The Great Lie

I have not talked about this topic extensively, but it is one of those things that has always been on my mind. As I am now firmly cemented in the business world, and what I mean by that is that I am pretty far from the academic world that all of us go through, and as I get farther and farther from that world I have come to realize quite a few different things. Things that school never told me about or prepared me for, which I will get into in a moment, along with a growing problem that I am glad I am not the only person on the planet that sees as a problem.

I came across this article, and while most of the articles I post on here I am not as concerned by who wrote it as long as the content and site they come from are reputable, well mostly. This one is from Forbes, and they have quite the reputation, so I read this more a little more intently. What I am trying to say is that Forbes is one of the premier business magazines so anything they publish you know to be serious. With all that being said I found I very fascinating that they would take the time to write a lengthy piece about education and what the future looks like for academia.

I will also attach the link for my rant about academia to this post as well and my thoughts about the future. But enough about that, what we are here to talk about is what the Forbes article has to say. In college one of the few things I loathed was Philosophy class. I never knew what was going on, and constantly thought to myself what a waste of time this course was. Why would I, a business major, ever need or use Philosophy in any way. Goodness if I could go back in time would thoroughly slap that crap out of myself. But anyways, the reason I bring that up is because we read Plato’s Republic, which I am sure is a staple in any intro Philosophy class. The only thing I really remember about the book was the famous Allegory in the Cave scene, which is mentioned in the above article. For the most part I cannot remember what the book was about or the ideas put forth in it. However, thanks to the internet, that is not going to stop us from talking about it.

Of the tree ideas the author of the article puts forth, the first is a given, although I had never thought about it, but when explained how the author did, it makes total sense. In any society the subjects are going to want something more, and giving them education is a way to give them what they want, or make is seem like their needs are being met.

I think the most fascinating is that “education creates socio-economic inequality,” I for one totally agree with this and I will talk a little more about this below. I have spoken about this before, I remember writing a paper in college about how micro lending will lead to the end of poverty, or at least that is what the teacher thought. My ideas were that there will always be a poor class and those that are without. As sad as it sounds that is just the way it is unless we can somehow rewire our primitive brains to make communism work, which I do not see happening.  I have been of the mindset for a while now that education and the real world are water and oil, they do not mix on any level. I am just glad that someone else is on my side.

For his argument about socio-economic inequality I agree with for the most part, but he does say that this is also the “Great Lie” that rulers feed to their subjects to get them to obey or at least say in line. I understand his point, but I do not think that that is the case here in the US. I think there is a very real sense of if a person is born poor and dies poor it is their own fault. There are tons of stories of the rags to riches fairytale. Now is this the norm, absolutely not, but it also not impossible. But let’s take a place like Russia or some 3rd world garbage dump, there is almost no hope of succeeding beyond what you were born into, and that is just the way it is. But they are fed the same “lie” that education could help them transcend to the upper echelons of society. I think this this context it is more so a lie, than for those in first world countries. So I do not buy the great lie, except in places where it is not possible, like in a potential Communist country or basically all of Africa. I would throw China in there but their economy is weird and partially run by capitalist so they are a weird exception. So I do not buy the great lie that he speaks of.

I think that I think he is right, but honestly I am having a bit of trouble understanding exactly what he is saying. At the basis of his argument I am certain he is saying that our current education system is broken, but beyond that I cannot figure out any other aspect of his argument. The only other thing I can gather is the below quote that seems to resonate what I was saying.

What’s worse, we fail to fix things because we don’t want to talk about fundamentals and foundations. We get caught up in the shadows. We mistake the content for the purpose. We don’t ask what kind of society we want to create. We don’t ask what people need to know to participate in a global society. Instead, we ask: what skills do they need?

I agree with this statement. I do not think colleges and universities or any school for that matters give individuals what they need to be successful in the world, to an extent.

As far as his third argument I mostly agree with him, but he makes no suggestions as to what he would do or how he would fix the current system. He only states that the current education system fails to give people the skills to succeed in a global environment. I think what he may be trying to say is that the reason our economy and our world is the way it is now is because of the education we are giving. As he says if we asked what kind of society we wanted to create, then we could start making the changes to the education system. We could basically build a better society if we started asking the right questions.

We don’t ask what kind of society we want to create. We don’t ask what people need to know to participate in a global society. Instead, we ask: what skills do they need?

We need to ask what kind of emotional, intellectual, social, and ethical knowledge citizens need in a global society.

Perhaps we are too focused on teaching skillsets rather than creating individuals that will be able to create a better society. Now there is obviously a happy medium in there as people have to have jobs and to get a job you need skills or certain knowledge. To be a productive member of a global society there is so much more that is needed than a set of skills and that is why our education system is failing us. Not just at the individual level, but at the global societal level as well.

After formulating my thoughts on this article I still mostly agree with him, albeit for slightly different reasons. I was thinking more logically about how education was failing me personally in the workplace. I think his argument is that education should not only give skillsets for jobs, but it should also be a place where we are molding bright young minds for the future and building a better global society, or at least the society we want. For anyone who has ever gone to school, that is most certainly not what is happening.





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