Thursday, January 25, 2007

“Education divides, rather than unites society.” Discuss.

It is of my belief that education causes division rather than amalgamation, as is the common fallacy of our society. I quote the well-renowned poet, William Butler Yeats on his take of education: “Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.” Unfortunately, education is something that does not merely remain dormant within every educated being but is of a somewhat explosive nature and erupts automatically whether one chooses to let it or not.

“True education makes for inequality; the inequality of individuality, the inequality of success, the glorious inequality of talent, of genius,” the famous educator, Felix E. Schelling commented. The fact that individuals of our society inadvertently receive varying degrees of education consequently indicates the unavoidable class disparities amongst the public exists. A poem by Ghulam-Sarwar Yusof, The Midnight Satay Vendor is a prime example where the poet expresses the differences induced by education, especially the final paragraph:

“but education tells me I am halus, he kasar

for don’t you see I’m a Shakespeare-wallah

with this degree that clings to me like a vise

and a middle-class air-conditioned nose?”

Moving on from class discrimination provoked by the measure of education one receives, the disputes between similarly educated people can also be caused by scholarly pursuits. Some people, after receiving considerably decent education have a tendency to develop their own trains of thought and are too obstinate to accept differing views. Epictetus voiced a similar opinion on this matter: “It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.”

I would also like to highlight the astounding fact that knowledge can be misused in a huge number of ways. A Scottish author, Saki (H. H. Munro) once wrote: “But, good gracious, you’ve got to educate him first. You can’t expect a boy to be vicious till he’s been to a good school.” The ability to poison minds via the media and communication as well as the capability of endangering one’s health is in the hands of the learned. With education, one has the power to trigger wars and construct weapons of mass destruction, hence inciting division.

Regrettably, education can be considered a temptress for she entices people to take advantage of the less knowledgeable. “A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car; but if he has a university education he may steal the whole railroad,” as Theodore Roosevelt so quaintly put it. The less educated public are more vulnerable to exploitations by the so-called sophisticated people. Therefore, we can observe obvious class segregations in instances as such whereby the victims of con-cases usually did not receive sufficient education.

In conclusion, I would like to reaffirm my perspective that education divides, rather than unites society. The writer and historian Henry Brooks Adams inscribed these golden words of all time: “Nothing in education is so astonishing as the amount of ignorance it accumulates in the form of inert facts.” It is the cause and core of social problems faced by humanity and consequents in the fissures and craters hidden behind the many facades of civilization.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela

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