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Education: Friend or Foe?

Article By: Don George
Editorial and opinion

The theme is "What does education mean to you?"

Submitted:Dec 20, 2009    Reads: 95    Comments: 3    Likes: 2   

Don Nunley
What Education means to me
I would like to, at least in part, take a comprehensive view of education. I consider all experiences and consequent learning, a broad model of what education is. Indeed, because I believe in reincarnation,
innate ideas are a prerequisite to an expanding education; that we build upon past experiences from the moment we are born. The fact that we all have different past experiences accounts for our different personalities. These ideas are apart from what is commonly referred to as a "formal" education. Much of the knowledge learned "formally" is passed along from the experience of others. Often, as is the case, we compare this presented knowledge with the experiences of our own, generating an emotional response which can run the gamut from awe to disinterest. We may feel surprise or disbelief but generally we just accept the accounts taught for a variety of reasons; perhaps the info needs to be recalled in order to pass a test or we trust the information because it is out of our expertise. For these reasons I feel that education is necessarily an ongoing enterprise. I view education as an essential aspect of expanding our horizons.
One reason why I believe that education is such a valued commodity is the idea that "knowledge is power". Education, certainly, not only assists the rise in economical stature but is often an essential component. Many of the higher paying jobs demand a degree, resulting in formal education. My fear is that there is often a discrepancy in what is taught and what is learned. Much of what we need to know is hands on practical experience, in a given field, which is difficult to present in a classroom or a book. For this reason, I think that there is no substitute for "trial and error". On the other hand, the advent of the written page has allowed us to leap forward by gaining knowledge from the experience of others; virtually bringing vast amounts of time and energy directly to our door step. There was a time, however, when the advent of printing was, somewhat understandably, met with fear and suspicion. First of all, change of any sort is often a fearful prospect because we find security in familiarity.
When I watched a movie called The Hunchback, I learned in the intro, which states:
Paris, France - 1480
A dark, frightening time
When people believed the
World was flat and that
Gods truth was hand written
On sacred parchment paper in
Cathedral libraries.
It was a world where modern
Ideas were banned by the church
And the mere possession of a
Printed page was a crime
Punishable by death.
that education could, conceivably, be thought of as a double edged sword. In his book, Tradition and Reform in the Teaching of English: a history, Arthur N. Applebee writes:
If literature had the power to do good, it must also have the power to do evil.
Well into the nineteenth century, imaginative literature was likely to be attacked
as a source of corruption as to be defended as a way toward salvation. (74)
Certainly, possessing classified knowledge can place one in a vulnerable position. Education provides the means by which we can express ourselves and better understand others. As these skills improve, we
are in a better position to be effective decision makers and leaders. These thinking tools can also serve to help safeguard us against deliberate misleading information designed to push forward an agenda
which we may not agree with. The very act of writing this paper is dependent upon education. Education provides the basic elements of grammar (putting letters into words, sentences, paragraphs,etc.) and the broader elements of understanding circumstances, events and ideas. Will this "snowballing" effect of building on past knowledge increase at such an exponential rate that we collapse under our own technological advances by not being able to match the accelerated rate of expansion? Are we equipped to foresee the implications of these advancements? or are we driving headlong into an abyss? What have we really gained by the ease with which we can communicate now, for instance? Are we happier? If not happiness, what is our goal? To be powerful? In order to do what? These are difficult questions.
When I began writing this paper, I had no idea where it was going to lead me. I could not have predicted that I would end up at the point where I am at now. I cannot help but see this (circumstance) as a correlation to our state as humans. The best answer that I can come up with, at the moment, is:"You need a busload of faith to get by", as songwriter Lou Reed says.


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