Education is the peaceful weapon for the future
Nelson Mandela said it: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. I would have preferred that he would have said it is the only weapon with which you can really change the world, but that wouldn’t be true. You can also change the world with violence, but most certainly not for the better. There is no way around, but to accept that education is the main challenge for the future as violence is never a solution. We need far more than the type of teaching we expect from our schools today. We need to start thinking about education and that at a completely different level.
Education on a different level, not just a bit better, but substantially different. With a much broader curriculum, taught by the best people in society. Not just schooling to help you gain a place in the labour market, but education to give meaning to the individual’s life as a member of society. That demands total change. The vision is different to such an extent that it cannot be achieved through the cumbersome dealings of government. It is a change that will need substantial time and that will demand a sustainable vision of education for many generations to come.
That sustainable course is a worthwhile pursuit if we have a clear idea of what we are striving for. School today is mainly an instrument to serve the economy and government and offers insufficient to contribute to develop us as humans, for our own fulfilled life. We are being taught to read and write and given some contribution to our general development, but so much more can be achieved. The goal of the majority of our schools today is to teach people a few practical things, but the goal could be to see people grow, by stimulating their creativity and help them to become more conscious thinkers. Not by telling them what they should think, but how they can think.
If people think thoroughly about similar issues, I am convinced that we – as trained thinkers – will often arrive at compatible answers. Thinking anyway is something that is not always done alone. Part of the thinking process should also be that we learn how to discuss; now we often are forced to get skilled in debate. Debate is about winning the argument. Discussing is much more fruitful: It is the common search for the best possible solutions.
Schooling today is basically about learning some tricks and avoiding mistakes. Maybe that was the right way in the industrial age, but in post-industrial times the world needs change; new possibilities; the acceptance of new ways. That is why we need creative thinkers. Playful spirits that are not disheartened by the odd slip and who are prepared to learn from such errors.
You can’t convince people. You cannot force a conviction upon them. People can ultimately only convince themselves as and when they conscientiously form their own opinion. You can order people about, but you cannot convince them that they are acting for the best. That conviction is necessary to generate the societal commitment that will be necessary in the future. We can stimulate the creative development of people’s minds and stimulate their thought processes with issues and examples. To guide those processes we need the best people in society. Thinking is a discipline, but judging that discipline, the development of thought, demands the best possible guidance.
The best people in society are not prepared today to commit their lives to education, because it is the bastard child of government. The best people in education today can’t develop their full potential because the authorities tell them how to work and what their job is about. In doing so government uses limiting cadres. Government is an impediment to develop education – a much broader concept than schooling - to the totally different level of ambition that is needed for it to become the weapon of the future. Schooling serves today’s economy, education the world of tomorrow. That investment in the popular future demands a important involvement and contribution of the citizens of the world. That will allow education to gain the central role in society it not only deserves, but also needs. The pivotal role education needs to have to become the weapon of mass survival the future surely needs.