EDUCATION AS AN INSTRUMENT OF ENGINEERING HUMAN NATURE By Vivek Kumar from Central University of South Bihar
The quest for meaning and the ecstasy of knowledge have always been regarded as a philosopher’s paradise, since pre-Socratic era. The Socratic dictum of ‘Knowledge is virtue’ now stands transformed into Foucault’s post-modern prophecy of ‘Knowledge is power’. The history of humankind has apprenticed itself in the service of a knowledge-society and knowledge-economy. This change however has not been able to mitigate the chasm between the rich and the poor. Planet Earth still ceases to be a habitable abode to many around us, who lack access to knowledge and thus a claim to power. Policies end up in a great material disconnect, with virtual failure in all walks of life. Sagging morality, growing ethical crisis and degradation of human values are chief reasons for all ailments that the world is suffering from.
Education alone is the agent for arresting the depletion of morality and increasing ethical crisis among ‘rational’ beings on earth. Unfortunately, ‘education’ is reduced to a mere term when shorn of the structures of positive intervention and institutional access, that it may work its power through. Though the definition of education changes from person to person, its power as a tool of positive change remains unchanged. The hope to create a better society, a better world and a better future, continues to be the sole promise of education. The very concept of ‘schooling’ amounts to death of education as it means training, which is meant for animals.
Education means making men wiser, capacitating them, empowering them in a manner that they are able to cultivate their critical-analytical faculty of mind. Thomas Edison’s words are more relevant today than when they were said: “Fools call wise men fools. A wise man never calls any man a fool.” Education needs to be handled in the right way to help inculcate the value of tolerance, which is the bedrock of establishing a society where peace, prosperity and liberty would prevail. Eternal vigilance is said to be the hallmark of liberty. Therefore, the vision of a progressive future could be realised only by making citizens self-conscious, vigilant and compassionate. This could be made possible by making them wise and ethical subjects, through the instrumentality of education.
The imperative for such a vision of the world is a system of education that – through its coupling of access and quality -- can trigger off an ethical revolution. Morality is simple: that individuals are humane to human beings, animals and nature. Education must aim at engineering human nature to transform them into ethical beings, and the rest will take care of itself. Education pre-supposes initiation into an awareness of the self, and an accompanying responsiveness to differences of thought, opinion, identity and lifestyles. It therefore seeks to make humans humane by cultivating a critical consciousness of reality and a necessary maturity of character to be able to rework reality into collectively desired futures. The educated subject must first and foremost realise the value of love, compassion and tolerance as ethical goals of a future worth striving towards. The ideal system of education therefore is one where education, ethics and morality work in tandem. While education helps us to gain knowledge; ethics and morality act as guiding principles. When combined together, they will help in developing a better world where living beings will be given their due position. In the absence of ethics and morality from educational curriculum, institutions will only be mass-producing a variety of aggressive self-absorbed narcissists with little care for social-cultural-economic ‘others’. So if we need to transform intellectual narcissists into socially responsible individuals, we have to teach them ethics and morality which have been forgotten in the mad race for skill-training. The enforcement of law is not enough in bringing about a just world, since punishment can only work as a deterrence; what is sorely needed is a machinery of education that trains people to live the ideal of justice in the everyday.
The ideal system is where ideas/knowledge can freely flow in all directions and to all individuals in this marketised, consumerised and globalised world. State-sponsored education, bereft from ideological control of the state, along with the teaching of basic ethical principles can only help in creating quality education. This will have the two advantages, firstly it will reduce the cost of education and secondly, as nowhere it is mentioned that children should care their parents but the individual does so without any directions or order ethics and morality guide them to do so and hence they do it. Thus, it will help in preparing a bed rock where education will give birth to new civilization creating a better world and better future.
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