Sunday, March 4, 2012

“The reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.”

Concerning a recent comment-conversation after the post ‘To Err is human’, I have decided to write about education, as I wrote last time as well. A coincidence, perhaps?
The problem with present day education is, put quite simply, cramming. Most small tests can be passed successfully with no effort, larger tests require learning things by heart. In a typical school, this is pretty much the only way to actually learn anything – the amount of information processed in lessons is only a small fraction of what should be processed according to the standards. This means loads of homework and independent learning. This, in practice, leads to lots of theoretical knowledge and barely any practical output. One might know everything about the life of Socrates or how to use determinants, but one usually has no use of it. While it is true that there is no knowledge that is not power, it is not easy to make the transition. It takes methodical, practical thinking to use the knowledge to have power. And this is something rarely taught. There are almost no lessons in which pupils or students have to think for themselves. This I see as a problem.
Of what use is a population full on know-it-all smart-asses who are unable to comprehend the basic logic behind society, economy, science, even privacy?
At this point of the story along comes a spider. “In the world of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.” It would appear that modern day education establishments aim to grow people to be obedient. A foolish crowd does not know which questions are to be asked, what morals have to be questioned, which claims to be doubted. Such a crowd is easy to govern for a person who understands the logic behind basic human instincts, wants and fears. This kind of a person could easily gather a following, topple the government, start a dictatorship and be a sad little king of a sad little hill. Or he could aim for world paranoia, then start a cult… well basically anything cult-ish would be a possibility. This is off the point I was trying to make but this is unfortunately a real possibility.
What I *was* trying to illustrate is that people who are not used to having to think for themselves, to fend for themselves, to fight for their rights, won’t. And thanks to our politicians being too rash or perhaps not at all that bright as they seem, we find reasons to fight. They may have already tapped into most unsecure phones, they may be able to read every single bit of information we store in our digital devices or the Internet. But for now, they can’t do it publicly, not without having to bring up excuses saying it is for the ‘greater good’. And it is up to education to make sure this is never going to be taken as the simple truth. It is one thing to teach knowledge, it is another to teach wisdom.

EDIT: forgot to mention my little side-project.

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