Hongkongers have recently had to reflect on what education entails for their young people after the Education Bureau called for the expunging of a question from its national school-leavers’ history exam, insisting that there was no room for discussion. The offending question asked students to weigh whether “Japan did more good to China than harm in the period of 1900-45”. So what does education encompass? A primary, well-recognised definition of education involves the systematic instruction, teaching or training in various academic and non-academic subjects received by a child or an adult, typically at school or university. More fundamentally, education is also the process of bringing up and nurturing a child, with reference to forming character, and shaping manners and behaviour. The word entered English, first in the late 1520s and more regularly from the 1600s, from the Middle French education and classical Latin e ducatio n - and educatio , which are based on educat- , the past participial stem of educare . Educare does indeed hold the meanings of “to rear, to train”. Another related, though distinct, sense of education involves the culture or development of personal knowledge or understanding, growth of character, and moral and social qualities, as contrasted with the imparting of knowledge or skill. This meaning is believed to have developed most likely through influence of the other classical Latin word related to education, educere . From the Latin ex - (“out”) + ducere (“to lead”), which comes from the Proto-Indo-European root * deuk - (“to lead”), educere means to bring out, lead forth, draw out (as well as further meanings in medicine and chemistry involving drawing off medicaments or isolating a substance from a compound or mixture) – thus underscoring the connotations of a person’s intrinsic qualities being drawn out. We can thus clearly discern two distinct philosophies of education in educare vs educere : on the one hand, the potentially unidirectional “repeat after me” transmission of knowledge and skills; and, on the other, the dialogic drawing out of learners’ innate knowledge and ideas, and nurturing of critical thinking. “We don’t need no education / We don’t need no thought control”. Pink Floyd’s 1979 anthem against a totalitarian reduction of every pupil to just “another brick in the wall” still resonates. There is a need for education, now more than ever, of the kind that cannot preclude the debate and critical thinking that educere entails – especially to avoid shaping bricks for increasingly encroaching walls.