How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy
Posted date: May 25, 2018
Education is Key
In the current global morphology, the role of education in the society remains very pertinent. The evolving society demands that all aspects of education are structured to meet the demands of the human family. With such contemporary issues in education, various education scholars are toiling to advance relevant philosophical dispositions to enable the society to move ahead in terms of development and growth. While the role of education in the society is an undisputable issue, the approaches used to meet these roles have been questioned by scholars who subscribe to various philosophical interludes. As a result, many schools of thoughts, or theories have been advanced to help understand the approaches used in advancing the course of education in the globe. This paper shall proffer a consummate discourse on the various philosophical approached on education. In a more specific approach, this work will rivet its focus on the currently emerging issues within the domain of education in the global context, is education advancing the course of humanity or has it stagnated?
Progressivism in education
While education has several roles and responsibilities in the society, the primary role of education was meant to equip learners with the relevant skills to be able to solve the challenges facing humanity in the globe. Throughout history, this has been the main driver of the initiation of education. Other reasons for education are intertwined with an individual’s ability to offer very practical solutions to the global issues. John Dewey’s assertions in the philosophical discourse of Education Progressivism affirms that indeed humanity attaches a lot of meaning to education as a way out of the global challenges. Dewey envisaged a world where the practical applications of education will form relevance to the pedagogic structures instituted in schools (Bloom, 2012). Nonetheless, there is a very progressive logical understanding of the need to orient learning to explore avenues of solving challenges that humanity face.
The current educational set up though, has come under very sharp criticism regarding its ability to implement strategies relevant to solving global problems. Scholars have incessantly punched holes on the “Theoretical emphasis” that the current learning centres pursue. While the role of theory in learning cannot be adequately ignored, it is very important to recognize the need to connect theory and practice. In the words of John Dewey, finding a nexus between practice and theory is the truest form of progressivism in education. The current global set up is embroiled in addressing several practical challenges that require “very practical solutions.” However, the current framework of education in the globe does not lay enough strategy to institute the practical aspect of learning as a modality of addressing the issues in the society (Bloom, 2012).
Humanity is obligated to ensure that the systems of education are tethered alongside the locus of “social continuity.” The element of social continuity in deeper sense infers that the systems of advancing the development of the society have been put into place. When learning deviates from following the curve of social continuity, then its redundancy is evident. Te practical obligation that any learner espouses after any learning experience should be the most important by product of the learning procedure. Perhaps, no one did express this thought more than Immanuel Kant in his work on philosophy of education. The Kantian philosophy admits that “learning by doing” should be the core foundation of any learning experience. Nevertheless, the current situation in the society today proves otherwise (Bloom, 2012).
Currently, education success is not equitable to the ability to address real issues in the society. Rather, the tenets of education have been literally replaced by the ability of an individual to pass examination. This “demotion” of education or learning into such piecemeal affairs has been emphatically equated to the ebbing quality of learning in the society today. The structure of education currently, limits the learning curve and confines it to an “episode” of passing a short-term examination. But even as the world grapples with this, the question posed is: Does learning hold any more significance in the growth and development curve? Is the relevance of learning being outplayed by the ability to pass education? In the light of John Dewey’s philosophical assumptions of education, it is evident that the current provisions of learning have regressed to say the least (Bloom, 2012).
Materialism and education/learning
The society lays a lot of education or rather learning as a means to gaining material riches. To most learners, learning is an avenue to wealth. This assumption has greatly eroded the fundamental understanding of learning in the society. Learning has been relegated as a “means to an end” other than an end to itself (Bloom, 2012). The problem with such an assumption is that the quality of the learning experience is invariable eroded. The mentality of most individuals is limited to pursue learning as a source of gaining employment.
While the role of education in enhancing financial independence is very real, the temptation to pursue education as an avenue of acquiring wealth is self-defeating. Unfortunately, this is the current trend within the globe. The society is attaching a lot f importance on how to acquire money through education that even the basic understanding of the role of philosophy is ebbing out so fast. In Kantian philosophy, the scholar generates an interesting debate regarding education and training and avers that the developing issues in the world should see the globe lean more towards training as an aspect of learning other than education. What does Kant infer by this assertion? Essentially, Kant seems to be offering a dichotomous evaluation of education and learning. According to him, learning should be more practical and activity based. Conceptually, the concept of “learning by doing” should prevail in all learning experiences of a learner. Nevertheless, this is not so compulsory in “education.” While the dispositions by Kant are debatable, there is a factual assertion that “learning by doing” should form a core learning experience in any learning setting. The relevance of this admission is that the theory based education principles, widely practiced today, must be paired with very practical issues that address the needs of the society; otherwise, the relevance of learning in the current society will be put into constant doubts (Bloom, 2012).
Many pundits believe that education or rather learning has a role of replacing the “locked” mind with a more “liberal” thinking process. This, according to education scholars is the root of all learning experiences. A keen analysis of the contemporary learning experiences reveal otherwise. As explored earlier, any learning activity, must seek for avenues on how to “substitute” literally, the empty mind (As explored by John Locke in the theory of learning) with a more open and objective mind. The paradox of the learning curve today is that it “limits” learners to think that if they do not pursue education, they have no kinship to success in life. Sadly, the success in this regard is monetary success. And so what the globe is witnessing is a diabolical shift of mentality regarding the concept of education. The world must focus beyond the economic provision if the true value of education is to be realized (Bloom, 2012).
Post modernism and education: what is the way forward for learning in the globe?
A study into the philosophical disposition of the postmodern world, in the context of education and learning, reveals that the globe has better learning prospects into the future. The post modern philosophy of education leans heavily on “Constructivism.” The elemental nature of this philosophy to the practical learning experience makes it a very preferable model of learning that will likely revolutionize the growth curve of education. Through “constructivism, it is evident that all knowledge is generated from within the “constructs of the mind.” Postmodernism precepts practically relegate the role of a teacher as the “dispenser and custodian of knowledge,” but rather a guide. In this sense, students have an obligation of “mining” for knowledge themselves. This will be a practical approach in ensuring that the knowledge generated are those relevant to the survival of the human race. What is more interesting is the fact that the postmodern educational rubric dictates that learning will be more heuristic. A heuristic learning approach is obviously more intense in terms of knowledge stimulation than the teacher centred learning approach. It is evident that the adoption of this learning template will enable the globe experience a paradigm shift in the role of education in the development of humanity.
Bloom, A. (2012). The closing of the American mind: How higher education has failed democracy and impoverished the souls of today's students. New York: Simon and Schuster.