“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” Martin Luther King Jr.
A country is never without challenges. But it is when the most educated are failing to provide the solutions to the challenges that beg a lot of questions, as to what the purpose of education is. This can be debated but in the end the consensus will be affirmative. Why is this so? This is because critical analysis will reveal that man is becoming unpredictable by the end of the day. The community is facing socio-political and socio-economical dilemma on a daily basis. The country is being brainwashed and indoctrinated at will, resulting in a majority of close-minded citizens who follow blindly without challenging the status quo; hence comfortable with mediocrity.
And many a time have people in authority presented lies, half truths, prejudices and propaganda (consciously or unconsciously) as if they were whole truths—which people in the grassroots (both literate and illiterate), accept as total truths at face value. To resolve and manage these challenges, one needs to be educated (life-long education) and not to be trained. Why? Training is mechanistic in nature which is aimed at producing the mind which subscribe to the status quo.
Our society on both socio-political and socio-economical divide is full of people who claim to be more educated than the populace on the other divide when it comes to issues which will affect the whole nation. The symptom is when every political Jim and Jack speaks with authority on matters they lack competency in, in order to do damage control; (using fallacious utterances) which mostly exacerbate the damage being avoided.
Mostly people of this caliber, dwell on assumptions and not facts. These are premised on shaky grounds and based on contradictory premises. If the claim of being educated is true then it raises the curiosity of critical minds to question the caliber of education we underwent because of the obviousness of, a group of closed-minded, illogical propagandists we seem to produce and nurture in our socio-political divide each passing day. In the long this creates dictators and demigods who become untouchable because the so called educated failed to foresee this self fulfilling prophesy.
Education which fails to make one critical and logical is a farce. Education must make one a fast and effective thinker; who is able to think resolutely and incisively even when the majority is misled with propaganda. The educated person will never let their mind to be poisoned by half truths and prejudice. If the educated will fall in this category then we will put the illiterates in persistent curiosity of whether or not education is important and worth pursuing. For what use then is education if it is not fulfilling its purpose? For what use is education if one fails to differentiate opinion and facts? For what use is education if one blindly subscribes to mediocrity because they fail to critique the status quo? Of what use is education if the educated fails envisage the hidden truth in each scenario? What is the use of education if we are failing to solve the challenges we face when an average man in the street is looking up to us? If the educated is close-minded then who will rescue the illiterate?
To be educated is being able to make informed decisions using logically and scientifically approved facts on the ground other than arriving at a decision using try and error. To be educated is to avoid rushing into a decision and speaking when one has little information. To speak or making decision with little information is suicidal. To be educated is gathering enough facts and define the problems we face adequately so that we can tackle them properly.
Ira Shor one of the proponents of critical education, argues that empowering education is that which enhances the: “Habits of thought, reading, writing, and speaking which go beneath surface meaning, first impressions, dominant myths, official pronouncements, traditional clichés, received wisdom, and mere opinions, to understand the deep meaning, root causes, social context, ideology, and personal consequences of any action, event, object, process, organization, experience, text, subject matter, policy, mass media, or discourse”
It doesn’t matter whether one attain their education formally or informally. The bottom line is critical education opens the mind of an individual which in turn changes the perspective on which one analyzes issues. Education should be both utilitarian and libertarian in nature. If the educated is turning themselves into an ignoble being by acting basing on the dictates naivety instead of reason, then education purposes are naught.
The world over, people who challenged the status quo, prejudices, mediocrity, half truths and propaganda; were the people who saw the need of continuous learning in all aspects of life. People like Socrates, Antonio Gramsci, Karl Marx, Isaac Newton et al challenged the status quo and were able to stand on an informed ground when all others thought that the status quo was the way truth.
By surprise the purpose of education is to impart people with the problem solving skills. But what is happening in our societies? People are trying hard to mimic the educated mind when it is obvious they do not belong in the realm. One can try to amass themselves with education accolades but failure to substantiate this with their intellectual proficiency, nullify all the accolades. Because the two (education and intellectual proficiency) are not mutually exclusive neither are they a disjointed set. One does not need to herald their accolades to the populace to be deemed educated. The way one articulate issues will make the populace place you in the educated realm. The so called educated are failing to use problem solving skills in order to reduce the challenges which the society is facing when everyday they blowing a trumpet of their education.
If we are not careful, tidzayimbira mfiti mmanja. Be careful brethren! Show your intellectual proficiency, challenge the status quo. Refuse half truths; question the assumption and fulfill the purpose of education. Tackle the challenges intellectually.
- McDonald Mnelemba is an educator and researcher