On A Philosophy of Education
It is the whole Einstenian proposition that if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, then that very fish will leave the rest of its life thinking that it is an imbecile, which is stupid. Personally, I have never been a fan of university or college, or whatever because I am a traditionalist, believing in the old Art form of self-scholarship and mastery in the highest sense possible. In fact, there are several autodidacts in the history of the world that have mastered their intellectual destinies by taking upon themselves to develop their full mental capabilities. However, that is not to say that I despise the notion of a university, but I must insist for purposes of research and self-mastery only, that is, the production of New Knowledge and edification of the Human Soul-any aspect that is beyond those two noble ventures becomes simply a ‘detrimental sideshow of life’. So, what are these sideshows am I talking about, well, things like getting a job, prestige, societal pressure, blah, blah, and more blah, and in general systems that promote what I refer to as ‘education for the wallet’, which ultimately corrupts the soul, that would have otherwise been elevated by pure and genuine scholarship. And with that, I divide the two types of education systems which are here in Kenya and the world-over-‘Functional’ and Pure scholarship. The former signifies the type of education that majority of people on God’s green earth pursue, which helps them to drive the ‘normality of their aspirations’, such as, for instance, to get a great job for purposes of survival merely and hedonistic gratification. Whilst the latter is where the scholar elevates their intellectual adventure from brutish and uninspired ‘ontological mechanics’ to Philosophy, a heightened state of awareness, that unfetters him from the so aptly described, ‘Platonian Cave of Ignorance’ and Conditioned Ontological Functionality, to become a harbinger of some great truth from beyond the Isle of Man, the man or woman who pulls forth from inertness action of intangibility, to emerge enlightened! These men and women become the bridges through which otherwise unknown ideas pass into our realm of existence. Basically, there are those people who interact with knowledge from a secondary level and those from the primary one, and if one is to move from the former group, he must indeed abandon all sense of functional education to become a Pure Scholar (that is not to mean this type of scholar is not able to function in the world). So, the question begs, my dearest reader, wherefore do you fall in this ‘Spectrum of the Intellect’?
Diplomas of Doom: The Documentary was basically a TAUTOLOGY
Here’s why, first of all, I say Tautology to refer to the fact that it is a regurgitation of what is known in the streets and mainstream media, which therefore means that Monsieur Dennis Okari told us that which we already knew or had the slightest suspicion of if you must claim innocence and not tax your incredulity severely. So, the documentary only serves to add another feather to his journalistic cap and for mere ‘theatrical telegenics’; nonetheless, I laud him for the effort to expose the inefficiencies of our educational system, which only means that the government will move to a reactionary stance rather than a proactive one so as to ‘curb the vice’, hey if gets people talking, thereby revealing some other hidden but known facts, I am good with that offering. So, the students over at Nairobi Aviation College are up in arms, yeeeah, who did not see that coming, but tsk, tsk, I await to see what transpires in the coming days. Our young folk and parents just need a great education system that exemplifies the self, while extending the capabilities of the many.
What can be done to Hedge against a Fraudulent Education System?
In my opinion, the First Act should be a total re-think of the education system, that is informed by the past and the future, that is both global and local at the same time, that is not elitist nor discriminatory, that teaches the morality of acquiring knowledge not built on Hedonist-individualistic principles, but rather of a Common Humanity and Pure Scholarship to extending the experience of the Great Human Condition. Case in point, Finland has got the finest education system on the planet, having developed nations such as the United States doing their homework, and so do we.
The transformation of the Finns’ education system began some four decades ago as the key propellant of the country’s economic recovery plan. Educators had little idea it would be so successful until the millennium, when the first results from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), a standardized test given to 15-year-olds in more than 40 global venues, revealed Finnish youth to be the best young readers in the world. Three years later, they led in math. By 2006, Finland was first out of 57 countries (and a few cities) in science. In the 2009 PISA?scores released last year, the nation came in second in science, third in reading and sixth in math among nearly half a million students worldwide. Clearly, this miniscule Nordic country must be doing something good. Why? Because “Whatever it takes” is the motto of the Finnish education system, and if that means providing a royal-type education to a pupil or student, then so be it, despite which background they are from-for the education of princes and princesses is a sacred affair! Even their tertiary institutions are some of the best in the world, the chances of you getting a pretty neat Research Fellowship are great, not to mention the ‘epistemological experience’ you gain from doing research in those institutions. The political good will, the societal good will, and the scholars themselves provide a sound environment to the development of pure education. There are two ways, really to hedge against, the first being above-mentioned-a completing shifting of mental paradigms that cuts across every avenue of society, from political to economical.
The second is technology; it can go a long way in fighting this singular form of corruption. For instance, a smart chip system to prevent the use of fake university certificates is being in the United Arab Emirates after it was once discovered that a black market ring engaged in the dastardly act. How it works is it uses Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) to store information on labels that can be read by the attestation department of the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, enabling the verification of certificates using a smart document reader without the need to communicate with the issuing university (to be honest, I had this idea a long time ago while still under “The System”, but alas, I was forestalled). This allows more certificates to be checked in a shorter time, as data is captured directly from the certificate into the ministry’s systems without the need to input by hand. So, the document attestation risk is eliminated.
In Kenya, there is little or none (that I know of) of investment towards eliminating this vice in terms of business investment or technological solutions that are involved in mitigating risks associated with staff hiring, issuing work permits, vendor selection, and student fraud in any form. Having an efficient ensures thousands of applicants undergo verification to identify hundreds of red flags thereby contributing in saving invaluable reputation of esteemed clients, not to mention the financial burden of document attestation fraud. Efforts should be focused on fostering awareness about the risks and providing free and unique technological solutions to make background verification process faster, more organized and hassle free.
A university or college from the original purpose was to create a community in which both masters and students would engage in intellectual camaraderie, without the influx of these modern intricacies that make it difficult for people to get the best education, failing not to mention the development of the full self. If Kenya does not address these key concerns, then it would be best for people to understand what Isaac Asimov, one of my favorite author said, “self-education is really the only education there is.”