• Tuesday, November 28, 2023
businessday logo


Tell me the meaning

I implore you, let’s take a step back to ask ourselves this important question. Why do we need to go through the rigours of educating ourselves? It’s crucial because it usually determines our future. Is it to follow the crowd? To just do what everybody else seems to be doing? Or should it aid us to set our own course in life? Self-determination. Or are we driven by a genuine desire to learn? To enhance our ability to reason and decide for ourselves what is best for us? Independence.

Is it to expand the mind and give direction, allowing us to see what the undereducated can’t see or is it merely to prepare us for our chosen career? Is it to make us cleverer and more knowledgeable than before or should it empower us to be wise, to make better decisions and to have a deeper comprehension of what is right and what is just? Is it expected to positively influence our outlook on life, causing us to see things from a position of greater understanding? Is it to help us better appreciate that our way isn’t necessarily the only way, leading us to value others and their views too? This speaks to having a heart of tolerance and love as there are several ways to fry an egg and none is more right than the other. Are we to use the advantage education bestows upon us as a weapon to oppress the less privileged, the uneducated and the undereducated? Or is it meant to furnish us with a mind-set to lead them all better? Is it to gird and embolden our hearts in the midst of seemingly impossible situations or is it to equip us with the understanding that just because it hasn’t been done before, doesn’t mean it can never be done? Is it to open our eyes to the fact that things can and should be better than they are? Is it to enlighten us to the point where the proverbial bulb lights up in our head? That pursuit of the common good really is the rational way to go. Is it so we can come to the realization that it behoves each and every one of us to play his or her own part if we sincerely desire a better future for our society?

Some say education, as a life transforming exercise, should discipline the mind and as there is hardly a surer proof of disciplined thinking than disciplined action

Do we agree with the philosophical school of thought that education should guide leaders to rule well and condition the minds of citizens to pursue perfection in citizenship by obeying the laws of the land? Should it inform us of the nexus between rights and duties, privileges and responsibilities? I know many of us parents, have lectured our children time and time again about this one. All I can say is, “the Lord is our strength”.

Read also: The diplomatic ties between Nigeria and Niger: Why we must restore democracy to Niger

Some say education, as a life transforming exercise, should discipline the mind and as there is hardly a surer proof of disciplined thinking than disciplined action, should educated people not make punctuality a watchword? As further proof, should they not also do the right things without being forced to do so? I don’t believe we’re quite there yet. Correct me if I’m wrong but as a people we rarely seem to do the right thing even when we know what the right thing to do is. Many of us see rules as there to be broken in pursuit of our selfish end rather than there to help standardize good behaviour; behaviour which would ultimately benefit all. But then, how many truly care about all? Instead, we’re mercilessly ravaged by the “do you know who I am syndrome?” We flaunt our unmatched ability to flout all rules with impunity as confirmation of who we are. Funny thing is, this sickness is no respecter of persons as it plagues all classes; from the billionaire to the “brokenaire”. None is immune. All seem to have something to prove. Don’t ask me what.

Is it not one of the objectives of education to produce individuals excellent in ability as well as excellent in character? People who become useful to themselves as well as to society? Some, making indelible contributions to humanity by way of scientific advancements and social re-engineering. Should it not in the process broaden our horizons, providing us a healthy and critical outlook on reality? Is its purpose not to help us acquire the right values, propelling us to take right actions on our own? Should education not to bring us to the inevitable conclusion that without justice in the land, peace will forever remain an illusion?

An educated person should be able to ask what sort of life he wants. Should it be one of suffering and just getting by? Which may be better termed as existing than living. Or should it be one of flourishing as a human being, achieving self actualization and all that? A need inherent and peculiar to mankind. If the answer is yes, then some schools of ethical thought insist this ought to mirror our thoughts on how everyone should live too. After all, they say what’s good for the goose is also good for the gander, so how moral would it be for you to think that you are the only one who deserves the good life? Unfortunately, this is not always the case the world over but my immediate concern is our part of the world where it seems to be so pronounced. Here, the Aristotelean philosophical theory of moral weakness screams at us, reminding us it’s still very much alive. And it’s not prepared to offer us any apologies to anyone. Or what would possess a normal human being, recruited to protect his compatriots to decide instead to oppress, molest, defile and destroy the lives of those under his watch. Such as is happening at the various Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in the war torn north? What sort of mind would do that to anyone? What sort of man would unethically enrich himself and in the process sentence millions to a slow and painful death from abject poverty? Knowing the right thing to do but lacking the restraint to prevent one from following the path of self-interest is not a sign of sound reasoning. I have no doubt in my mind that education is a moral enterprise.

Some years ago I asked my daughter who was eight at the time if she could tell me the difference between a knowledgeable man and an educated man and her response struck me. She said “a knowledgeable man knows the right thing to do but doesn’t do it but an educated man knows and does the right thing”. If you ask me, one of the best ways to do right by your children is to do right before them.

Changing the nation…one mind at a time.