What’s missing in education?

Education is supposed to prepare individuals for life.  Originally, education was about learning to read and write.  It was about providing the basic skills that are needed to advance ourselves in the world.  Education has evolved since then to more in-depth knowledge.  Many children and parents wonder how quadratic equations, Christ imagery, and the French Revolution could possibly relate to their everyday lives.  

As the world has become more and more diverse, the available career choices have expanded from farming and hunting to a variety of different options.  Vocation skill training has come along to bridge the perceived gap between education and life preparation that seemingly developed.  Whether vocation skill training, in the place of general knowledge, is a benefit to the individual in the long run and society in general is yet to be seen.  

From the general knowledge taught in higher education is the concept of a “well-rounded” individual has evolved.  In reality, “well-roundedness” is the ability to think abstractly.  There truly isn’t much benefit to knowing the details of the French Revolution other than perhaps for a round of Jeopardy, but with such knowledge, parallels are drawn with the real world.  These parallels are not in the form of witnessing a victim fighting back from a mugger and relating that to the French Revolution.  The understanding of the French Revolution and all other revolutions create an abstract and theoretical vision of the consistency of a revolution, and the parallel is drawn to that abstraction.  The same applies for the pythagorean theorem, and all other forms of “well-rounded” knowledge.  These parallels prove invaluable over the course of an individuals life.  

Despite the need for this theoretical thought process in our lives, vocational training is equally important for that segment of the population that is critically dependant on immediate income.  This development in education is important but should be used on an as needed basis and only after the foundation of theory has been set.  As an example of what not to do, my high school had auto-shop and machinery as electives.  At the age of just 14 or 15, these individuals were already being given vocational skills at the expense of theory, ultimately pigeon holing them into a certain life.  

Through all these years, there is still one critical aspect of life that is being neglected in education.  If education was designed to prepare the individual for life, then it has failed to incorporate philosophy and, by continuation, religion.  I feel the reason is that an extensive study of philosophy is the perceived disconnect between philosophy and everyday life.  If the French Revolution lays a theoretical foundation, then how could the Republic, The New Atlantis, or Spinoza’s Ethics not do the same?  

Ultimately, societal life itself has shown us why this is needed.  While everyone knows that teenagers go through a depression, is this depression not philosophical in nature?  This depression ultimately leads to the independant philosophical thought found in college, which vocational learners typically miss out on.  But this independant discovery is usually unsophisticated and repeats the discoveries of philosophers two thousand plus years ago.  The so-called mid-life crisis is another example of a depression that ultimately hits most of society in some form.  All such negative thought processes are a result of the gap in knowledge that philosophy and religion have tried to fill for centuries.  They are a search for the “meaning and method of life” which has always been the focus of philosophy.  We say that “those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it.”  The same is true for philosophy.  

With a detailed knowledge and understanding given at a young age, all future thought could be built on that foundation.  Considering, how large a percentage of society has gone through these searches for meaning, it is hard for me to understand how education has gone so long without filling the gap.  In the Republic, Plato’s ideal society is led by philosophers, and the leaders of society are given philosophical training.  I believe this training is as fundamental to life preparation as any other and should not be denied to any.  

I for one, wish that my education had included a detailed philosophical study.  I probably would have written these articles fifteen years ago and would be that much further along in my journey.

4 thoughts on “What’s missing in education?

  1. Excellent.Need more writing like this to understand education,it’s nature and necessity.Without understanding education properly both personal and societal development must be delaied or will be accidental.
    Thanks.
    Manzoor

  2. Teaching of philosophy and religion would only confuse children… Which is why you can choose it for under-grad (at an older age- when u can handle different thought proccesses).

    I think kids should be taught to love learning and to keep wanting to learn more. God-given curiousity (look at a 4 year old) is the best instinct that a child can retain all through life 🙂

  3. Nothing happens in a vaccuum, and it is also true with philosophy. Philosophy comes out of a person’s world-view or pre-suppositions. It is an established fact of logic that Greek philosophers understood 2000 years ago, that there is no way to “prove” anything – the Münchhausen Trilemma.

    Simply put, the trilemma is a breakdown of all possible proofs for a theory into three general types:

    * The circular argument, in which theory and proof support each other
    * The regressive argument, in which each proof requires a further proof
    * The axiomatic argument, which rests on accepted precepts

    All of these are unsatisfactory, and demonstrate that absolute “truth” has to be revealed, and cannot be discovered. The first two are clearly inadequate. Regarding the last one, mordern Mathematics has made huge strides in logic. The most significant results in this field in the 20th century is “Gödel’s incompleteness theorems”. The following rephrasing of the second theorem is very unsettling to the very foundations of mathematics:

    If an axiomatic system can be proven to be consistent and complete from within itself, then it is inconsistent.

    So, it is now an established fact that “absolute truth” has to be revealed, and cannot be discovered. In other words, it is impossible to “reason oneself into the truth”. How refreshing it is to hear Jesus say “I am the way, THE TRUTH and the life, no one comes to the Father but by Me” (John 14:6). The Biblical world view is completely consistent with all I have learned/read in Science, Mathematics and Philosophy.

    I would encourage you not to think that logic is the be all and end all to determine the purpose of life. It has been formally proven to be inadequate. Instead, receive God’s revelation with humility. God says: “Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.” (1 Cor 1:20,21). Paul’s statement 2000 years ago that “the world did not know God through wisdom” has now been proven to be true (because the contrary is impossible). The Christian message is not “folly”, but only appears to be so. In reality, the Bible says: “we preach Christ crucified … to those who are called, … the wisdom of God (1 Cor 1:23-24). “we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a … hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory” (1 Cor 2:6,7).

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