Argument for and against Education
Argument for and Against Education
Education is a basic human right and an important component in the development of individuals, communities, and countries. However, it has experienced major transformations over the years, as human knowledge diversifies and their cultural and social structures become more complex. This has resulted in newer models of educational systems in different countries. Changes in society are continuous, and this poses a challenge to education, and the role it plays in society. Amid all the transformations in education, the role and quality of education in today’s societies continues to evoke great debate. In this paper, the concept of education will be addressed from a scholarly point of view. An argument will be presented whether education is of value in the modern society or not, and finally the most convincing position will be taken and elaborated.
The concept of education closely relates with knowledge, as one leads to the other. However, the main difference between these two is that, education is a formal process, while knowledge is an informal process. Formal educational institutions such as universities and colleges are the main source of education, while knowledge is gained informally through various life experiences. Education aims at advancing knowledge for application to different life situations, while knowledge includes all the facts acquired from life experiences, social interactions, or extensive readings. Knowledge is self-taught, has no set of rules, while teachers teach education, and has rules and a clear-cut curriculum.
Both education and knowledge are paramount in society today. Turning back the pages of history to the primitive societies, we can identify many differences between the primitive societies and our modern society, which are all due to the differences in the educational levels. This makes us realize the need of education in society. Educational institutions have been instrumental in propagating education among the populations in our society. These are therefore the determinants of the quality of education in any society. It is clear that education is essential in society; however, there are arguments on why the society today does not need an education. Such oppositions of education are because of the numerous ineffective educational institutions existing today. These educational institutions have compromised the quality of education and have only opened people’s eyes, but completely closed their minds. This is a worrying situation, as today’s education systems have not achieved their full potential of empowering people’s mind and soul. Our education systems therefore play an important role in hindering the purpose of education today.
Nonetheless, education is the main factor that encompassing our lives today. It is instrumental in the stimulation of the human mind, as well as turning inquisitive minds into intellectuals. Institutions of higher learning advance the intellect to a higher level, providing them a deeper understanding of the world around us. The benefits of education are all encompassing, including intellectual, social, and emotional benefits. However, Veblen (1957) argues that in the business world, there is no need for education, basing on confessions of prominent business people, who regarded higher learning as a hindrance, which does not help anyone with successful business aspirations. To him, the money culture, and customer-oriented pervasions of education values have commodified education, measuring its worth by monetary units. This reduces education to nothing, and prevents students and teachers from pursuing knowledge freely, as they only pursue academic credits.
Commodification of education in the institutions of higher learning today is an issue that has portrayed education in a negative life. This is what makes most people argue against education today. In today’s age of financial greed, many institutions of higher learning aspire to prosper academically amid competition from other similar institutions, and pressure from the reduced government funding. This forces universities to regard themselves as non-profit business bodies out to make maximum returns in order to enhance their dignified survival. In this economic turbulent era, institutions of higher learning have adopted many business strategies in their operations. First, universities today market themselves like other business bodies do. This is gross, and is like churches considering worshipers as their customers. Under this consumer-oriented logic, students are regarded as customers, who consume teaching services of the providers of education. Trainers treat students with extra care and yield to their needs, as they are customers of the universities. The job of the institutions today is to please students. In this case, they pay less attention to the core value of education and its benefits. In most business magazines, learning institutions rate themselves according to salaries earned by their former graduates, and the customer satisfaction of their alumni. Such self-promoting cover stories emphasize to continuing students that effortless learning can amount to huge salaries.
Commercialization of research in higher learning institutions is another worrying trend, which casts many doubts on the usefulness of education today. The relationship between education quality and corporate funding of institutions of higher learning poses a challenge to the value of education and researches by these learning institutions. With limited government research funding in higher learning institutions, corporate bodies have taken over this government role of funding researches in universities. However, these come with stakes, as they manipulate research findings in these universities corporate to suit their selfish interests (Bok, 2003).
The assault of academic values through commercialization of research and commodification of education in learning institutions has greatly compromised quality of education and knowledge today (Schrecker, 2010). Universities are ideally a place where the quest for knowledge as an end in itself is the only unquestionable duty. When business interests intrude the academic operations of universities, their ideal role loses meaning. Corruption of scientific and scholarly research results is gross, as the public is subjected to misinformation and wrong knowledge on important subjects. It seems the academic field today has lost direction, in addition to its misplaced priorities, which has detrimental effects on the people’s perspectives on education today (Engell & Dangerfield, 2005).
The role of extracurricular activities in colleges today also perpetuates business-centeredness of learning institutions. Games and theatre productions have become business ventures, absorbing resources and deviating students from academics. Scientific research in universities today focuses on trivial issues, and faculties may not disclose real results in order to protect trade secrets, and the sponsoring body. Distance learning today is a profitability venture that dilutes the relationship between teachers and students, as these do not meet physically (Bok, 2003).
Taylor (2010) realizes the inefficiencies of American universities, and asserts that higher education in America higher needs an overhaul to solve its intellectual, organizational, and financial crises. According to Schwartz (2011), the “money culture” in universities has led to disregarding the humanities in research, yet this is the heart of higher learning. Research funding is sourced for only the “professional fields” and so the humanists continue to shrink. Lewis (2006) is concerned about the extent of consumer culture in Harvard University, as this institution conforms to the demands of their students. They have introduced numerous courses, watering down the curricular, and contributed to perpetration of irresponsible behavior by enrolling students involved in criminal activities. He calls for change in Harvard, an institution known for past controversies, witnessing inflation of grades, rape cases, among others. To him, students should be given what they need and not what they want. According to Bok (2003), these malpractices in universities compromise education values, thereby putting the university souls at risk in order to gain market advantages.
On the positive side, it is evident that education, if under an effective system, contributes immensely to the development and success of a country. For instance, the United States of America, world’s powerful nation, draws its pride from its technological prowess, which was a result of an effective education system. The USA continues to spend many resources on education, but educators claim that its current education system needs revamping, considering its deficiencies.
Education provides us with guidance. It forms the essence of human actions, as people will act according to what they have learnt through instructions, observations, or assimilation. However, humans themselves put a limit to their educational capabilities by allowing economic, emotional, or social obstacles in their way. Self-empowerment is necessary for all individuals in the society. Through education, people are made aware of the environment around them, their country’s laws, their rights, as well as how to participate in governance of their country as citizens. Education also helps a person tap their talents and better their skills, as it helps them understand themselves better, with their potentials. A country benefits when its population is self-empowered, as they forms responsible, ideal citizens.
Global networking, collaborations, and mobility are an aspect of education in higher learning, as today; higher education has become greatly internationalized. There is the strengthening of intensive networking among different learning institutions, students, and scholars, as well as practitioners in different industries, and cross-border funding of research projects. Networking provided by education has unlimited advantages. It increases the knowledge of individuals as they learn new significant insights, which they may apply in their countries. Networking also expands the relationship base of individuals, thus enhancing personal development as well as career, and business improvement. New opportunities and ideas are also presented. Generally, a good education system must provide equal access to education to all. However, this lacks in today’s democracies. Hunger for money has led education systems to abandon of skills essential for keeping democracies alive, by cutting off humanities in schools. Humanities is a core discipline encompassing human existence, and so should be incorporated back in the education curriculum of USA in order for a meaningful education (Nussbaum, 2010).
Both sides of this argument are convincing. First, education is core of the society. A society with no education is considered poor. Education, through history has come with tremendous changes, ranging from technological advances, to personal development. All these are paramount in any society. Therefore, we cannot consider education as playing no important role in society. This would be a fallacy. On the other hand, the social and cultural structures are dynamic. Therefore, we expect that the components of these structures conform to the changes. Education, being a component of human social structure, has been influenced by the changes in society today. Our present society has evolved into the culture of materialism and the love for money. This culture has found its way into the learning institutions, thereby causing the commodification of education and the commercialization of researches, thus compromising the quality of education in these institutions. This unfortunate situation in our higher learning institutions is not reason enough to disregard education. This is a vice, which can be corrected with appropriate transformational strategies.
In conclusion, the role of education and its numerous social and economic benefits in society cannot be denied. Education is a known means to poverty eradication and development. Today’s technological advances and economic development are a result of education. Education remains the only basis for future development. Education programs therefore need to be fully funded, as this is a worthy investment for any country. Redefinition of education to capture its original purpose is necessary today. Governments should be devoted to providing support systems for revamping of their education systems. We need to take our educational systems to their old days, when they upheld values and served their function. This way, the function and quality of education today will be enhanced. However, this should be a collective role for both government and the public. The public should know the requirements of education, and not allow these to be violated by politicians or the media. If we silently watch the evils in our education systems without taking any actions, then we have to blame ourselves in future when all academic values are eroded. Education is a good thing; it is sacred, and so must be embraced and appreciated.
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Education,” Princeton University Press, New Jersey.
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Nussbaum, M 2010, “Not for profit: why democracy needs the humanities.” Princeton
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Academic Freedom, and the End of the American University” Perseus.
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Taylor, M 2010, “Crisis on Campus: A Bold Plan for Reforming Our Colleges and
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