A few days ago, I was reading a book that argued about the dangers and disadvantages of education. It had valid points about how education makes us blind to non-academic pursuits and that it gives too much importance to career progress. These days, an average university graduate usually has just one thing on his mind, how to climb the corporate ladder and have a successful career? This has become the entire summary of education these days. Get a nice degree, get employed in a multinational corporation and start battling your way towards increased wages and higher designations. Education is supposed to better us morally, yet it is not. It is destroying us as a person and as a nation, instead. What is the point of education if we cannot be better human beings?
In pre-partitioned India, most educated people went on to become scholars, poets, philosophers, politicians and they played unarguably the most important role in the fight for freedom. But in the 21st century, these subjects are regarded as “Arts”. Arts which people opt for when they have nothing else left to opt for. The values of our culture and our civilization are based on the contributions of the good-fellas of literature, philosophy and civics who dedicated their lives towards trying to teach the ignorant Indian Muslim race the importance of education. But now, the brightest of minds go for careers in Engineering, Medicine and other high paying fields. It’s all just about money. Sure, a country needs to be highly competitive and advanced when it comes to science in the modern world but that’s not it. There is more to education than science and economics.
In the Nazi regime, Albert Speer was serving Hitler as the Minister of Armaments and War Production. His education led him to the idea that his country needs to grow and flourish. He used his expertise to help Hitler and the Nazi partydevelop deadly weapons of annihilation and work on their way towards “world domination” and he was very proud of it. But in the later part of his life he looked at the consequences of his blind pursuit towards science and technology. He witnessed the destruction that was caused by his knowledge in World War II. Same can be said about the Manhattan Project where an astonishing discovery by Albert Einstein was converted into a weapon that is the only cause of world chaos since World War II till now.
So, looking at the educational system this way, it is quite clear what side-effects we are having from this bad medicine. It’s weakening us. Destroying humanity bit by bit. But what is the solution then? Ignorance is surely not bliss. The solution is a change. A change in what we are taught in schools and colleges. A change in the perspective by which we see our progress. A change that teaches us what we should value and what not. A change that allows us to understand the deeper meanings of literature instead of just enjoying it as entertainment.
Practical Education, is what we need. The idea is to teach the pupils, the practicality of a theory, subject or definition. Teaching biology surely helps understand hoe nature works in living beings but very few of the students know how to plant vegetables in their gardens. When you are giving knowledge to a child, you must also teach him how to use it in the real world. Algebra is taught to us since the 2nd grade these days but we do not know how we can use it to simplify our daily tasks. We know what Pythagoras Theorems are, but we have no idea how it can be used in our daily lives to make chores a lot easier. Children, these days, have no skills to show when they graduate from schools and colleges. If these things are properly covered, one can never be blind in judgement about what he should do with his education and career. If he already knows what path his particular subject is going to lead to, he can make a wiser choice.
Some people are working on it though. There is also a new schooling system that has been introduced in some cities of Pakistan. The system removes the burden of homework from the students, does not ask from them to carry bags to school, and it does not use books as a tool for teaching. Instead, they start from the basics of how a kid would have learned if he/she were taught at a place where books were not available. Sounds dumb? It is brilliant actually. This eliminates a problem that is corrupting our youth, entirely, i.e. memorizing the answers to all the questions. They teach you about something, they show you how this is applied in real life, they leave you in a situation or a place where you have dozens of opportunities to apply what you have been taught and they watch you. This is your examination. At the end of every month, they invite the parents to the schools, give them a list of topics they have covered and challenge them to ask their child anything from it. This is pure genius. This would not only help the students use their abilities in a practical manner but also lay down a concrete foundation of knowledge from which there is no end.
This sort of a system unarguably teaches you more than any book can. It presents education as it should be presented and it leaves room for the other part of knowledge that we need. Ethics, religion, morality, all these things are dependent on your primary education. You cannot possibly be a good person if you do not know how nature works, how things work, how people work. In order to be rationally sound, you need to be able to asses your options and approach towards a single matter, as well as towards life. Proper education gives you a proper platform to discover the perks of philosophy, civics, religion and it teaches you how behaviour can be the sole thing responsible for outcomes in your life. An educated nation would always prevail over the others.
Our religion has laid down an excellent guideline for us to follow, to ensure that our children progress towards a better country and a better world. We teach our children how to talk before we teach them what to talk about, we teach them how to spend before we hand them over the money, and we teach them how to dress before we let them do their own shopping. Then why don’t we teach them how to live a life while balancing their career with moral values before we teach them how to be accountants, engineers, doctors and businessmen?