Modern Education: Failure is Success – Part I
This will be the beginning of a three-part series on the state of modern education.
It seems that people these days are content to watch “American Idol” and “Entertainment Tonight” on television rather than actually learn anything. Most folks have forgotten (or more to the point, never knew) what learning is. Critical thinking has gone, like so many other invaluable skills, the way of the Do-Do bird. And many reading now ask…what’s a Do-Do bird?
In ancient Greece, universities were not the classroom style, indoctrination facilities of today. Indeed, the Greeks education system was far from the modern-day education. They actually taught people the skill of philosophy.
Philosophy, if you want to boil it down to simplicity, is the skill of looking at a problem with wide open eyes. If you look at anything as a man truly awake, the solution to the problem (or at least its cause) becomes evident. So, what sets ancient universities apart from modern education?
The answer is simple. No agenda existed in ancient schools. When early education stopped, the students who showed aptitude (or whose parents were wealthy) were sent to hone their skills in the area of critical thinking. A discussion would be suggested, and with minimal interference from the instructor, the students would explore all areas of the topic at hand. In short time, students were able to realize the flaws in their thinking and the areas in which they had failed to come to a complete conclusion.
This, my friends, is philosophy.
Many people believe that philosophy is just a collection of the works of people like Plato, Aristotle, and a bunch of old guys they don’t care about. In fact, real philosophy is the only thing that can sustain a society in its decline. With a few thinkers in positions of public trust, society can be enlightened to a higher form of thinking, a few individuals at a time.
What happened in our current educational system to stop a child’s, and later an adult’s, ability to actually think? Well, to understand this, you would have to read an obscure history. How many Westerners know about the “caste system” that India used centuries ago? Many people in the UK aren’t aware of it, despite the fact that their government imported this system into the British school system to subjugate the entire nation.
In India, there were five classes of people. From the upper class (caste) to the lowest, the number of members increased exponentially. The ruling caste was the smallest, while the caste known as the pariah (which can be described as, the scum of the earth) numbered in the hundreds of millions.
The system was ingenious, especially for the members of the ruling class. The only direction of movement within the system was down. Put simply, if you screwed up, you and your entire family would be cast down (where the pun comes from), and never with the hope of returning to a position of higher importance (for you or any member of your family forever).
The lower two castes, which made up over 80% of the population, were the class of workers and slaves (that may strike a familiar chord with anyone living in the US). In fact, for an elite member to consort with or even touch a member of the pariah class was strictly forbidden, and punishable by being cast down.