5 Fundamental Educational Concepts in Practical Learning


Some concepts are used repeatedly in educational discussions. These concepts occur because of their central importance in education. To employ them properly demands that we understand them. Here, we shall attempt a clarification of educational concepts such as Training, Conditioning, Indoctrination, Teaching, and Education.


Training involves highly concentrated activity. It involves a high level of regimentation towards the performance of specific skills and tasks that are expected to be performed as a form of routine. Training is used about man and animals i.e. both human beings and animals can be trained to perform certain skills and tasks. For example, children are trained to read and write as well as perform certain skills associated with physical education such as swimming, jumping, javelin throwing, etc. Training however demands a high degree of discipline, performance, and demonstration.

Although education involves a lot of training in skills, mastery of such does not necessarily confer education on the recipient. This is because training is considered a much narrower concept compared to education. It therefore suggests that being a trained engineer, doctor or scientist does not necessarily make one an educated fellow as training does not command similar attributes of education.


Conditioning refers to the methods by which a man or animal is made to respond to certain stimuli or to act in certain ways that tend to bypass intelligent performance. Such action is repeated to establish permanence and some kind of automatic response. The person involved is not prepared to think but simply acts on command. Conditioning is a very narrow method of eliciting behavior. Although it might be effective, it is considered educationally unethical and unacceptable.


This is used for doctrine, dogma, attitude, belief, etc. It is a method by which an attempt is made to implant these in an uncritical and unquestioning mind. It relates to the belief that is devoid of knowledge. It seeks to suppress intelligence. It is used about belief, attitude, etc. rather than action. It is similar in principle to conditioning except that conditioning relates to action while indoctrination relates to belief, attitude, doctrines, ideologies, and the like. It is equally unethical and not educationally acceptable. It does not last as it is subject to easy manipulation by someone with higher intelligence. It easily leads to fanaticism and gullibility.

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It is important to note that knowledge needs to prove or evidence, it is tentative, open, and can be proven wrong so long there is evidence.

Teachers should discourage the use of indoctrination and should always support what they teach with evidence. It is not enough that learners should believe and accept whatever we teach them. They should be prepared to have the necessary proof and be able to defend views for which there is evidence.

One could be said to be indoctrinated if one has accepted a belief over which:

  1. there is a substantial dispute;
  2. there is no corroborating evidence;
  3. if the belief is accepted in a non-rational manner and;
  4. if the evidence leads to a contrary conclusion.


Teaching is a central concept in education. It can be seen as a process or activity that teachers engage in. It can equally be regarded as an occupation or profession. When we think of it in terms of the totality of input and output, it becomes an enterprise. And it can be taken as a task or achievement word such as when a teacher claims that he has taught how to solve a quadratic equation.

Teaching is highly related to learning which can only be done by a human learner under a voluntary atmosphere and about new situations as one cannot be said to learn what he already knows. That is why learning is said to be subjective i.e. it can only be done by the learner although he can be assisted by psychological and sociological factors such as motivation and enabling learning environment.

As important as teaching is, it cannot take the place of education. This is because teaching relates more to formal situations like the school system but education goes beyond what happens in our schools. Frankena (1973) presents a graphic representation of teaching when he argues that teaching occurs whenever X is fostering or trying to foster in Y some disposition D by method M.

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X:     those doing the teaching whoever they are

Y:     those being taught

D:   dispositions that are desirable Y should acquire

M: the satisfactory methods.


Education denotes intrinsically worthwhile activities. It is a process of being initiated into knowledge and understanding which in turn regulates the recipients’ attitudes, emotions, wants, and actions. The recipient has to be more than just ‘knowledgeable’; the knowledge has to alter his view of the world, that is, the interpersonal world, the world of social, economic, and political institutions. While this knowledge and understanding have to be worthwhile, the process of acquisition must also be ethically defensible. And these processes include all organization modes in which these processes are promoted. They include formal, non-formal informal, and casual modes.

The above account is in no way novel. Similar accounts are found in the ideas of philosophers of education such as Peters, Frankena, Akinpelu, and Soltis among others. For example, Akinpelu gives a stipulative definition of education when he says:

by education, I mean all planned

the systematic process of human improvement

or development, as well as the

organizational modes in which these

processes are promoted.

similarly, Fred Clarke (1923) says

the aim o education is the attainment

of a right understanding of the eternal.

and the expression of that understanding

in and through the ways of common life.

One major problem with the above two views is that they have left some important aspects of the concept unemphasised. For instance, the method of fostering certain content is absent while only a passing remark is made about the content of education. This problem is typical of stipulative definitions since they are employed to facilitate discourse. While the above stipulative definitions are being criticized as inadequate, we have more satisfactory definitions in accounts given by Peters and Frankena.

Frankena (1973) writes that education is used for the activity, process, or enterprise of educating or being educated and sometimes for the discipline or field of study that concerns itself with the activity, process, or enterprise. He emphasizes education as an activity or process, or enterprise of being educated, which consists according to him.

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To him, every concept of education as a process or enterprise differs simply in what they substitute for the variables in this formula, that is, in what dispositions they say are or should be cultivated by whom, in whom, and by what methods.

From the above analysis, we can see that education is a broad concept that is closely related to many other education educational concepts such as schooling, literacy, training, achievement, morality, and so on. While these other concepts are part and parcel of what is involved in education, they cannot on their serve as adequate substitutes for the concept of education. And this is why in the philosophy of education; simplistic definitions are not given since they are bound to be inadequate and unsatisfactory.

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