Education, the process by which people's abilities and talents are developed. Education, in this broad sense, is also everything that is learned and acquired in a lifetime: habits, knowledge, skills, interests, attitudes, and personality. From this standpoint, people become educated not merely by attending schools but by the total experiences of life. They learn through direct experience, imitation, and self-teaching. They learn from parents and friends, from such institutions as churches and libraries, from recreational and social agencies such as clubs, and from the press, motion pictures, radio, television, and the like.

In a narrower sense, education is the systematic, organized process of teaching and learning that centers largely in some form of school. It is with this definition of education that the remainder of this article deals. Schooling is usually divided into stages or levels: elementary, secondary (usually called high school), and higher education (colleges, universities, and professional schools). Adult education is often considered a fourth level. There are two main types of education: (1) liberal, or general, education—the nonspecialized education that is concerned with activities that all people have in common regardless of occupation; (2) vocational and professional education, the training that prepares persons for specific jobs or professions.