Saturday, January 11, 2014

What is true education?

This post is triggered by a friend’s fb post on Dec. 25, 2013.  In his wall, he posted a stack of books, probably his collection, and wrote:

"Is education a manifestation of the
superego qualifying and categorizing what we perceive and project ourselves to
be? Perhaps, but an educated man is not educated at all once he labels himself
and other people label him educated as well. Will a tricycle driver be more 
educated with a picture like this, a diploma in his sidecar? This is the reason
why i choose to be a teacher. Merry Christmas to all those teachers who
don't simply seek to educate"

This got me thinking.  What is education really for.  To a lot of people, education is about getting that diploma on the wall, make parents proud, and find a job and probably, get rich.  We are so proud brandishing our diplomas and sometimes even look down on others who failed to get one.  We feel smart having gone through all the preparations we made in order to get that piece of paper.  Unfortunately, there are some who, because of the high scholastic achievements feel like they are walking on cloud 9, way up there and look down on those lesser individuals who have not attained what they have achieved.  Is this what education is all about?

To be honest, education, while it does make our parents proud that we have finished college, is neither a guarantee that you'll end up having a good job nor will it make you rich.  There are a lot of college graduates who end up doing a lot differently from what they prepared for in college.  Let's face it.  We are producing more graduates than we have created jobs for them.  And each year, the number grows and grows and we have accumulated a huge number of misplaced graduates if not unemployed. 

Personally, I view education differently.   While I used to have the same notion as anybody, in my years of experience as an educator, I have finally come to the conclusion that education, in order for it to be meaningful, should be viewed as a personal enlightenment.  When we seek answers to questions during a time of wonder and awe, or maybe during times of confusion, find the answer or solution to a problem, imbibe the spirit of such information, then, we become educated. It is in the self - realization that we begin to know.  It is in finding answers ourselves that we begin to really understand. It is in finding the solutions to our problems that we find fulfillment and grasp the true meaning.  We do not need teachers to do that.  Especially teachers who think they know everything and that they are God's gifts to mankind sharing all the information they know, even if these are useless information.

Don't get me wrong.  Teachers play a very important role in the educational system.  While it is true, and I shall stand by my opinion, that education is a very personal matter.  However, sometimes, because of all the distractions we have, we tend to be lax and do not worry or marvel at the things around us.  When that happens, we do not ask questions.  We are comfortable the way we are.  And when we do not ask questions, we do not move forward.  Sometimes we do, but the problem is we may not be asking the right questions.  This is where the teachers come in.  They are the catalysts, the motivators and the guide for students to seek answers to the right questions.   Why do you think you need all those algebraic equations when you don't actually need them personally.  How many times have you used your knowledge of finding the x in linear functions in real life? The true teacher is one who makes you think.  Those equations are there for you to solve as an exercise for you to use your brains.  Think!  When you couldn't find the solution right away, they help you find it.  They find ways to make you find your way in the thickness of the forest.  It is the prime duty of the teacher to show you the connections.  This leads me to another point.  Since these are the ways in order for you to put your thinking caps on, a teacher should know how to motivate.  How could you be interested in finding the solution to a problem you do not find relevance in your life?  True, adults tell you that you will make good in life if you are good in  Math, Science and, in our case, English (because that is the medium of instruction).  How that is is probably because these are the subjects where you do a lot of thinking.  But surely, a good teacher should know how to make the subject interesting or the students will just play around if not sleep out of boredom.  The good thing is that the education system is improving.  We are starting to see the importance of showing the children the practicable use of the information we are giving them.  I did not have that luxury.  It has always been memorize, memorize during my time.

I think I digressed a bit.  My true intention of writing this post is that education is not to brag about.  We get educated because we want to know.  It is the drink that we need to quench our thirst, the food to sustain our lives.  Other than that, the knowledge we brag about is nothing.  As a matter of fact, the person who brags about his erudition is the one who needs to be treated like an idiot.  For after all, we are just humans and it is impossible for us to know everything.

"And listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant for they, too, have
their story"