It makes my skin crawl when people use the term “educated” as a mark of esteem. The term is specifically referring to “well-educated,” which means having attended certain sorts of schools and universities. Despite the U.S. societal myth of living in a meritocracy, being “well-educated” is not just a marker of intelligence. It’s a marker of having the amount of privilege and social capital required to get into—or to even know how to get into—rigorous academic institutions. There are plenty of intelligent people who have not been “educated” in formal schooling.
Even for me, it’s easy to make assumptions about what kinds of conversations I can have with people based on their education level. After spending a year abroad I’m pretty bored of conversations about what kinds of foods I do and do not eat. I feel excited by conversations that revolve around social, political and economic issues. Those conversations can be with people who have graduated from college, but I’m frequently disappointed by “well-educated” interlocutors who chat about the world’s ills for an hour and conclude that “such is life,” or “it’ll always be like that.” I usually find that sort of apathy among other travelers, and it’s one of many reasons I try to avoid tourist destinations in my rogue wanderings.
Because what is the use of being able to identify injustice if it doesn’t change how you understand and act in the world? Personally, I loved school and my formal education, but whether someone is “educated” matters a lot less to me than some other descriptions, such as active and compassionate.
P.S. I’m back in the U.S.A. for the first time in a year.