The Paradox Of Education
According to the textbook definition, the word education is defined as “the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university.” This is indeed the general perception as most of us believe that it is the knowledge of textbooks and class assignments that educates us.
At the age of 4 or even younger, a child is expected to start this journey of learning. If not, you’ll even have the milkman asking your parents, “Isn’t the kid starting school any time soon? She seems pretty big now.” A personal anecdote, trust me. The well-known routine begins by waking up every morning with extreme hassle, being hurried around the house to change into fresh clothes and finishing up their breakfast. Finally, the kids are pushed out of the main doors with their backpacks barely hanging off their tiny shoulders as they hop on to their respective vehicles. The same kid that excitedly ran around the back-to-school supplies aisle, picking his favourite stationary with bright cartoon characters just a week ago, was now dozing off during the 15 minutes drive with an expected dramatic breakdown as the gates of their kindergarten begin to show up. So, the question we ask here is: what happened in that one week?
Without any specified statistics, let’s think of all school-going children we know of around us. You ask them regarding their studies, and here comes the famous nose scrunch and the head shake in extreme disapproval. You can also expect the occasional “I hate it!”. They will justify this by explaining how boring the classes are, as they have been forcefully dragged out of the comfort zones of their homes, and being bombarded with strictly imposed tasks. Of course, others negate this but that’s because they go to institutions where a ‘playgroup’ – the first class a newcomer goes to mostly at a younger age, someone even 2 years old can be found is actually regarded as a stage of education where a group of children get to play while learning the basics. They aren’t getting homeworks and being forced to memorize the alphabet, or giving exams.
The Dilemma of “Should Know Everything”!
As ridiculous as it may sound, this is a common occurrence in our Asian countries. I will talk about Pakistan, because nothing is more poignant than a personal experience, right? So, I started kindergarten considerably later than others, and was put two grades back because I couldn’t name the Urdu titles given to paternal relatives properly during my admission test. My argument now is, how is a child who has never had a chachu expected to know of one? Anyways, I’m not going to get into the unfortunate state of our education system this time around. The purpose of my writing is different.
Education is unconfined. The process of learning and knowledge cannot be restricted to pre-planned school lectures and content of the local curriculum. Knowledge is all around us, and we absorb and reflect it in our personalities in everyday life without even realizing. In fact, the study of sociology introduced a phrase ‘primary and secondary sources of socialization’ in regard to this. How we behave with other human beings, is also a learned trait. Before being introduced into society, education starts at home.
From the moment a baby is born, and throughout their childhood, they observe the behavior of their parents and other individuals present around them, and visual learning plays a major role in this stage of their development. Jean Piaget, a Swiss psychologist who particularly worked on child education, in his ‘cognitive development theory’, introduced that symbols and observance are key factors in knowledge attainment during the peak of development of a child, further supporting the view of the sociologists. For instance, if parents are engaging in healthy hobbies such as daily workouts along with their children, it will be learned that this should be followed in the household as a family activity instead of a fixed command from the adults.
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Influence is an uncontrollable attribute of our society. With the rise of accessibility and abundance in resources in our era of information technology, traditional institutions do not hold the significance they did previously. Schools used to be major sources of secondary socialization, as students interacted with their age-fellows and educators to develop social behaviors and attitudes. However, everything has been digitized.
In his book The Robot Factory, author Joseph Ganem states: “In the 21st century an educational paradox confronts us. Knowledge is abundant, nearly free, and can be accessed without memorization. Nonetheless, the value of an education across many quality of life dimensions is increasing. Educated people are becoming increasingly better off, while at the same time, much of the valuable work traditionally performed by educated people is being off-loaded to computers. To understand these trends, we must move beyond the argument that education is simply the acquisition of certain attributes in order to succeed in the modern economy. These arguments fall short because they view education solely in terms of knowledge and skills that can be tested and ignore many dimensions that cannot be easily quantified.” Basically, the mediums of knowledge have evolved.
Youngsters are more likely to defy traditionally imposed values and customs that were blindly followed by their ancestors to a certain extent. Don’t we commonly hear our elders say, “Nowadays, kids are so rude. We always listened and implemented on the commands of our parents and teachers.” Of course, it’s a bad indication of character to argue, but it is occasionally seen that the younger is not even allowed to correct an older person based on facts. Certain absurd societal rules are slowly being rejected by the youth, as they have learned to take a stance for themselves where they deem fit. Here, traditionalists would argue that we are losing our culture, and giving in to the Western perspectives of ‘modernity’.
However, it is safe to assume that such traditions have to be overthrown for us to develop and progress in current times. The reach of the internet is non-calculable. Though there is an obvious negative impact of it being occasionally highlighted, yet various examples of communities and previously restricted individuals blossoming beneficially at-present have proven that indeed new mediums of education and knowledge are serving the purpose for a greater change. This is needed.
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