What is education? A communicative perspective

Picture of By Hahae Son

By Hahae Son

[mks_dropcap style=”letter” size=”48″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]W[/mks_dropcap]e talk about “holistic” education, project-based learning, and benchmarks. The list goes on. All this means is that we have replaced the true meaning of education with bland, state-approved criteria, requirements to meet by a certain deadline, certificates to recognize that you have completed certain steps in a process full of bureaucracy and impersonality. We have reduced education to a checklist of sorts, walking around with our clipboards and pens, marking off evaluations of performance, with no real regard for the mind of the individual. In short, we have become complacent. We have stopped caring. Apathy abounds.

The theme of the 21st century so far seems to be apathy. We avert our eyes from the disasters that erupt around us, too busy worrying about the limits of our own small lives, ignoring and undermining the humanity around us in exchange for superficial interactions of hedonistic ease.

The advent of modern technology has given us the privilege of real time updates about events taking place halfway across the world, in places we have never been to, places we may never go. We are connected, yet more detached than ever. Headline after headline only serve to desensitize, the latest crises are ever so lightly touched upon in a manner that was usually reserved for conversation about the weather. Why have we stopped thinking? Why do we fail to care? Why do we continue to trudge, when we are able to fly?

Ultimately, at the very base of education itself is communication. At the end of the day, education is merely and wholly communication. Education is learning how to learn, and learning why the knowledge you learn matters. Education is passing on a sense of wonder about the events that occur on a daily basis, finding and understanding one’s place in the world. Education is communication of not just knowledge, but curiosity. But, how do we communicate curiosity?

Education is communication of not just knowledge, but curiosity

Perhaps this is the reason for the recent protests at the University of Amsterdam. Students are crying out not for the lack of knowledge, but the lack of understanding. They are protesting the reduction of education to a mechanical process of churning out products that know, yet fail to act upon their knowledge. Cutting the budget impacts not only the quality of education at the university, but the quality of knowledge as a whole.

The fabric of humanity is woven by our collective thoughts, words, and actions. The knowledge that we produce, we must communicate to the greater world in order to keep societies functioning, to promote growth and higher good. How do we figure out how to best interact with one another? How do we communicate the knowledge that we have, in order to inspire others? More or less, how do we optimize the communication of information so that the recipient is endowed, able and wanting to utilize their mind to the fullest capacity?

The reasoning mind
There is a reason why the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stipulates that “Everyone has the right to education”. Every individual should have the right to question the status quo in order for effective self determination and positive contribution to society. We are the future, and it is essential that the future is an educated one.

There is a reason why the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stipulates that “Everyone has the right to education”

Man cannot survive except through his mind. He comes on earth unarmed. His brain is his only weapon. Animals obtain food by force. man had no claws, no fangs, no horns, no great strength of muscle. He must plant his food or hunt it. To plant, he needs a process of thought. To hunt, he needs weapons,and to make weapons – a process of thought. From this simplest necessity to the highest religious abstraction, from the wheel to the skyscraper, everything we are and we have comes from a single attribute of man -the function of his reasoning mind.”
Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead

While reading, one may have noticed a slightly excessive implementation of questions throughout this article. Although budget cuts may be inevitable, we maintain a hold on our free will, and the ability to think for ourselves. With the recent budget cuts announced at the UvA, what will studying communication look like? What will it become? It is safe to assume that we may still be exposed to the same information as before. However, how will this knowledge be presented to us? Will it cultivate a thirst for learning? Will we want to learn, or will we settle for “good enough”? Let us never settle in asking questions about the world around us.

Final editor: Kevin Hesp / Cover by rawpixel.com

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