No. It’s all about education, education, education.
And probably not that either.
Education is the most didactic form of a very important thing: learning. Education is a system through which learning can be squeezed into brains. Like one of those play dough factory things, only in reverse, and with more complicated shapes that half moons.
Education as we know it was designed as an offshoot of the industrial revolution to teach children how to be on time and focus on one boring task at a time. Thankfully many of the people involved in this system it are actually people quite into the idea of learning, so some useful information is still imparted.
But it is largely very much about being a cog in the machine.
I get the impression it used to be the case that university was about breaking out of that. You educated until you were ready for the factory line, and if you were more privileged you got further and got some other ideas too.
Unfortunately, the industrial revolution model doesn’t quite fit the world we’ve got, so now university is all about economic viability too. Maybe it changes if you go into post-grad. But I wouldn’t know, I was already becoming restless when I finished my bachelor’s.
And now I am watching my brain slowly wither away.
Education is what takes over our lives while we’re trying to grow up. I found school largely hellish, but largely because of the people who didn’t really want to learn, and also my ability to stress myself out. These are still my two biggest problems, but in very different ways.
I remember a broken night of panic. One of the first times I actually couldn’t sleep for a whole night. I was trying to revise for the ‘maths challenge’, some bullshit certificate that you got if you answered a load of esoteric maths questions in exam conditions. This wasn’t important, it was just one way of ‘rewarding’ the particularly smart. After a night of madly scratching out symbols I didn’t understand onto paper, and then a brief nightmare about a Dennis Potter telly programme, I didn’t do too well at the actual test.
Basically, the education system taught me how to have panic attacks, insomnia and a general sense of all pervading fear.
Luckily, somewhere along the way dope taught me how to talk to people (and bought a whole raft of new problems with it), and now sometimes I’m happy and not so crazy.
Can we fix the world’s problems with education, to return to what was probably the actual question?
I don’t think so. But it’s the current best fit to try. We need people to learn and pay attention. Our education structure is not built for that, but it could be.
And the people in it? That’s what they want, I suspect.
Learning begins at home, and ends at the edge of the universe. Or maybe death. It depends which you reach first.
Illustration by Jaime.