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The Illusion of Education

We had fed the heart on fantasy,

The heart’s grown brutal from the fare.

                        William B. Yeats

     “For the truth is,” wrote Jose Ortega y Gasset, “that life on the face of it is a chaos in which one finds oneself lost.  The individual suspects as much but is terrified to encounter this frightening reality face to face, and so attempts to conceal it by drawing a curtain of fantasy over it, behind which he can make believe everything is clear.”

      Winning is all that matters. Morality is irrelevant. People have their own logos, uniforms, slogans, them songs, cheerleaders, and other badges of communal identity.  They all are striving to be unique but all they accomplish is being like everyone else.  All that matters is their own achievement.

     Plato in The Republic, imagined people chained to the wall in an underground cave. The cave is their total reality. One person escapes and get out.  He comes back and they despise him. The world is no longer simple shadows on the wall, but complex and messy…they ridicule him and swear never to go into the light lest they BE BLINDED as well!

     Plato feared the power of entertainment, the power of the senses to overthrow the mind, the power of emotions to obliterate reason.  No admirer of democracy, Plato said that the enlightened or elite had a duty to educate those bewitched by the shadows on the cave’s wall, a position that led Socrates to joke: “As for the man who tried to free them and lead them upward, if they could somehow lay their hands on him and kill him they would do so.”

     We are chained to the flickering shadows of celebrity culture, the spectacle of the arena and the airwaves, the lies of advertising, the endless personal dramas, many of them completely fictional, that have become the biggest part of news, celebrity gossip, New Age mysticism and pop psychology.

      Daniel Boorstin writes that in contemporary culture the fabricated, the inauthentic, and the theatrical have displaced the natural, the genuine, and the spontaneous, until reality itself has  been converted into stagecraft ( think education or politics). More and more Americans are living in a world where fantasy is more real than reality.

      He warms: We risk being the first people in history to have been able to make their illusions so vivid, so persuasive, so “realistic: that they can live in them.  We are the most illusioned people on earth. Yet we dare not become disillusioned, because our illusions are the very house in which we live; they are our news, our heroes, our adventure, our forms of art, our very experience.

       Our system of learning is fatally flawed and had created a people and a culture that serves and sees only itself. Few make it through the learning process intact, equipped and ready to take on the challenges of the day.  They have learned now to think and reflect, correct their ideas and thinking without becoming part of the “herd.”   God forbid if my iPhone did not work, the world will come to an end.

       Are you happy being in the cave, or are you making you way to the light!

I have come to love learning but education sucks!

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