Don’s Diary (Education)

Does anyone seriously believe that the advantages of education alone render us fit members of every well organised society? Well, that’s what we have all been told. This is a big claim and one which deservers further contemplation. If you were to accept the ritual statement you would exclude more than half of our society which is clearly nonsense and elitist.

The key words are “education”, which is the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction especially at a school or university, and “fit” which is of a suitable quality, standard, or type to meet the required purpose. I suppose that most of us like to think that our society, simplistically, is democratic with its members compliant with the rule of law, where the traditional family unit is an important component, one in which everyone gets a fair go and where all people fit in.

My objections about a lot of education are twofold. First, here are people who hold degrees and higher degrees, a measure of education, who we all know who are just dills and cannot manage their own lives. Second, there are people who are so called “educated” who have no idea of the higher valves in our culture, the arts, music, fine arts, and humanities and so on, the things that establish our culture and our values, separate us from other animals and the “great unwashed”. They display bogan characteristics. People do not have to live in squalor, have long hair, dress as if life is one long BBQ, and be unemployed and look unemployable to be bogans.

In today’s environment education seems often to be a “popularist” objective with educational achievement measured by the degrees attained and the level often incorrectly equated with a superior intellect. Such people certainly have not been rendered “fit members of every well organised society” by their education. They have not been the beneficiaries in their period of learning of enlightenment of the way our society should best work, edification of and the development of the culture of our way of life and social refinement. Many will simply have been skilled technocrats at best with now redundant capabilities, laziness and complacency.

I would have no difficulty with our teachings if the form of education that we are invited to contemplate is as described by Arthur W. Foshay, an American academic, in 1991 who said:

“The one continuing purpose of education, since ancient times, has been to bring people to as full a realization as possible of what it is to be a human being. Other statements of educational purpose have also been widely accepted: to develop the intellect, to serve social needs, to contribute to the economy, to create an effective work force, to prepare students for a job or career, to promote a particular social or political system.”

However, in its present form I think that our statement is simplistic and an overstatement, but one that is likely to remain unchanged because it is “popularist”. It is what people want to hear.

Yours fraternally,

Don Paterson