What dreams may come: The Educational Debate.

The world that we live in has become more and more diverse. This is now the era of data and communication, and it has expansively increased our global knowledge, as well as induce us to become more conscious with our surroundings. The shift in paradigm also affects education. Well, at least on the need of it. And the readily-available-information society provides windows to other countries’ culture, where inevitably we compare to our own.

– In Sweden, for example, kids starts their formal education at around 5 years old, as opposed to most other countries where kids as young as 2 years old are already in kindergarten.
– The Asian culture of parenting exposes the world to ‘tough love’, where driving kids to the ground with extracurricular activities and academic achievement has been long believed to be important to the future success of their kids.
– The amount of student enrollment in tertiary education has, however, plateaued recently in a number of first and second world countries. (I will expand on this later in the post)
– Ratio of women to men in tertiary education has been increasing of late. Similarly the ratio of students above the age of 30 partaking in tertiary education.

That last point has endearingly reminded me of Patch Adams.

Robin Williams’ death has saddened a lot of people around the world. Understandably, he was a brilliant actor/comedian, that has brought us laughs, tears, and memories that will last for a very long time. I am a Williams fan. The reason I linked him into this post though, is because oh how he made himself an advocate for education through his movies.

Along with Patch Adams, there was of course ‘Dead Poet Society’, ‘Good Will Hunting’, and of course ‘Mrs Doubtfire’. Not only do they emphasize the importance of education, but how intertwined education is with life.

A quote from ‘Dead Poet Society’ – “That you are here – that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?”
This movie and quote thought us not only on the importance of education, but also the power of it. To be a part of society and the human race is important, but not as important as contributing to them.

This brings me to my earlier point of the amount of tertiary enrollers having plateaued. Why would some of us still not understand the importance of education? It is shocking that this debate still exists in today’s society. Yes, everyone is different, and not everyone shares the same path or vision in life. Some of the arguments that exists are:
– We don’t need a bachelor degree, half our parents never had it.
– Experience trumps any educational qualifications
– Only a small percentage of what we learned in school are actually applicable to our present job description
– It’s a lot of years of opportunity cost better used to earn money

The reasons above are narrowed down to a particular demographic that has the means for higher education but choosing not to do it. And to me, that is a F*@# You to 3rd and 4th world countries where education is still a luxury or a dream to some. Their chances of tertiary education is somewhere around 1 in a 1000, and even then it would be through scholarship and a lot of pure dumb luck.

So, maybe I should not talk about the less fortunate, as I am not one of them. Maybe, you’re right. But, all I am doing right now is putting the debate out there. Along with my opinions of it. For I strongly disagree with the reasons above, for not pursuing higher education. To me, it is a narrow sighted view of education based on ‘self’. Discarding an education opportunity for money making and other priorities are Fool’s Gold! Yes, education doesn’t provide us with all the answers in life and work, it doesn’t simplify or add to our wealth directly. With or without education, life is still what we make of it.

Education is much more than that. It is validation of your privileges, a box of tools you need to make a difference, it equips you with your search of knowledge and self importance, and a badge of honor that can’t be taken away from you. We must remember that very little is guaranteed or given in life, but if we are amongst the lucky ones to be able to consider education as one of those few guarantees, we better damn well take it.

Lastly, on Mr Williams. You will be sorely missed, but rest assured your legacy will be too much to ignore and forget. Choosing my favourite Williams movie is not an easy task. But, I will have to opt for ‘What dreams may come’. It wasn’t a blockbuster movie, and thus not a lot of people would remember or even have watched it. Maybe because he wasn’t even funny in it. It was a movie of the power of love, faith, and not giving up. It was also the only movie which ended with him in heaven, having conquered all of his battles, and being in a happy place with his loved ones.

I will end with another famous quote of his;
From ‘Patch Adams’ – “You treat a disease, you win, you lose. You treat a person, I guarantee you, you’ll win, no matter what the outcome.”

All of us are born humans. But not all of us understands the human spirit, nor the meaning of humanity.

Thank you Robin.


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