UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that we’re experiencing a “generational catastrophe” in education because of school closures during the coronavirus pandemic. On the one hand, I understand why this is sad. On the other hand, if we look at how people turn out after spending their entire childhood and adolescence in the educational system, I’m not so sure we should regret its closure. In my opinion, it is actually the disconnection from the old system that will allow us to examine it from aside, criticize it, and build a new and better one.
The violence on the streets and within homes, the crime rate, substance abuse, prostitution, depression rates, suicides, all those are results of the education we give to our children. So one can lament the closure of the education system, but judging by the results, it hasn’t been a success story.
The deterioration hasn’t started with the emergence of Covid-19. It has been going on for decades.
The educational system was built during the Industrial Revolution, and its purpose was to give farmers who had migrated into cities the required knowledge to become machine operators. Over time, we added more and more fields of knowledge to the schooling system but we didn’t change the basic principle: Memorize the material your teachers tell you and that’s all you need in order to do a good job.
Somewhere along the way, we have forgotten that schooling gives children knowledge but does not improve them as human beings. That part, the one that teaches them how to communicate with other people, how to care for one another, how to be a positive element in society, has been forgotten altogether. Parents no longer teach it since the children aren’t at home, and schools don’t teach it since they weren’t made for it in the first place, so the result is that eighteen years after they are born, the sweet children on whom we pinned our hopes have become fully grown, incorrigible savages. This is why it is just as well that the schools have closed; it is yet another benefit of Covid-19 to society.
The correct education system should put the emphasis on human connection, not on inculcation of information. It should teach children that people with different views are not enemies. On the contrary, they show us perspectives that we might have otherwise missed. Even if we disagree with other people, we would not know why we think what we think were it not for the need to articulate our views.
Moreover, in a world so full of opposites, it is easy to see that just as nothing in nature is complete without its opposite, so it is with people. When we hold different views, it may feel like we are arguing over whose opinion is correct, but in truth, we are advancing the whole world to a higher level of existence.
Similarly, when we look at our feet as we walk, it seems as though they are competing. But we, who see them from above, know that the apparent competition is really an advancement of the whole body toward the next place we want to go. Were it not for the apparent competition, we wouldn’t advance at all, we would be standing still.
But children do not learn all that at school; they only memorize. This is why I am so happy that we’ve finally come to a point where we can truly educate ourselves, become human beings, not human computers. Now, perhaps, there is hope for our species.