Education is the institution of learning. Sometimes the institution is mistaken for the organisations entrusted with teaching. Sometimes it is mistaken for the buildings and teachers within it. But it really describes the distance between ignorance and knowledge in any of the thousands of areas of knowledge in our world. It includes history, viagra sale generic science, pills arts and stories that are taught systematically to people in our societies in order to progress and protect the lives of the individuals who live in it – and of the society itself.
The Second Law of Thermodynamics dictates that heat will flow from a warmer area to a cooler one. If information was seen as heat, malady education can be seen as obeying the Second Law, too. It is the flow of knowledge towards ignorance. And who are the teachers? Anyone or anything that a person will learn from, listen to, and trust.
Is the value of education understood by the learners who swim in it? Many people are happily ignorant and jealously protect that from interference. On some level they understand that new knowledge demands a change in our actions in order to maintain personal integrity. Knowledge is power. Once you discover that you are powerful you must use that power or be condemned as having wasted it. Once you discover that every human is your brother, sister, mother, father, son or daughter, you must use your power to pull the ones below you out of the drowning waters of suffering. Once you discover that you yourself are enslaved, you must use your power to pull yourself out of the slavery towards freedom. This is the yoke of knowledge. It can be thrown off with action true to your conscience, or by running away from the reality with medication, entertainment or therapy.
Knowing how difficult it is to live in a world where you believe everybody is equal and deserving of human rights, would you inflict the pain of such a pre-determined course on your children? Or would you want them to be happy and free from the yoke of responsibility that comes from such enlightened attitudes? The road to personal peace is paved with ignorance. What right do you have to torture your child with the shackles of empathy and decency? You should be incarcerated for negligence because you did not give them their god-given opportunity to be ignorant and happy. That is the double-edged sword of education.
The gradual degradation of our written language in children coming through the education system is often lamented by older journalists, authors, teachers and academics. Shorthand texting on mobile phones and the move away from the importance of “The Three Rs” (Reading, ‘Riting and ‘Rithmetic) in education are two targets for blame for this situation. The implication is that complexity of thought and its expression to other people can only (or best) be achieved with a correctly spelt and conjugated written language. I don’t think the grammar or spelling is as important as the breadth of vocabulary. It is in being able to finely distinguish between two ideas that true communication exists.
Before the printing press, some cultures trained people incessantly in their oral tradition, and great pride was taken in accurately repeating what was passed on from one generation to the next. The advent of massive recording and archiving of video on the internet allows the recording of thoughts and ideas in a way that is as permanent as a book, provided it is backed up reliably. What is not available at present is an easy way to find videos relating to particularly finely selected criteria, the way we currently can with text in Google.
Words change their meaning over time. Words from even twenty years ago have changed their meaning. “Wicked” once meant evil, then good, and now evil again, depending on the context. “Awesome” used to mean fearsome. Now it means excellent. How much more difficult would it be to understand the correct meaning of words written hundreds or thousands of years ago?
Experience and the education required to understand it is the key to wisdom. Together they provide lessons in how to act in spite of our fears. Education is the “KY Jelly” of society which lubricates its members and allows them to interact more tolerantly. Linguistics, the study of language, is feared by many politicians, power-brokers and con-men. Learning about false logic in arguments can be used to confront prejudiced thinking in ourselves and others, and can be used to identify manipulation by others. A love of history and study of the use of our language can be used to critically analyse and expose the meaning behind the words of our leaders, for our benefit.
It is becoming increasingly apparent that the quality of teaching is key to quality education and it is time that public policy focuses on this ahead of other more easily measurable directions.