Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Redefining Education

by Alfie Perry-Ward

It is an induced myth that the purpose of education is to conjure up free thinking individuals capable of challenging power and having the confidence to question what they have been told to be truth. In fact, Historically, institutional education has been manipulated to serve the interests of those who rely on political and cultural conservatism in order to retain and consolidate their power.

It is easy to draw countless examples of educational manipulation from periods of history where totalitarian regimes arise. Among these, the Stalinist and Nazi regimes seem to be the most appropriate examples. However, it would be wrong to omit the current the European education systems of this crime that is so prevalent if we make the effort to no longer conceal the relationship between education and power.
Education systems, more importantly higher education systems, in mainland Europe, America and the United Kingdom were designed, developed and implemented by those who simultaneously designed, developed and implemented the political, cultural and economic reality of western civilisation. In other words, the higher educational systems of western society have the purpose of sustaining structural normality regardless of whether or not the structural normality is grossly unequal. For example, if we care to investigate the British political elite we will notice that not only do they stem from the same class, background and financial positions, but also the same schools, and universities; notably Oxbridge. Of the 55 prime ministers to date, 41 attended Oxbridge, 14 of which went to the same college, Christ Church. Surely, anyone with a belief in the principles of democracy can see that those who supposedly represent the interests of the whole country are in fact representatives of only a minuscule portion of the population.

In fact, the majority of higher educational systems dedicate huge efforts to finding more effective and efficient ways of exploiting those whom the systems of America and Europe so desperately rely on and for these people to remain exploited. This continually enforces the systems that are in place to eliminate the possibility of political or cultural change as the interests of the powerful are projected on to the powerless. Thus, there is an undoubtedly a visible correlation between the manipulation of education and the preserving of the power systems put in place to serve the elite.

Therefore, when we come to define the purpose of education, it would be insanity to think that this corruptive misuse of educational structures is the only legitimate way of utilising knowledge.  To think of another, we must first understand that education is a human pursuit, not an endeavour specific to one group, culture, race, religion or gender. The notion that education is unique to white westerners in elite academic universities is one manifested in pseudo-scientific lies. If we study the history of education globally then we would understand that Ancient Aztec groups constructed a mandatory education system for children of all classes in order to sustain intellectualism among young people. We would also recognise the Hindu and Buddhist systems of Ancient India that offered free education in advance mathematics and yielded the decimal system that we so trivially use today (it's worth noting that even though this system is around 2500 years old it included the teachings of female scholars). 

Perhaps we would also know that there are 700 000 manuscripts surviving from the Timbuktu, the capital city of the 16th century West African empire. This is more than any other educational institution from this period of history. The manuscripts have intricate detail of everything from Art and Music to Mathematics and Philosophy as well as detailed studies of Astronomy and the moon. In turn we can disregard the idea that there is an essence of exclusivity in education, which is a false doctrine perpetuated through Anglo-centric ignorance. Only now, with the mentality that education is a universal necessity, can we begin to define education. We should focus on the kind of people we want to be rather than advocate the career orientated manifesto that has been drilled into us since we entered the educational system. It is perfectly logical to enhance our technological capabilities while still remaining attached to the spiritual essence of ourselves and using our knowledge to bring about the kind of world we want to live, a world with more empathy, compassion and internationalism and cease to be taught to only serve one type of system with one type of perspective.  

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