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Education, instruction, learning, teaching: these are four words that refer to a universe that daily involves millions of human beings, from children and young people to adults.

It is a controversial topic that has involved countless discussions for many centuries.

Many governments do not seem very interested in investing large amounts of money in this universe, but strangely, or not, the most developed countries seem to be the ones that have invested the most in education over the last few centuries.

What distinguishes or characterizes these four words and these four concepts?

Going to the etymological origin gives us curious clues about the meaning of each of these words.

The word education is associated with the concept of creating and seeing develop while “instruction” is associated with the idea of adjustment.

Thus, education appears as a broader concept of a process that develops, over a long period, as someone who accompanies and contributes to the development of a human being.

In a different way, instructing implies pressure on someone and that translates into an adjustment. According to Henri-Irene Marou, the concept of instruction in Semitic languages was associated with the concept of punishment, as if the act of instructing necessarily implied pressure that could lead to punishment. There is an ancient text on papyrus, in which Egyptian disciples thanked the masters for the lashes received during the process of instruction they received.

Learning is associated with the self of absorbing or appropriating something new that would not be internalized. Learning can take place with or without guidance. We learn a lot on our own or we learn from someone specific or we learn from a large group of people our own age.

Finally, the act of teaching follows a path parallel to that of instructing, although it has a broader scope.

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