Monday, May 16, 2011

The struggle of the educated minds - an introduction

This post is a foreword to my views and opinions on the effectiveness of formal education which I intend to bring forth in detail in the near future.

My doubts on the effectiveness of the formal education system began to convert to certainties as the years drew closer to the official completion of the two-decade battle. And I've eventually found out that the system of education has indeed affected me negatively to a great extent, if not fully. Not that I would have acquired significant knowledge of any other kind by any other means of education, if not through the formal schooling and college education system. Still, the certainties come in the form that they've been only partially and very minimally successful, if I may call it a success, in imparting the right kind of knowledge. The flaw that I've felt in this mode is that it doesn't quite clearly put forth from the early days what is the right kind of knowledge that it intends to impart and how much of it (The Zeroth Flaw). Of course, it has the indubitable and perfectly compelling excuse of saying 'what is taught in class is very little and only theoretical, the actual learning is out in the world'. Agreed. But if that is the case, has the system at least made sure that it puts forth the right foundation? I am against this view. To me, this is obvious in the many dubious methods of teaching the theoretical foundations of some of the pertinent knowledge (that which is assumed and expected to be of use to everyone in the right sense of both pertinence and knowledge and on all the spheres of life).

I find it obvious that this has affected the effectiveness of using all that information and knowledge. Facts are facts. Facts are information. Facts are knowledge. But do we not find it quite odd that most of the times, these facts aren't of much use? It is not difficult to realize that we never put to use most of what we read/study/learn/acquire as knowledge. The best it does is that it brings some realization to a troubled mind that what is available is not always needed; and sadly, what is needed is not always available either.

It is in this aspect that the brain is severely crippled in handling the whole lot of knowledge, a mixture of all sorts; useful but incomprehensible and prohibited (The First Flaw), useless and unlawful (The Second Flaw), and dubious and immoral (depending on one’s views on morality, a topic for some other time). The more concerning matter is that it impairs the capability and outcomes of an individual in the society due to the expectations thrust upon him/her based on the universal laws of the flawed system, both in terms of misleading the individual to what level of knowledge is expected and what is the source of that desired knowledge. And the outcomes are disastrous sometimes.

The prime suspect in all this, I believe, is a false motivation. For a cliche, two of the most influential yet thoroughly misleading motivations in this aspect are thrust upon the child right from its childhood; 'Knowledge is Power' and 'Information is Wealth'. These two simple adages are so subtly and subconsciously thrust upon an individual like a slow poison, that the effects don't show up clearly until it is too late. These are like drugs that consume the mind of the person pushing him/her towards an irresistible ecstatic state and at one point driving the person to a condition from which there’s no way back. These have only complicated the existing system and continue to do so. The levels of irrationality, if I may call a spade a spade, that this extensive knowledge professes are so high that someone could easily tip over to blind beliefs in that knowledge and lacking complete reasoning to justify its usefulness or adoption to one’s life.

For example, in theory, motivation may be internal/external, positive/negative. Now just these two broad classifications (there may be more) bring four quadrants into the picture and a knowing mind is already in a fix as to where it draws its motivation from and of what kind it is.

More flaws on the way. Chaos prevails!