Education, and the ideal upon which it is built, has failed. With climbing tuition fees, ever-increasing class sizes, and overwhelmingly high graduate unemployment rates, it seems students have been forgotten in the educational standard. This is not to say the system upon which education is built is unsuccessful, however. It works exceptionally well. Proficient even. Teachers teach. Researchers research. Professors do a little bit of both. Instead, the problem arises because education centralizes itself around learning. Simply said, the two are not the same – no matter if a student is taught otherwise.
Often people assume to be educated is to be learnt. In fact many see a Ph. D., or a Master’s certificate, or even an undergraduate diploma as an outstanding accomplishment in learning. It isn’t – or at least, not exactly. While it is true that such degrees stand as an investigation into the workings of this world and often venture into the very depths of what it means to know, they paradoxically become a way of understanding more and more about less and less. Through continual specialization, people narrow their interests until they are educating themselves about nothing at all. Education causes one to learn about a small corner of the world, only to forget that the world is a sphere.
This, of course, is not inherently bad. Specialization is needed in a diverse world, not to mention it is simply not within one’s capacity to know everything anymore. However, education neither fosters development nor enhances a desire to know. It becomes an ending, a goal, and eventually, a job. Education becomes both a means to an end and an end to a means.
This is not to say that education’s role is to be diminished or shamed. In fact, I foresee myself eventually pursuing a Ph. D. But my hypocrisy, and the current structure of education, is not a manifestation of learning. To learn is to not be satisfied with any conclusion, goal, or job. It is to persistently ask why. It is to wonder. It is to toss at night with bafflement. It is to question everything and accept nothing initially. Essentially, learning is like taking one’s first steps: we must first hesitantly crawl before we can walk, and even then it is only inch by inch by inch.
What is to be done then? Is there a way the two can merge?
Right now, I do not have the answers. It’s not because I lack them. Nor because I cannot find them. It is because I was never taught them in school – and for 16 odd years, education has been all I’ve ever known.