manner, by the parents, teachers and other members of the community whom we call the educators.

  • To quote Raymont, “In the narrow sense in which the term is used in common speech and in legal enactments, education does not include self-culture and the general influences of one’s surroundings but only those special influences which are consciously and designedly brought to bear upon the youngster by the adult persons of the community, whether through the family, the church or the state.”
  • According to Mill, “In narrow sense education means the culture, which each generation purposely gives to its successors in order to qualify, to keep up and to improve the level attained. It includes whatever we do for ourselves and somewhat is done for us by others for the purpose of bringing up somewhat nearer to the perfection of our nature.”

Thus in a narrow sense, Education is nothing but purposeful activity deliberately planned for the optimum development of an individual’s potentialities.

Broader Meaning of Education

In the wider sense, education is not limited to a classroom of school only. There is no time limit for the purpose. It is rather a ‘life-long affair’. The point of beginning of this ‘continuous education’ is ‘conception’ and the point of end is death. Every platform of life-the playground, the library, the temple, the office, the market, the sea shore, the hotel etc. educates the individual. All the events, and experiences, knowledge and wisdom an individual acquires during infancy, childhood, adolescence, youth, manhood or old age through different channels of education (incidental, formal and non-formal) is education.

In this broad sense life is education and education is life. In the process of living, an individual is both a teacher and a taught. He receives from others and he gives unto himself from his experience. Education in wider sense includes all our experiences. Whatever we do, think or say educates us.

Education is neither teaching nor instruction. Instruction is an artificial and limited activity. It influences the child only in a limited time and place. But lifelong education goes on influencing an individual throughout his life. “Instruction ends in the classroom, but education ends only with life.”

Meaning, Nature and Scope of Education
Meaning, Nature and Scope of Education

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Nature of Education

The nature of education as follows:

  • Education as a Process.
  • Education as a Product.
  • Education as growth.
  • Education as direction.
  • Education as continuous reconstruction of experiences.
  • Instruction as education.
  • Education as acquisition of knowledge and skill.
  • Education as transmission of culture.
  • Education is a Bi-polar process.
  • Education is a Tri-polar process. Education as a life-long process.
  • Education is a definitive purposive.
  • Education is a development.
  • Education as a systematized.

Scope of Education

‘Scope’ refers to the breadth, range, extent, comprehensiveness and variety of learning experiences. According to the dictionary, scope means the extent or range of view, outlook, application, effectiveness and operation. From this point of view, education is concerned with the ‘whole-man’; the entire life of an individual comes under the purview of education.

Education is life itself; hence its scope is very wide. It is as wide as the whole world and as long as the history of mankind.

  • Philosophy of Education: As Dupis defines, “Philosophy of education is one of the oldest, yet one of the newest disciplines.” It is one of the oldest since Plato; the philosopher par excellence of ancient time’s devoted considerable attention to the nature, purpose and content of education it is one of the newest since philosophy of education began to emerge as a separate discipline only in the twentieth century. Now it is realised that philosophy determines all the aspects of education-nature of education, curriculum, method of teaching, nature of textbooks, nature of discipline, evaluation, role of the teacher, school organization etc. and education makes them practical.
  • Sociology of Education: Ottaway opines, “Education can be studied from many different points of view. What is here called the Sociology of Education is a fairly new name for an aspect of education which has always been the concern of the educator in some form or another.” Education is an activity which goes on in the society. Hence, its aims and methods depend on the nature of the society in which it functions. Sociology of education may be defined briefly, as a study or relation between education and society. From this definition it appears that sociology of education is a social study. Since its method is scientific, it is accepted as a branch of social science. This branch of study deals with the aims of education, methods of teaching, administration and supervision and curriculum only in relation to the socio-political. economic, cultural and religious forces of the society in which they take place.
  • Educational Psychology: Modern age is the age of science and technology. Psychology has been considered as one of the youngest, yet has most influenced education in many different ways and has practically given a new turn to the human mind. Therefore teachers at present should be equipped with those psychological skills and competencies which are badly needed for the successful guidance of learning, adjustment and the growth of the child.
  • History of Education: History of education also comes under the scope of education. By the help of this, we understand the gradual development of education during different periods of history. Besides this, it also helps us to find a suitable system of education according to the changing needs of the society.”
  • Comparative Education: Comparative education helps us to modify form, orient and improve our own education system in the light of the systems followed in other countries. It is the study of cross-cultural comparison of the structure, operation, methods, aims and achievements of various educational systems and practices of different countries of the world.
  • Problems and Issues of Education: Studies of educational problems and issues help us to find out the methods of solving these problems. Some of the important problems of education are vocationalization of education, problems of population education, non-formal education, adult education, development of a national system of education, religious and moral education, national integration, medium of instruction etc. Education cannot achieve progress, unless it studies these problems and finds their solutions.
  • Educational Administration and Supervisor: Administrative functions are concerned primarily with the material facilities and the operation of the schools and supervisory functions that are concerned with improving the learning situation. A student of education should know how these activities are going on in our schools.
  • Techniques of Teaching: The minds of the students are growing organisms. Stuffing the minds of the students with alien ideas is not right education. To make the food of education palatable we follow different techniques of teaching. The techniques of teaching have been based either upon the nature of the subject matter or psychology of the learning process or merely because it has been observed that certain ways of presenting the lesson is essential to develop the interest and attention of the students. The students of education should get themselves familiarised with different techniques of teaching.
  • Economics of Education: It is a branch of economies. It helps for the teachers, planners and policy makers in order to understand the demand and supply of education returns in education, problems of financing education etc.
  • Other Fields of Study: Since education plays a dynamic role in the dynamic society, many new subjects of studies are coming under the jurisdiction of education. Some such subjects are:
  • Education in the Emerging Indian Society
  • Non-formal Education
  • Professional and Technical Education
  • Library Education
  • Education and Vocational Guidance
  • Audiovisual Education
  • Basic Education
  • Socially Useful Productive Work
  • Measurements, Evaluation and Statistics
  • Fundamentals of Teaching Practice
  • Content-cum-Method of Teaching Different School Subjects
  • Health Education.

The scope of education is very wide. Therefore, it is not possible on the part of an individual to become perfect in all the fields of education. Students will have to specialise themselves in different fields of education only.

Other LinkMeaning of Education 

Meaning of Education


  • Aggarwal, J. C. (2011), Philosophical and Sociological Perspectives on Education, Shipra Publication, Delhi.
  • Chakarborty, A. K. (2008), Education in Emerging Indian Society, R. Lall Book Depot, Meerut.
  • Chaube, S.P., & Chaube, A. (2013), Educational Ideals of the Great in India, Neelkamal Publications Pvt. Ltd., Hyderabad.
  • Lal & Malhotra (2008), Education in the Emerging Indian Society, R. Lall Book Depot, Meerut.
  • Latchanna, Gara, Viswanathappa, G. & Srinivas, Kadem (2014), Foundations of Education, Neelkamal Publications Pvt. Ltd., Hyderabad.
  • Saxena, N. R. S., & Chaturvedi, S. (2003). Education in Emerging Indian Society, R. Lall Book Depot, Meerut.

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