Education is a wonderful thing

Yes education is a wonderful thing.

Get some.

I don’t mean the formal bit of paper that declares you’ve achieved at least the minimum passing grade on standardized testing. Those wonderful documents we wave in the air then place in a box as we get on with our lives and the utter necessity of doing what needs to be done so we can eat and sleep indoors.

More the kind of education that allows you to see sentence number two in the previous paragraph before you commit sentence number one in same said paragraph. The practical, pragmatic education of reality that lets you avoid so many mistakes and so much suffering. Too often these are the things we learn to late. Wouldn’t it be nice if they taught them in school to begin with? Instead our high school classes are an exercise in archaic academia and soldier training, and our college courses presume you already know about life and how to deal with it.

I’ve had more than half a century of learning and still regret not entering adulthood armed with useful, practical knowledge of how to cope with it. I literally could have saved years of struggle if I had, and could have sailed more smoothly through the easy times as well.

There’s not much meaning to this diatribe. It’s too late for most of us and nothing is likely to change for the others because the situation has become institutionalized, even though the majority may agree it needs alteration.

In fact what triggered this useless rambling was scanning through blogs where so many people were quickly willing to earnestly offer you what they had learned about … well almost everything. A cursory glance showed none of it was knowledge so much as it was opinion, and that is what passes for facts these days.

We have a saying “you can’t fool a hammer” and few people understand what it means. Basically it means physics is absolute, and just because you truly believe a hammer is a screwdriver doesn’t mean it will work as one. Nor does the philosophical argument that since you can use it as one (pounding the screw with the hammer and thus ‘driving’ it) that makes it so.

On more than one occasion I have used algebra to explain the relationships between multiple variables. That’s what it’s for. I’ve even taught it. On almost every occasion the listener failed to grasp the concept because although they had passed algebra they never understood it. “You don’t need it” is a frequent excuse, and yet there we were; me explaining and them not understanding. It wasn’t as if I was just doing it to be mean; there was something they wanted to understand and they needed algebra to understand it but the education system had failed where it pretended to have succeeded.

Philosophy originally meant “field of study”. It’s where PhD comes from (Philosphy Doctorate). Now the colloquial meaning of random belief supported by flimsy argument and zero facts has overtaken that definition to the point of reversal. We will declare we are PhDs not because we have contributed to the body of knowledge on a particular subject, but because we decide we know about it based not on facts but opinion and rhetorical argument.

I don’t know. I still try to educate people and get told I’m wrong because all I have is facts and data and decades or even centuries of accumulated knowledge to prove my point. Apparently if I had a lot of nonsense and ad hominem attacks to draw on I’d be on firmer ground.

But that, I will admit, is just my opinion. Not the facts.

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