Weâ€™ve bought into the idea that education is about training and â€œsuccessâ€, defined monetarily rather than learning to think critically and to challenge. We should not forget that the true purpose of education is to make minds, not careers. A culture that does not grasp the vital interplay between morality and power, which mistakes management techniques for wisdom, which fails to understand that the measure of a civilization is its compassion, not its speed or ability to consume, condemns itself to death. — Chris Hedges
This brief paper is with regard to the sorry plight of our teachers and the general state of our educational system!
One of the primary issues that I wish to raise was on the question of â€œperformanceâ€ in conjunction to â€œrewardsâ€.
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Undeniably, it is beyond contestation that â€œit is a common knowledge that the core business for most schools today is to make students score and pass examinationsâ€.
The â€œemphasis in on drilling and more drilling, coaching and more coaching, and even cajoling students to do â€œwellâ€ in examinations.â€ I heavily doubted if anyone would dispute the said brutal prevailing reality.
It is on this great sense that I concur with the observation of Robert Kiyosaki when he said categorically that:
It seems to me that school system cannot admit they are not preparing children for real world. That would be admitting to failure- and we all know what failure means in the school system. It means the school thinks your child is not smart – but it really only means that your child isn’t doing what the school tells them to do.
What a shame!
Though, this is now the current trend; let me highlight the dangerous tendency of these misplaced procedure of the school ownersâ€™ attitude which is: Never mind, if the students truly learned anything at all, so long as they complied with all the process and satisfy all the requirements, thatâ€™s it!
It is my firm view and so holds that the said vulgar mindset and the indifferent attitude of the capitalist owners of the schools is the ultimate betrayal of the true aim of education.
As one brilliant student before the start of the examination asked in a mocking question to the â€˜teacherâ€™:
â€œShould we put down what we think is right, or what we think you think is right?â€
It is the vehement and passionate contention of this writer that that is not the true aim of a true, libertarian and enlightened education.
Further, it is incontestable that the process many school administrators now implement is not education at all neither does it cultivate the minds of our lads.
Sadly, the procedure now being subscribes to by the modern educational system is spoon-feeding; which is the worst type of brain-washing that would give rise to intellectual retardation and academic regression.
Such process of relying solely to the perfection of the examination will undeniably would kill all forms of creativity, dynamism, distinctiveness and intellectual/mental diversity.
This led Doris Lessing to state mockingly and sarcastically that:
Ideally, what should be said to every child, repeatedly, throughout his or her school life is something like this: ‘You are in the process of being indoctrinated. We have not yet evolved a system of education that is not a system of indoctrination. We are sorry, but it is the best we can do. What you are being taught here is an amalgam of current prejudice and the choices of this particular culture. The slightest look at history will show how impermanent these must be. You are being taught by people who have been able to accommodate themselves to a regime of thought laid down by their predecessors. It is a self-perpetuating system. Those of you who are more robust and individual than others will be encouraged to leave and find ways of educating yourself â€” educating your own judgments. Those that stay must remember, always, and all the time, that they are being molded and patterned to fit into the narrow and particular needs of this particular society.
The product of this puerile system would be grim and ugly!
Instead of molding independent thinkers and passionate scholars; true and faithful to their craft; we on the other hand are producing â€œrobotsâ€, bonsaisâ€, and rare species of birds who cannot use their wings and afraid to fly, because we have destroyed, shattered and broken institutionally their wings!
The primordial duty of the teacher is not merely to teach their students to pass the examination with flying colors, but more importantly to inculcate the virtue of good moral character, perseverance, ethical leadership and intellectual values; which are utterly necessary for the further development of their personality and soul.
As Socrates himself selflessly taught, our duty and obligation as teachers and educators is not to teach our lads what to think, but how to think and to think independently beyond our teaching! They must transcend the borders of their minds, create their own queries and have the courage and audacity to answer their own questions!
Yet, sad but true, that is not it seems to be the way of teaching in todayâ€™s world.
More and more, education is becoming a commodity, a thing that is for sale in the market. From an inherent right of every human being, it is now becoming a mere privilege!
As the joke goes: No money, no honey! No tuition fee, no entry, no permit, no examination, no ID, no entry! Â Sad but true!
It is a heart-wrenching global phenomenon that â€œteachingâ€ today emphasizes more on getting the â€œnecessaryâ€ degrees and high paying jobs at the expense of true scholarship and moral well-being. Â Again to quote Chris Hedges (â€œWhy the United States Is Destroying Its Education Systemâ€, April 11, 2011) wrote forcefully:
Passing bubble tests celebrates and rewards a peculiar form of analytical intelligence. This kind of intelligence is prized by money managers and corporations. They donâ€™t want employees to ask uncomfortable questions or examine existing structures and assumptions. They want them to serve the system. These tests produce men and women who are just literate and numerate enough to perform basic functions and service jobs. The tests elevate those with the financial means to prepare for them. They reward those who obey the rules, memorize the formulas and pay deference to authority. Rebels, artists, independent thinkers, eccentrics and iconoclasts — those who march to the beat of their drum — are weeded out.
It is my humble belief and so holds that the pure aim of education is primarily to seek the goodness of manâ€™s soul and not simply to develop his financial capability.
As one great philosopher have said: â€œSeek first the Kingdom of the Soul and all the treasures of the world will be added unto youâ€!
Hence, I will passionately argue that ultimate objective of the educational institution whether they are public or private is to hammer our lads to be the best that they can be by developing their character through critical thinking, harnessing their soft skills and cultivating their inner moral worth.
We must teach them to think logically, exhort them to always do the right thing and at all times, admonish them to act with justice and conduct themselves in a humanitarian manner, because in the final analysis: the ultimate aim of a true, dynamic and libertarian education is not simply to teach our lads how to make a living but to live a beautiful, virtuous and happy Lifeâ€¦
The writer has a Master’s degree in Philosophy, a law degree and a degree in AB Political Science. He was previously teaching Philosophy, Ethics and Anthropology at an institution of higher education in the Nilai University College at Nilai, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia. He is currently a lecturer at the College of Arts, Department of Philosophy at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines.
As of the moment, he is preparing to publish his first book entitled “Dissidente”. It is a collection of his articles, commentaries and op-ed published by various newspapers in Southeast Asia.