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What is Education all about? The current debate about improving education; syllabus, methodology, accessibility to all, and its affordability, is all guided by a utilitarian motive. It must finally lead to a gainful, if not a high salaried job in the current market. With education further linked to careers that are of a premium value such as: all white collar jobs, but more specifically, careers as – Doctors, Engineers, UPS Cadre jobs, Computer programmers, IT specialists, MBA’s, Lawyers, Architects, Journalists, Mass Media related jobs, etc.
Little attention is paid to the capabilities and aspirations of the individual. Is it not surprising that at the end of a course of study, and maybe a few years into a job based on that qualification, the individual realizes he/she does not find job satisfaction. What then can he/she start all over again? Theoretically the person can choose another line and purse his/her real interest, and make it his/her life’s passion. In practice that is hard to come by. After investing a good amount of money and time on one profession, changing to another is not an easy option. One finds oneself stuck, having to make do with what one has in hand.
What then is education all about?
Let me think aloud and explore what I think is education as it should be.
Education is about learning, but learning that is fun. It is a response to intellectual curiosity. The discovery of what lies hidden, and that beckons one to keep searching. There is a joy in discovering, in unearthing what was there but has been hidden from one’s awareness all along. Such learning is energizing. It brings the hidden potential of the student – seeker, to the fore. Time and effort are not given grudgingly but are committed generously to accomplish the task of finding what one’s heart seeks. Learning motivated by this curiosity is creative and free.
One of the goals of education is to make a person well informed.Information does play an important role in carrying out various tasks, such as writing an essay, opening a bank account, giving a speech, travelling to a new part of the city or country, etc. But one need not clutter one’s mind with needless details, which can be obtained as and when needed from the right sources. What one will have to learn is where to obtain information, quickly in time of need.More than being a walking encyclopedia, it is important to be a person who thinks, and has a definite opinion on various matters. The ability to think, clearly, logically, taking into account various points of view, and coming to a synthesis of all that is said on the matter is a more useful objective than just parroting details that can be obtained from the internet more effectively.
Education cannot be limited just to intellectual pursuits. It must bring about the integral development of the person. In general psychology, mention is made of the head, the heart and the hands. These three encompass the entirety of the human person. All these areas of a person need to be developed to bring out the best in a person.
In conclusion two other matters are worth mentioning: The first is education is not value neutral. It has to be value based. It communicates a definite set of values, inviting the student to grown into them, to inculcate them in him/her personality and to live by them. Values such as honesty, hard-work, faithfulness, concern for the other, compassion, generosity, fair play, moderation, respect for others – elders and the weak, are a must for every student to imbibe.
Two, education is for life. What one learns in the classroom must prepare the person to live life, in a wholesome manner. It must give rise to a person who is respectful of others. A person who can embrace diversity in all its forms, see it as a value and not as a limiting factor. A person who gets along with others in interpersonal relationships, able to self-disclose, be empathetic with the other, reach out to the other not only in a functional manner but also to build working teams and lasting friendships. A person who can enjoy life, find joy in small things, able to laugh at self and be good humored, be comfortable with oneself, to being challenged by others, able to tolerate solitude for small and long periods. All of these qualities are a good preparation for a life of personal harmony and peace.
Keith Abranches, S.J.
3rd Sep, 2015