Education vs. brainwashing

Technology has a few disadvantages, according to some. It has great pros, though. It has made the world more connected, it has brought down borders and it has given us access to a great amount of information; so much that we now find it extremely challenging not only to focus and manage the data, but also to separate the facts from rumors, the objective information from subjective opinions, views and beliefs.

I follow a Philosophy seminar these days, which looks at the main streams of thought from antiquity to today with respect to the world, society, nature and the human. I had done only one philosophy course during my last year in high school, but now that I am in education, the question has come back. As Aristotle believed that the same ideas keep re-occurring to humans, I am trying to see which ideas and theories existed in the past and are still around for us to learn from. Either way, as Heraclitus believed, the world after a period of time is destroyed and is then re-born. From water to water and then all over again. Or from fire to fire, depending on which theory you believed in.

As we moved from the theories of Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Ptolemaeus and so on, we came to Christianism. Very different theories that challenged not only how the sun or the earth move or were created, but also the true nature of everything, of you, me, good, evil and the entire world. Through our discussions, I started thinking which of the things we claim to know are just a product of a very well thought out propaganda or “brainwashing” strategy that results not in improving the soul and mind of humans but is leading us to a very specific direction, in my view a place where separation, differences and opposites thrive. And clash.

History is a very good example. A person that is considered a hero for some is a murderer and tyrant for others. A famous battle is seen in very different ways by the sides involved. An event, even if it happened, its reasons, purpose and end  can take different explanations. Science may be less subjective, but that again, it represents the knowledge and wisdom we have acquired until a specific point of time. It does not mean we are done and that is all that there is.

What is missing nowadays from education in most, not all, cases is exactly what will move us forward: dialogue, critical thinking and tackling the big questions. Do we all need or are able to do that? I believe so, in one way or the other we should be learning and educating our children to leave this world a bit better, to understand it and each other a bit deeper. I guess Socrates was right when he said “I know only one thing that I know nothing”. A statement that it should be perceived as a stand of life and a starting point for our learning journeys.

What do you think?

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