Raghu's

Notes and Thoughts

Exploring the fabric of knowledge

What does it mean to be truly educated?

  • April-16-2021
  • General

On the one hand, a child with a burnt finger knows not to touch fire ever again but on the other, a grown man with so much maturity never learns to avoid the source of his misery despite the constant suffering. Who is more educated here? Or for that matter more intelligent?

The child is already good at scientific deductions in it knows what to infer from its experience but the man seems incapable, what does it say about the man? Is he less educated or is the child more intelligent?

Obviously, this is not a fair comparison you say, and I agree. You can’t compare a reflexive response like reacting to fire with the highly complicated dynamics of life you say, and I agree with that too. But by the same logic, isn't it also wrong to subject all men to the same standard and call it education? And then expect all of them to succeed in it by putting them through a punitive system that either sucks the soul out of these men or conditions them into operating within the scope of this system.

I mean how did this happen? How did we come to reducing something like education to the systematic process of incentivizing people into downloading the technical know-how onto their brains? How did we trick them into never realizing that in the name of education they were being filtered and not fostered? And most importantly, how did we convince them into believing that education despite its vagueness was a matter of convergence and not creativity? How?

Chomsky says that to be truly educated is to be able to realize that the real value of education lies not in obeyance but in autonomy. But it appears to me that by removing the personal component from education—i.e., the the sense of self-awareness—we have successfully created a culture that values consensus over cogitation, concordance over contemplation, and convergence over creativity: Basically, a world where fungibility is the only criteria, so that they can replace you with someone who is just as "educated" as you.