Many of my Asian students who are learning English say that parents can "educate" their children. However I'm not sure if this is a correct collocation in English. My understanding of "education" is that it is restricted to the classroom and schooling. Though of course parents can teach their children any number of things (and any individual can pursue their own "self-education"), I wouldn't call any of that "education" per se. "Parents educate their children", to my ears, does not sound like proper English. Any thoughts?
As others have pointed out, giving education is not limited to teachers. Parents may educate their children as well as teachers.
To develop an intuition about why this is the case, I think it is useful to distinguish between educate, teach, and learn (verbs), and to understand the nouns a teacher, and an education.
- to provide schooling for someone
- to train by formal instruction and supervised practice
- to develop mentally, morally, or aesthetically especially by instruction to provide with information, to inform
- to persuade or condition to feel, believe, or act in a desired way (e.g. "educate the public")
- to cause or help someone to learn about a subject by giving lessons
- to give lessons about a subject to a person or group
- to gain knowledge, understanding, or skill by study, instruction, or experience
- to come to be able
- to come to realize
Learning, then, is the outcome. Teaching is an attempt to cause learning by giving lessons. Education, however, is broader and includes settings that are not strictly lessons. Anyone may teach or educate, but a teacher is someone whose job it is to teach students about certain subjects. When teaching is given by trained, employed teachers in a structured setting, it is often referred to as formal education. The result (hopefully) is that students learn. What they receive over time is an education: the body of knowledge, including mental, moral, and aesthetic aspects, of a field of study.