High minded academics have considered education as an ‘ideological state apparatus’. In simple terms, what that means is that education and the school system is a great way to control people. The purpose of education, even though it is sold as a way to expand your mind, is just as easily used to limit it. Over the last few decades, we can see that there has been a qualitative shift in the educational model of the country.
The storage and perpetuation of information is the sole aim of education. It seems teachers’ job has become to establish authority, not to make children question it. Children are taught more than ever to be a cog in the machine, not question the existence of the machine. We don’t ask questions. We don’t imagine. We don’t truly apply our minds.
Einstein Quoted: “School failed me, and I failed the school. It bored me. The teachers behaved like Feldwebel (sergeants). I wanted to learn what I wanted to know, but they wanted me to learn for the exam. What I hated most was the competitive system there, and especially sports. Because of this, I wasn’t worth anything, and several times they suggested I leave.”
Why is this happening? Very simply, the more power gets concentrated in the hands of the 1% elite, the more they want to keep their well-oiled machine going. Elitism and perpetuating that elitism is the point. The point of education now is to create a system which takes in creative and curious children and churns out obedient workers. For the powers that be, the scenario where they have a truly aware and questioning public is not a comforting thought. They need us to not question. They need us to believe that there can be no alternative. Pink Floyd puts it much better than any of us can. Just refer to their thoughts in ‘Another Brick in the Wall’.
Some people defend it by saying that critical thinking is a fanciful ability that people are born with. Schools can’t teach you to think. At best, you might land a job through your school education. Never mind that the thought that accepting a job you’ll be frustrated with for the rest of your life is the point of school nowadays. The Ancient Greek philosopher, Socrates (one of the smartest people who ever lived), knew a thing or two about critical thinking. It was he who said, “I cannot teach anybody anything; I can only make them think.” Don’t tell me school is useless when it comes to making a fully rounded human being.
What we need is to teach students how to question. Sometimes, it needs to be stressed that asking the right questions is a better sign of a person’s development than giving the right answers. Speaking of Socrates, teaching philosophy in schools is not a bad idea. Philosophy is a method of asking questions. It trains the mind to always investigate and take nothing for granted.
Before you scoff and ask me ‘how is philosophy going to land me a job?’ let me ask you something in return. How much more different could our lives be if we do learn the courage to question. Philosophy might not get you a job at McDonald’s, but it sure will make you question why you’re doing what you’re doing. Sometimes in your own life that’s all that is required.
Lastly, our questions are possibly the last line of resistance before we see our schools become a chain of factories and retail stores; not imparting knowledge but producing packaged products called students. It’s time we reclaim our schools as well our minds from The Man.