Education In Its Essence

For factors heavily driven by market forces rather than by true callings, the three most popular college courses young people have swarmed into in the last decade here are nursing, computer science and criminology. It backfired though when a surfeit of nurses and security personnel/watchmen emerged as a consequence after their supply overlapped the demand for them. Same can be said for the manpower resources in the business outsourcing industry. We are in a stage of societal evolution where everything is measured in market values. What then will become of education when all things monetary eclipse the urge for deeper learning and culture-enhancement?

My son is entering his fifth and last year in his engineering studies, majoring in a field of his own choosing. I originally had wanted Music to become his lifelong career because he exhibited some talent in playing the piano and the guitar in his earlier years. But (unfortunately for me) it was not meant to be. He had already made his choice then and was adamant about it even before I had the chance to convince him to make a go in the field of Arts. With a heavy heart, I bent to his wish. Nonetheless, I’ve always carried this belief that Science and Math are the tools for living while Music and the Arts are the reasons for living.

As this week marks the opening of another school year in our nation where education is considered a federal priority, I find myself rapt in thought, ruminating on a few educational philosophies of life. There are questions that have fermented in my consciousness for the past several days.

Is there an assurance that my son will go the right path and never lose his way? He’s naturally God-fearing that goes side by side with his having an academic nature. I am thankful for that. But what guarantee do I have that he won’t get sidetracked in the long run?

So when is a person deemed to be truly educated? I guess my simple mind can only allow me concise and upfront answers to these issues. Is it enough that a well-refined mind be able to recite verses from Shakespeare’s tales? Have a deep appreciation for classical symphonies and concertos? Aim for and achieve success through accumulation of liquid wealth, medals, stuff and sundry representation of riches?

Sometimes high literacy also tends to give a false illusion that we are in an elite league of our own. Members of society that have become so out of touch by the way.

Does having an MBA or PHD in an area of specialization, for example, give one a license to be highly discriminating and spit out arcane rhetoric with accompanying judgment without basis or proof? Thereby cementing the conviction about his or her perception being flawless, never susceptible to distortion? Is there nary a room now for misconceptions? Scholarly hubris often blinds someone to the realities of his or her surroundings I guess. If education is supposed to sharpen one’s awareness and intellect, how come many of us get clueless as to what is real and what is not? This is kind of distressing.

You can be anything you want to with the right amount of education. Therein lounges (a little?) some danger. The mind can be such a powerful tool. Knowledge has the ability to twist the truth and even concoct something invisible to our naked eyes. We have to be reminded history has produced a multitude of malefactors despite the high level of intelligence and incredible credentials they possess out of their advanced schooling. Having exceptional intelligence and being well-schooled doesn’t make one resistant to temptations and incapable of violating codes of conduct or committing acts of transgression.  Technology, the end result of all those knowledge explosion, ironically gets to be an accessory in the process.

Education makes a whole lot of difference. That is an incontestable fact. Moral education then should therefore be considered a national priority to help create conscientious, civic-minded and responsible citizens. I’ve never been a deeply religious person and yet I’ve begun to discern the importance of religion and education working hand in hand in character building and the overall progress of a nation. Much as serious problems have consistently hounded our educational system, it may be fundamental after all for Church-run or other religion-run schools to keep a dominant presence in our society so that they may be able to help in molding our young citizens into becoming better human beings.

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7 thoughts on “Education In Its Essence

  1. You’ve identified the most pressing dilemma about education: is it for the good of the individual, or for society as a whole? I don’t know how to answer that, except to hope that what benefits one can benefit the other. Your son may seem to get sidetracked at some point, and as a loving mother you will be concerned. But life rarely moves in a straight line, which you know as well as anyone. You’ve given him the morals and values he needs. And while there’s no way to predict which decisions he’ll make and which options he’ll reject, I think you’re going to be very proud of him. I suspect he already feels the same way about you.

    • You’ve made very compelling and valuable arguments here, Charles. Likewise, I can only hope that education benefits both the individual and the whole society.
      I confess this post was inspired partly by an acquaintance whose lush, gifted mind doesn’t seem to be in sync with his demeanor in the face of temptation. So that got me thinking, where does education get in the picture and will my son ever be in the same predicament?
      My son will get sidetracked at many points in his journey, no doubt about that. I only wish I’d still be around for as long as I could to be able to support him in whatever decision he makes.
      Your son must be a young man by now too. And I’ve this feeling he’s just as proud of you as you are of him. He’s fortunate for having you as his father.

  2. This is so true. People often think that just because you’re highly educated, you’re always right or that you’re above some people. How often do we find ourselves being biased by these? We often believe or admire those whose educational attainment surpasses most of us. Can’t we see that education isn’t limited to the four walls of our classrooms? That education by experience is education too? We should acknowledge that too.

    It’s sad that we’re becoming robots. All about the knowledge, but not wise and are not always morally right. We’ve become so calculated. But I still believe it isn’t too late. 🙂

    • Very well said, my girl.
      I’ve actually known a number of people with MBAs and even PhDs who don’t make sense when they open their mouths. (Ok, that’s purely based on my impression :-))
      My point is, one cannot claim superiority over others just because he or she has got a more elevated ranking in education, and I believe an awareness that we ultimately have to answer to a Higher Power who reigns above us all remains as the best guide to a straighter path.
      Thanks for reading my posts and commenting.

  3. My industry has been plagued by all those who took computer sciences thinking it would be a ticket to high pay (and only for that reason). Same as how you got into Accounting… because it seemed the sensible choice. And so many of those who do that don’t have “it” — that certain something that makes one successful in their craft.

    In the USA, in many regards, the education system is nothing more than an expensive baby sitter for the nation’s young. You generally don’t “get” an education, but you can seek one out. The problem is that, in these anti-intellectual times, few make that choice.

    • You naturally have “it” because you were successful as a computer programmer. But you seem to be the kind who can be good at anything you focus your mind on. I believe kids must be advised early in life to pursue the field that would cultivate their talents and interests – and not be encouraged to take studies for the mere goal of financial gain.
      I wonder what other professions you would have considered if you hadn’t chosen computer programming and the field of Entertainment (working in the background).

      • Teaching, preaching, music or science are all possible directions. It would have been something in the sciences had I not stumbled onto theatre and the arts. Although maybe it’s true that, if it hadn’t been that, it would have been something else given my proclivities.

        It does seem true that I can master most intellectual activities. That’s less true with physical and emotional ones. For example, I’m not a good dancer, and I was a horrible skydiver. There are strong indications that gaining skill there is a much bigger challenge than, say, reading about tensor mathematics.

        Pity. Those are two things I wish I did excel at!

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