. Education for the Masses | London Progressive Journal
A non-partisan journal of the left.

Education for the Masses

Sat 27th Jul 2013

Education can mean very different things to different people; ‘discipline and loyalty’ can be achieved through the same method that could develop ‘irrationality and impermanence’. Thinking of the process of education as a ‘sum’ helps us to understand the result: the outcome is the answer and the adding up is the method by which you have gone about to achieve the answer. Some of us choose a simple sum but some of us try harder ones. The notion of challenge is rife throughout education in the UK, so why do some of us pre-determine our failings in education and opt for the easier sum. Is it that the education system fails to offer a broad variety of subjects? That is to say, does it undermine the talents of certain individuals?

Although acceptance, among social thinkers, of the overall result of education is unlikely, what we can all relate to is the need for people to be able to take responsibility over their lives, to empower people to make decisions that will further their path of development. For Neo-liberals, the development of workers in different areas of industry is of utmost importance, whilst for Marxists the incentive seems to be aimed towards reducing inequalities and exploitation. Both require a sufficiently educated society, but both lack a requirement for happiness in the individual; you can be equal but not happy, just as you can compete but still not attain fulfilment. People should work hard in society, but this does not mean they should work hard for the state or for a private company. What about their family? Their community?

If education served to empower people, they would be taught how to live off the land, how to clean, how to talk to other people and how to pursue their own interests. The Utilitarian notion of protecting the majority over the minority, is where the concept of education stops being about developing the ability to enhance a connection with community and nature and more to do with ‘keeping up with the Joneses’.

Initially everybody needs to learn a variety of subjects in the primary and early secondary stages of school but individually everybody will have a talent or passion they wish to pursue and schools should nurture not undermine this.

Sometimes it takes an education system promoting responsibility and empowerment to enlighten people. Some may ask, isn’t this a less efficient and more difficult procedure? How can you guarantee happiness? Once empowered, who is going to want to perform unskilled labour?

It is a difficult concept to grasp and apply but just as science sees no limitations in the progression towards greater knowledge, we should not see limitations in advancement towards empowerment in education. Nor should we put money ahead of future development.

Like investors, risking a little money for the possibility of a big return is worth it even if you begin with a shortfall. You are never able to guarantee happiness but you can enhance personal responsibility and when you have this, people have the tools to shift their aims towards their wish for happiness. If everybody had knowledge on how to clean, cook and grow we could help people move away from unskilled jobs to empowerment through knowledge. Even so, some of us may even enjoy the prospect of cleaning, cooking or growing.

Creating jobs for the sake of creating consumers is a shallow concept but creating jobs for the sake of interest, development and passion is key to uncovering the true creativity of human nature.

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