A culture is held together solely and only by education, whether that education is achieved by experience or by teaching.
The amount of money invested by governments in education is enormous and is in fact usually the largest budget next to armaments. With a considerable sum being spent on the education of an individual, the burning question is: Has he become educated?
Education is defined as “learning, knowing, or accomplishing the knowingness of a certain subject,” and would be in the direction of accomplishing certain actions professionally. One expects an educated person to be able to accomplish certain things in the subject he is educated in. He should be able to accomplish the actions and results that are taught in the subject. With a clear understanding of what constitutes education we can see that many things pass under the heading of education which are not.
The quarrel with modern schooling of the young is that they are not being taught to do anything. A survey of this field brings to light the reason for formal education of our youth — to give the mothers a break! So this is not education.
You cannot disassociate education from an active beingness and a role and a professionalism. Giving a person a “good education” so that he could not do anything is therefore a direct contradiction. You can’t “educate” somebody without any end in view.
The Purpose of a Subject
Take the situation with arithmetic, for example. Having no finite end in itself these days, it is almost impossible to teach and you have pupils in school doing very badly in this subject. I defy the bulk of the teachers who are teaching it to give you much of an end product for knowing arithmetic. They would say one has to have it because it is fundamental to so many other subjects. That’s all very well but now we are talking about other subjects — not arithmetic.
It is interesting to discover how adept at arithmetic one was expected to be in 1888. The problems solved by arithmetic are the problems of algebra today.
It is a revelation that this can be done and it makes a lot better sense. This wrongness is also very obvious in universities where, for example, you are expected to solve engineering problems with calculus which are solvable by arithmetic.
Arithmetic is thus a dying subject and it is dying because nobody is delineating its purpose to the student. It has become some auxiliary subject that keeps you from being shortchanged!
As the purpose of a subject falls away so does the subject disappear from the ken of man. It will die away not only in the society but also in the individual. Both of these statements are true. The first is so true that it is almost nonsense, but the latter is not nonsense and has not been detected. IF THE INDIVIDUAL BEING TAUGHT HAS NOT GRASPED THE PURPOSE OF THE SUBJECT THEN THAT SUBJECT WILL DIE AWAY IN THE INDIVIDUAL. It might have tremendous purpose but if that purpose is not being taught then the student will fail utterly in its study.
A person cannot become educated in a subject that does not end up in a specific doingness, since that person has no way of checking whether he ever learned anything. This gives the difference between a dead study and a live study — the latter has a purpose and use, the former has no use. Its use dies away through lack of need for it or simply failure to define its purpose as part of the educational process.
Studies lacking in purpose become obsessive. Someone is obsessively studying some dead subject, nobody knows what he is talking about, why he is studying it; it isn’t of any use and not of much interest anyway. The poor fellow can never communicate his subject for the best reason that communication becomes difficult: people cease to listen as it isn’t of any use to them. This situation is common in the field of education.
So for an educational subject to exist and continue to be a subject in which one can become educated, or if you expect anyone to be educated in the subject, it has to have a purpose which can be seen to be an attainable action. The value of the subject depends simply and utterly on the value of attaining that stated purpose. Where you get a subject continuing across the millennia, it is only because its purpose has gone along with it and its purpose is understood.
A subject can also be destroyed by adding numerous things to its technology that don’t belong there. For example — before you could study engineering you must have had a primary school education, a high-school education, gone to finishing school, and learned to knit — that is about the next one expects to see!
The longer it takes to approach the education, the more opportunity there is for “taxiing on the runway.” Well, by the time a person has done this for about forty-five years and finds that he isn’t off the ground, he doesn’t take off. THE NUMBER OF OPPORTUNITIES TO FAIL ARE DIRECTLY PROPORTIONAL TO THE LENGTH OF APPROACH — that is a law. This is balanced by the fact that if you don’t study something by gradients you get into a mess by going into too high a gradient. Too high too quick. There is somewhere a proper length “runway” for a subject. It should not be so long that it needlessly multiplies opportunities for failure, nor so short that it takes a person up too steep so that he ends up in total confusion.
True knowledge will give correct emphasis in a subject and only theoretical knowledge will give wrong emphasis.
The universities by this time are strewn with wrong emphasis — you can keep moving further and further afield with wrong emphasis to a point where the technology gets lost. UNREALITIES ENTER WHEN A SUBJECT TEACHES SOLUTIONS TO PROBLEMS WHICH DON’T EXIST OR FAILS TO SOLVE PROBLEMS THAT DO EXIST.
Higher education today is being given a bad name by people who are teaching subjects they themselves have never practiced. Not only tragic but extremely damaging to a society.
Absence of Mass
Education attempted in the absence of mass is very hard on the student and makes him feel dead, bored and exasperated. For example, when studying tractors the printed page and the spoken word are not a substitute for a tractor. Understand this datum in its purity, and that is: EDUCATING A PERSON IN THE MASS WHICH HE DOES NOT HAVE AND WHICH ISN’T AVAILABLE PRODUCES ADVERSE EFFECTS. That is a fact. You get the highest incidence of suicide or illness in the field of education most devoted to studying absent mass.
The simple solution is to supply the mass that is being studied. Little Johnny is having an awful time at school with arithmetic, so let’s get some apples and give each of them a number and then he has a number of apples in front of him — they are no longer a theoretical number of apples. And arithmetic is no longer a problem.
A third and entirely different sort of study reaction exists in the field of the bypassed definition — a distinctly blank feeling, washed-out feeling, sort of nervous hysteria.
The misunderstood word in a subject produces a vast panorama of mental effects and is the prime factor involved in stupidity. This is very important because it tells you what happens to a person’s doingness in any field. AN INEPTITUDE OR LACK OF DOINGNESS IN ANY STUDIED SUBJECT STEMS FROM SOME WORD (OR WORDS) IN THAT SUBJECT THAT THE PERSON WHO IS INEPT DIDN’T DEFINE OR UNDERSTAND. First came the misunderstood word or words, followed by an inability to act in the field of that subject. The restoration of the doingness depends upon the restoration of the misunderstood word, the misunderstood definition.
You can trace back the subject that produced the stupidity, or any allied subject confused with it and you will find the missed definition phenomena.
These discoveries open the gates of education. With them man can break free from the ineptitude and stupidity that has plagued him for millennia.
The whole answer is there — it only remains for it to be put into practice.