“Education vs. Schooling: Are we truly free-thinkers or just well-trained robots?”
We’ve all been there before, right? You find yourself in a conversation where the topic of dating arises and typically one of the first characteristics that someone lists as a “desired quality” is that the person must be “educated.” I’ve found myself in this discussion many times, [as in the case of a recent experience I had,] and whenever this topic transpires, I can’t help but ask the question, what does being an “educated” person really mean?
The other day, I was talking with a few close friends of mine and one young lady there stated that “she will only date men that are well-educated!” She continued saying that she herself is working towards acquiring her higher education and needs to have someone on “her level.” When reading this, I’m sure most readers believe this to be a typical statement made by numerous, if not all women; however, among the crowd were several men who agreed with her statement, as they themselves also possess this same requisite “quality.” As the group continued to stress the “importance” of someone they intended to date to be “educated”, I realized that no one in the group ever really described what being educated entailed. I decided to ask my friends to explain what they mean by this often used epithet and their responses were as I suspected: someone with a college degree or higher that earns a moderate to high salary. Although I was not at all shocked by these answers, I was left feeling disheartened by these glaring Western perspectives regarding an educated person and the notion of education in itself.
Before completing my graduate program, I conducted extensive research regarding the historical and present-day institutional factors that have given birth to, as well as sustain the achievement-gap within the US. Through my examination of the structural components contributing to this long-standing phenomenon, it became very apparent to me that the ideology of liberalism, so insidious in nature, is one of the central components [apart from racism in its truest form] of this historically destructive educational trend. Thinking about the cultural philosophy within our national “education” system that equates achievement with merit and one’s personal mental acuity and higher level of intelligence, it becomes clear how this cultural value system, highly Eurocentric in nature, influences other areas within our society.
When it comes to dating, [as well as the friendships we have and those we socialize with,] the “selection process” of a potential partner undeniably reflects the liberal ethos which places those with college-level degrees or higher at the top of the food chain, while ostracizing those without them. Just think about it: when we meet someone, what’s one of the first questions that we ask them? “What do you do and/or where did you go to school?” Our society associates what we do to who we are and most often times, we tend to find those individuals who’ve obtained a “higher education” more intellectually superior and somehow naturally smarter than others; hence, they are more attractive to us! These perfunctory questions and shallow viewpoints of others are so indoctrinated and programmed within us that we don’t even realize that the choices we think we make when dating people or befriending others are not based on preference at all, but an encoded idea of what society deems as acceptable.
Thinking about the conversation I had with my friends about only dating “educated” people, in addition to many other discussions I’ve had concerning the notion of “educated” individuals in general, my question regarding what makes an educated person still remains at the forefront of my mind. From my personal encounters with people, I’ve witnessed a fundamental difference between those who are truly educated versus those individuals who are mere products of a systematized process, known as schooling. If we really sit and think about the nature of our national “education” system, we come across an organization whose approach to edifying the minds of future generations consists of a [Eurocentric] methodological process where rote learning or memorization are highly enforced and where “teaching to the test” simply to reach locally, state, and federally imposed standards govern the culture of “enlightenment” within the walls of our schools. This schooling process is solely intended to perpetuate existing power relations, while creating a society of human machines that follow the script of enforced social mores, (i.e. settling down,) doing exactly as they’re told. The flawed schooling one acquires in their formative years follows them into their adult life where they continue to acquire degrees, not due to the pursuit of actual higher learning, but merely as the conduit to “get an education, (i.e. paperwork,) to get a good job and make money!”
Throughout my life, I have known an unfortunately large number of people that have college-level degrees as high as PhDs and yet when confronted with the task of actually thinking for themselves and looking beyond the surface of a myriad of issues, it is as if they are instantly transformed into parrots or programmed dolls who are only capable of speaking in a rehearsed manner. When discussing topics, such as religion or single-parent headed homes, it’s quite typical to find people regurgitating the exact same perspectives that they’ve heard from someone else, highlighting their painful inability to truly look beyond the superficial exterior of the issue and look at the entire picture and its interconnected components. Moreover, what is equally upsetting is witnessing an overwhelming number of people who, due to their mental programming/schooling experience, succumb to the present-day existence of antiquated social customs; when someone is rushing down that proverbial aisle because they “believe” that it’s “time to settle down” or they feel compelled to obtain the “American Dream” by purchasing a house, car and all the fixings because they “believe” those things are truly a “substantial necessity,” Even the celebration of holidays, like “Independence” Day [which is a complete hypocrisy,] Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving and countless others, underscore the mind-control that enslaves innumerable members of this society. Why does this happen? you ask….it’s reflective of an unconscious person who is the offspring of a system of schooling where their psyches only respond to the messaging which has been implanted inside them; this lack of knowledge of self, one’s failure to truly know how they themselves personally feel about these issues, is the antithesis of what is means to be educated.
Alternative to schooling, when one acquires education, they are able to reflect critically on a myriad of topics and through the boundless process of creative and global cultural exploration, an individual is highly equipped with the insight and intellect to formulate their own perspectives and judgments independently. Their mentalities are liberated from the mental bondage imposed upon them to submit to and accept the “standard” or “normal” social, economic, political, and religious customs that so many fall victim to! True education is the process of exploring alternative and holistic ways of thinking, doing, and ultimately expressing one’s self. An “educated” person is above all, a free-thinker…a conscious individual fully aware of the world and all of its aspects and their emancipatory psyches are not dependent upon entering into the walls of academia where they receive a physical representation of their implicit “intelligence” and “educated” mind.
The challenge, dear reader, is for all of us to renounce socially-constructed ways of thinking and living and be intentional about freeing our minds from that which has been told to us and instead, find the authentic essence of who we are inside. When our minds become free, the veil of oppression and prejudice regarding who’s intellectually superior and who’s not, no longer exists and we are then able to truly see people, not for the superficial objects that society says they represent, but for the beautiful human beings they are inside.
My name is Lady J and I work in education reform and community development in the nation’s capitol. My lifelong passions include deconstructing the numerous “isms” (i.e. sexism, racism, classism, etc.) that plague our society and challenging people to think critically about how they are both affected by and affect others with these “isms.” My mission to ignite the global mobilization of people of African descent through mental emancipatory “re-education” models reflecting core/authentic Pan-Africanist elements will be my legacy….I Am We! Visit My Blog at http://imtyedsooverit.blogspot.com/.