study-abroad

EDUCATION

EDUCATION

The proper aim of education is not to impart any specific content or knowledge. For a proper education will have armed the student with the skill sets and tools necessary to discover any specific knowledge desired. The amount of information available today is difficult to fathom and impossible to digest. It is no longer possible for a human to read every book that has been written in a single subject, let alone an entire library. What is often more important than how much one knows is how well one can find the information one needs. Encyclopedic memorization is not the aim of education. “In the learner-centered school ‘the having of wonderful ideas’ (Duckworth, 1987) is important, while in traditional schools the acquisition of information and skills is valued” (Schiro, 2008 p. 93). 


In order for a student to know how to find information that is desired and to be valued requires the ability to judge good information from bad. [Simply trusting the first links one sees on a Google search for a term (as a very simply example) could lead to very false understandings of a concept depending on the sources]. A discerning and critical eye is wanted from the student, not merely a robotic ability to look up a subject or word. This of course requires wisdom and sound judgment, which are amongst the aims of education. "All educators promote one political agenda or another. If educators' instructional efforts are not directed toward social reconstruction then they are directed towards social maintenance." (Schiro, 2008 p. 153) Knowledge is not to be regarded as neutral, nor is the knowledge that a teacher chooses to include or omit in a curriculum. Either we educate for change or we educate for maintenance. And yet, how does one instill this ability to judge a situation and decide on what is right or wrong, just or unjust? In order to answer this question we must ponder another; how do students learn? To be sure, students can learn from didactic lecturing, absorbing information and content as often encouraged in the scholar academic ideology. But I do not believe this is the most valuable method for learning. If the aim of education is merely to impart as much knowledge as possible, or to attain maximum technological sophistication, then many genocidal regimes would qualify as having achieved a well educated society. In Nazi Germany, to cite a relatively recent historical example, the first two unions to join Hitler’s party were those of the lawyers and doctors, certainly educated groups. How did educated, technologically advanced and ‘culturally sophisticated’ groups help commit genocide? Can the educational system that gives birth to genocide be deemed successful? One hopes we could all agree that it is not. Knowledge without wisdom is worse than meaningless, it is dangerous. In Freire’s scheme where there are oppressed and oppressors, the oppressors are not ignorant or foolish, they simply are able to make use of their knowledge (that is power) in manners that are wrong and unjust.