Let me start by saying I am a teacher, so I may be biased.
I have taught on several subjects - as a technician, as a Military Instructor, as a Cub and Scout Leader, as a Teacher in a Vocational College, and as a Spiritual Director/ Spiritual Companion.
I have taught on warships, during mock disasters, at the fire ground, in Australian Bush settings, in the classroom, the lecture theatre, the electronics laboratory and online.
My subjects have been many and varied from basic mathematics or knot tying to disaster management, mens spirituality and where to look for God.
If basic education were provided to all people across the planet, what effect might this have?
By basic education, lets include things like literacy, language skills, numeracy and computer literacy (since it is the 21st century). Lets also include family budgeting, cooking, sex education, basic ecology, growing your own food, basic health & medicines and a basic understanding of the legal system. There may be other basics I have missed, or basics that may apply to certain areas that need to be added in.
Reply by Ginny Findlow (prior to this discussion being posted)
Would there be as many problems if the general level of education was better? Probably not. But a lot of people do not learn through didactic discussion, plus - a lot of things re behaviour & relationships are generally learned through life experience.
I think it would be very helpful to teach some minimum skills in the last year at school - like basic communication and problem solving. A lot of people do not even know that there is a 'win-win' possibility, they think if someone wins the other onehas to lose.
I would describe myself as an educationalist, a globalist, a universalist, so I've a lot of hope for the notion that education can empower. However among the most dissapointing and deeply thrustrating things I've encountered thus far, is how the educated can still do evil, and from the point of view of premeditated acts, far more evil things than the under-educated.
An uneducated man might join an army to fight a war, an educated man will coerce thousands or millions of others believe in that cause. This is just one of countless examples one could come up with.
So I have to say ethics are key. As to whether ethics can be educated into someone or you innately have it or have not is the subject of thousands of years of debate.
In the end I think the great fight facing us in present and future is not education, resources etc. but the use of ethics. If we can act ethically whether poor, rich, educated or uneducated we can make peace in this life.
(That gets back to my original question for this group, which is really about ethical life. Presently I feel that Religion, Politics, Education, Science are in crisis over ethics. When Jesus goes to the temple, when Shakyamuni taught the precepts, when Hippocrates says do no harm, I believe it points back to this. Rules get broken and twisted but conscience is within, you can never break it or twist it, you can ignore it but the effort to do so will eat you away).
There's more to say but I'll write a book if I do, and I need to give someone else a chance.
I agree that the better educated can cause more damage, but generally I think it is the most charismatic that find the most followers.
Ethics are important but most people are ethical and in most successful societies there is a majority rule process in place. Improved education across the board has a potential to increase the visibility of the opinions of the majority.
I believe if third world countries were more educated in the areas of family planning and impact on the family budget with reasonable knowledge of things like HIV and STD's it is likely there would be less of a population increase in those countries. If knowledge of agriculture and ecology were added, there would likely be an increased ability to manage the land and provide sustenance.
If first world countries were better educated about ecology, supply and demand, sustainable resources and non-renewable resources, it's likely there would be a reduction in the use of non-renewables and an increase in sustainability.
I believe an increase in literacy would benefit everyone. It raises employability skills and has the potential to improve any single persons situation if they have minimal literacy by enabling them to learn and to provide answers to their own issues. And, as I have stated above, it has a potential to increase the visibility of the opinions of the majority, who are ethical.
I'm for you on every point about education, but I disbelieve it is by it's self a silver bullet, but maybe you don't mean that. At a personal level the majority of us just wish to get along, the majority of us might not steal a wallet, at a professional level also most people would not seek rewards they did not earn, but if you look at the world today at higher decision making levels there is no way anyone can can say all things are equal and therefore unethical decisions have not been made.
It's nice to believe, it's nice to have a philosophy but when we go out into the world we see inequality, we experience it in fact all around us. Life is un-equal. Therefore those who truly selflessly, work for others (they do exist, not at perfect being but as flawed ones doing what they can only do because they are flawed), must become beacons to those immediately around them and through cause and causation to those they cannot possibly ever meet. From that rises higher ethics and higher functioning.
We can never make this world equal, it is not heaven, so we must accept that and strive to create at least ethical society that does not take advantage of that inequality. Education as one of the weapons against ignorance is essential to that.
yes you're right Mujyo - its not a silver bullet, but it helps. A lot. Probably more than most other things. Its the first thing governments do for their country - get primary education/literacy going. The other thing that helps greatly is the deeply ingrained religious teaching of the culture - because its how the young learn values - from their extended families and community. [In this, its one of the things that defensively tries to keep them 'prisoners' in the cave allegory - it is protecting the values of the community against the outside 'chaos']
but we cant do anything to educate the world - we can only do our little area where we live [hence my message re 15yr-olds at leaving age]
what I'm getting round to saying - the thing that is the MOST influential on the young, is the state of the parents' marriage. [in our culture folk know that you need a stable relationship to HAVE babies, but at the other end, the poor teenager has likely got at least 2 sets of parents & grand-parents.] If this requirement [stability & good relationships] is missing, the voluntary 'leaving' of the cave is messed up [as Peter has attested] [Plato didnt know any adolescent psychology unfortunately!]
I wrote a little book about parenting/'leaving' of teenagers - to educate parents about the issue. Called 5 Questions. [it came out of the terrorist issue - the same thing that made kids vulnerable to becoming radicalised, is the same thing that makes OUR kids get on drugs/kill themselves in fast cars etc etc]
Its all about paradox - as usual. The most well equipped to leave the cave, are the ones that are best educated and embedded in the ways of the cave. The least well equipped are the ones who have never belonged, never been appreciated, never accepted the non-verbal rules, etc etc and who are THROWN out or neglected/left to make their own way because noone gives a .....!
Ginny said "but we cant do anything to educate the world - we can only do our little area where we live".
I would posit that by doing exactly this we can bring about a generational change. As people move about the planet, and as we interact on the internet, change will continue to occur naturally and in such a way, even great change is possible.
We may not change the world overnight, but it will change after only a few generations. Women's suffrage started as a movement in the late 18th century, it wasn't until the very early 20th century when women gained the right to vote in Australia, and only 50 years since the Aboriginal people were accorded the same right, all peacefully on the most part. Generational change is possible and within our grasp, even more so in a world of information technology and mass transit.
One day I found my self in a discussion with a teacher at a high school in Perth talking about the possibilities of education, that teacher who had a number of professionally awards and was a highly regarded department head said to me "it's pointless the care here (this area school) it is only.... these kids are never going to amount to anything, it's a nowhere school in a nowhere place".
Education is great but it depends hugely on who is doing the educating as well as who is the target of being educated. That teacher was simply manipulating the career system to her own ends - the earning of performance bonuses, anyone getting better educated by her was getting it by accident not by design.
Recently the WA education department decided to abolish the teaching of Home Economics in High schools sighting a waste of resources that can go to core subjects and other more useful things than teaching kids how to look after their homes. Home Ec. was founded as an educational tool in the 1960's. A teacher who refused to accept a 90percent failure rate in her school because the under privaliged kids and households did not care about their own education enough for the Core subjects to be passed. So she established the first Home Ec. class to provide self identity to the kids in her area and this has become a generational success. Not only that but her course was eventually adopted throughout the U.S, plus Canada and Australia. So 40 years on why is it regarded as a waste today? Kids still come from socially and economically down areas don't they? Yes. Because a program of education is only as good as the people who implement it. If the program is not supported by funding, training and importantly belief it will not succeed. It's not enough to make jobs in education, to set curriculum's etc. we must inspire teachers to believe in making difference and the EQUALITY OF SUCCESS. And we need politics to stay out of education and let the good teachers teach, or we will continue to reward bad teachers for their career models while people who see a 'fix it' go unheard.
However we've had civilization for thousands of years now and equality still seems far away. Teaching people to fish is best as the adage goes, but we need good teachers in the first place.
Sorry, I didnt see you message till today.
Yes - frustrating isnt it. That quote is disgraceful. even if kids are not academically oriented, they still have to leave home and become independant adults. That includes being able to shop [arithmatic] buy nutritious food [biology] cook it [home ec.] which is only a beginning. Then they need skills to make good relationships, avoid self-harm etc. So even if they are not going into a business or profession, they still need to know how to LIVE. [take care of themselves.] These skills used to be taught by parents - nowadays the parents dont even know how. [A significant percentage of children are being cared for by grand-parents these days, because their parents are incapable, through drugs and/or alcohol.]
It's all very sad. I suppose while the government has no money, the only folk left to pick up on these jobs are social services & church. Prevention would certainly be better than cure! [ambulances/cliffs etc]