- Education and Science»
Education Ensures Survival and Better Life
Education is a deliberate reduction of our ignorance
In a capsule, education means learning; ignorance means lack of knowledge. Now, knowledge consists of two general parts: knowledge by description (KBD) and knowledge by acquaintance (KBA), according to Bertrand Russell in his book "Human Knowledge: Its Scope and Limits" published in 1947. Russell is a British philosopher, mathematician and winner of Nobel Prize for Literature.
KBD consists in an assertion of a fact. For example, "The earth revolves around the sun."
The basic element of KBD is a symbol, like "a" or a Morse code. That symbol represents a physical thing or sound or an idea.
KBA consists of a behavior. For example, a person eating grapes. The basic element of KBA is an act. Fortunately, an act can be described in terms of symbols as we are doing now. A cat has knowledge (KBA) of a mouse by its chasing it. This is an example given by Russell. The cat is chasing the mouse without mewing that may be presumed as a symbol for the mouse.
In KBD, a person may start with zero knowledge. A philosopher said the mind is a blank. In KBA, a person has instinct: a newborn seeks food by his/her mouth.
During early age, a person may be said to discover knowledge when he is fed with KBD and shown KBA. Once he starts to seek KBD and KBA s/he is no longer said to be discovering them but deliberately reducing lack of knowledge.
It is easy to see that KBD is about facts. A fact is anything in the universe onto which existence is asserted.
For example. "A yellowish ball in the sky that generates light and heat exists." You notice the description, "a yellowish ball in the sky that generates light and heat." This part of the assertion makes it verifiable. This insures that KBD consists of assertions that are true. Any assertion that is not true is not knowledge. For example, "The sun exists." "Sun" is a name. This assertion cannot be verified. A description of the sun can be verified. We will not pursue this further as it goes deeper into the theory of definite description of Russell. Suffice it to say that if you analyze a name further it will come to a contradiction, as Russell had shown.
(I have Hubs "Knowledge Management: Go For Knowledge By Description And Knowledge By Acquaintance," and "Knowledge Management: A Sentence That Is Neither True Nor False.")
Why do we say that education is much more than a deliberate reduction of lack of knowledge?
The main reason is that in education there is an attribution of value to KBD and KBA. That is, we like or dislike KBA or KBD.
For example, "The thick layer of carbon dioxide around the earth brings about climate change."
This is KBD. Some people like this fact, other people do not like it; other people ignore it; still other people do not care about it.
Put another way, KBA or KBD can be used for good or for bad.
For example, the making of an aerosol is KBA. An aerosol contributes to climate change. For the maker who sells cans of aerosol, the making of aerosol is good. For the consumers of aerosols, making aerosols is bad. This feeling of good or bad belongs in morality.
For people who like to survive and succeed in this world morality is important. A mere accumulation of KBA and KBD does not promote survival and success.
For example, the formula E = mc2 that belongs in KBD. This is the basis of making the atomic bomb. It is also the basis of making a nuclear power plant that provides electricity. On the one hand, the formula can be used for bad; on the other hand, it can be used for good.
Greed and rivalry can be tamed through education.
In the Philippines, education is a way of deliverance. Unlike, countries in Europe, the Philippines had not been ruled by kings. Before colonization by Spain in 1527, the inhabitants were of two classes:small tribes and Muslim sultanates. The small tribes were amalgamated by the Spaniards, the sultanates remained largely intact. In fact the sultanates raided the Spanish-ruled tribes; they still had held the Spaniards as adversaries like in the old regime of the crusades. The sultanates were concentrated in Mindanao. (The Philippines has three big regions: Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao) The hispanized population were predominant in Luzon and Visayas.
However, the hispanized population did not imbibe the culture of monarchism where inheritance and property spelled one's political and social positions in society. Only a few had vast tracks of lands, who had been favored by Spain because they collaborated in ruling people in the lower ranks. These few were awarded pieces of land called encomienda or hacienda, the equivalent of latifunda in Latin America.
When Filipinos had driven away the Spanish colonizers through a revolution in 1898, the landed feudal lords remained. Upon gaining independence,. some Filipino leaders tried to break up the landed properties through land reform. However, this has not been successful because landlords control the Philippine legislative, judiciary, and executive branches of government.
So only a few Filipinos can be regarded as aristocrats in the sense of European aristocrats, about 10 % of the population. Filipinos call them oligarchs. The rest, 90%, are middle class and poor. Some members of the middle class who occupy the upper ladder turned to education as a way to maintain their predominance and to keep abreast of the rich and aristocrats in foreign countries. Those in the lower ladders of the middle class and the poor have turned to education as a way to keep abreast of progress and deliverance from poverty.
A lot of the poor are tenants, or cultivators of land that belong to the feudal lords. They are share holders. Others are mere laborers in farms, construction workers, vendors, and small traders.
A tenant family works hard to support the children through to high school or college. After finishing high school or college, these siblings should land a job to earn for the family and improve their standards of living.
The Philippine educational system uses two languages of instruction: Filipino and English. A teenager who had finished four years in elementary school is literate in English and can speak in English. Those who had landed in high school or finished high school are more fluent in English. Those who landed some years in college, or finished college are fluent in English. Most of them have landed jobs in the government and private enterprises.
Some of them have become professionals and scientists who encounter foreign counterparts and who land scholarships to study abroad. Some of the professionals are consultants in other countries and are serving as staff or chief of office in the United Nations and in Food and Agriculture Organization.
For lack of employment in the Philippines some less schooled Filipinos go to other countries as technical staff or as domestic helpers.
It is for the lack of leadership and neocolonialism (largely by the United States) that the Philippines has remained a developing country. The US annexed the Philippines in its empire from 1900 to 1946. The US did not break up feudalism in the Philippines as it did in Japan. The main barrier to true national independence and progress is feudalism. The Catholic church (80 to 85% of Filipinos are Catholic) has supported feudalism because it is the bulwark of the ruling class that supports the Catholic church. Indeed, the Catholic church is a landlord because it has landholdings in the Philippines, virtual empire of the Vatican. Without neocolonialism, feudalism, and influence of the Catholic church, the Philippines would be rich in terms of domestic national product and Filipinos would prosper. The Philippines is rich in natural resources and Filipinos have talent.
Education has served as a bridge over troubled waters, so to speak.