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Is Education the Magic Bullet? posted 04 Feb 2005, 22:02 by Annabel, Peralogue

This particular question/issue/topic has been hinted at in and around the board. Do you think that education is the answer to all of our social ills? Can it cure racism and intolerance and make people into better human beings? view post

posted 05 Feb 2005, 00:02 by Wil, Head Moderator

I feel that as long as ignorance remains, it will be impossible to solve social issues. I do not however, believe that if everybody gets a college degree all hatred and racism. Education is a component of a much larger solution. view post

posted 05 Feb 2005, 06:02 by neongrey, Peralogue

While I do think ignorance is the root of a lot of problems, I also figure that some people are just jerks. :P view post

posted 05 Feb 2005, 19:02 by H, Auditor

I can't see how education can help social problems. The problem lies cuturally, not educationally. People are usually hateful not out of [i:2z12wfgh]ignorance[/i:2z12wfgh], but out of a feeling of cultural (or racial) [i:2z12wfgh]superiority[/i:2z12wfgh]. How does education overcome the situation we are in? For example the problem of educating people that all people are equal. How does education change what is culturally reinforced in every facet of life? Our society is based upon the fact that people are [i:2z12wfgh]not[/i:2z12wfgh] equal. The person who bags your groceries is not as important as the President. The McDonalds worker is not as important as your surgeon. Movie stars, musicians, athletes, politcal figures, the rich, are all vaunted above others. Western culture is all about reinforcing how unequal people are. If you think that the US and other western countries are classless, i belive yoiu are mistaken. I don't see education overcoming the huge weight of cultural perception of inequality. People only do what their upbringings and cultural forces compell them to do. If we want education to [i:2z12wfgh]fix[/i:2z12wfgh] this, we must educate people that their culture is [i:2z12wfgh]wrong[/i:2z12wfgh]. Simply put, this will not happen. I don't know of anyone who would subscribe to this type of education, which would be viewed as indoctrination. Only those who are unhappy with the system seek to change it. Those who believe themselves superior don't want to change a system which reinforces and rewards this. Education will [i:2z12wfgh]never[/i:2z12wfgh] be able to overcome culture, as culture is active 100% of the time, it shapes how we percieve everything (including education). If we want to exact a social change, it must be brought culturally, not educationally. This post is already long enough, i digress for now. view post

posted 06 Feb 2005, 06:02 by Wil, Head Moderator

H, the problem I see with your argument is that you are separating culture and education. I believe that education is part of culture. I believe that culture is not stagnant, but fluid. Yes, in western society, the president is placed above the bag boy. However, what I think many of us fail to see is what will happen if all of a sudden, all the bag boys, the people who make cars, who drive the trucks to stock our grocery stores, disappeared? Anarchy. The President may have more "value" but I believe it is the working class who are the most important to the function of our society. It seems from your statement, H, that you believe that people will believe what they were taught from childhood, and that the parent's belief system propagates itself down the line. I would ask you this: do you believe exactly what your parents do? I can tell you that I do not. My education has changed the way that I think and what I believe in. I certainly do not believe what a majority of the people that were influential to me growing up believe in. I am pro-gay rights, and pro-choice. My parents are not. The "culture" in which I was brought up does not believe in these things. Education has shown me things that I would never experience if I had not gone to college. view post

posted 07 Feb 2005, 06:02 by H, Auditor

Argued well. Sorry, i should have defined my use of both culture and education at the onset. Allow me now to clarify. Culture: [i:3mvhhtem]The totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and all other products of human work and thought.[/i:3mvhhtem] (From This is the sense in which i use culture, in the social transmission sense. Yes, it is a form of education, but i believed that we were referring to education as [i:3mvhhtem]institutionalized[/i:3mvhhtem] education. I agree in your point that culture is dynamic. No, i do not believe the same things as my parents, but they were (and are) [u:3mvhhtem]not[/u:3mvhhtem] the sole transmiters of culture to me. Peers, others, TV, radio, art are also transmitors of culture. Sure, the culture of my upbringing is not the same as the cultrure of my parents day. Hell, i can barely relate to my step-brother and sister, and they only about 8 years younger than me. But why am i more liberal than my parents? It certainly was not education in my case. My school didn't say, "Gay people should have equal rights." My teachers didn't say, "Pro-choice is the way to go!" My liberal values were created socially, culturally. I didn't read a book on the "evil's of conservatism" to arrive at my decision to be liberal. What i experianced socially, however, did change my mind about how to shape my own morality and ethics. Meeting new people, understanding thier points of view, and amalgamating them into my own understanding of the world. I don't belive it was the education i recieved at college that changed me, but the social understanding it fostered within me. Don't get me wrong, i think education can have a profound impact, if it can be uses to reap a cultural (social) change. All the intellectualism and knowledge in the world does not make someone a more understanding person. I know plenty of well educated people who are still racist, sexist, or just generally hateful. The problem of hate, violence, and such is not an [i:3mvhhtem]intellectual[/i:3mvhhtem] problem. It's not that violent or hateful people are [i:3mvhhtem]stupid[/i:3mvhhtem]. Take Charles Manson for example. It rather scary to me to see how [i:3mvhhtem]smart[/i:3mvhhtem] that guy is. All the education in the world isn't going to make that man anymore peaceful. In fact, i think its his intellectualism that makes him dangerous in the first place. The problem of hate is a social one, and it must be delt with socially in my opinion. For example, let us pretend that we are children, and we go to school and our teachers tell us that men and women are equals, and should be treated as such, no discrimination. But the second we exit that classroom, we are thrust into a world that culturally (again socially) does not support or reinforce this view at all. For the most part boys play with the boys, girls play with the girls (yes, by thier own volition). In every facet of life, we are reinforced that the 'equality' we are supposed to believe in does not exist. Those who have a sister or brother, are your parents expectations of your oposite sex sibling different that those for you? In most cases they will be. We hold females to different cultural standards than males. All the education will not remove this social conditioning in the vast majority of people. Imagine trying to change this. Look at how those who grow up in an abusive environment tend to become abusive themselves. Culture is hard to shake with just education, just saying "hitting is bad" and showing a film about it is not enough. This is not to say that abused people will become abusers. That is a blanket generalization with no merit. But statistics prove that alot of people who were abused at some point relapse back in that culture of violence, becasue they were never [i:3mvhhtem]socially[/i:3mvhhtem] educated to anything different. Some things cannot be learned from books or films. But those of us who can look at things in a (relatively) objective way in regards to social issues are [i:3mvhhtem]not[/i:3mvhhtem] the majority. We intellectualites are the tail attempting to wag the dog here. Most people will follow their culture, not thier intellectualism. Why do you think most people follow the religion of thier parents? It takes much strength to shake off the hands of where we have been socially driven. I believe that you are also correct in stating that the true 'power' lies with the working class, as Marx said it did. But this post is a beast already! Let me just adress that by saying that while the bag boy does have the power, he neither knows this, nor belives this, not [i:3mvhhtem]itellectually[/i:3mvhhtem] but [i:3mvhhtem]socailly[/i:3mvhhtem]. He has been indoctrinated by western culture, and he can read all the Marx he wants, but he can not and does not see how he can make a [i:3mvhhtem]social[/i:3mvhhtem] change. Not to mention he probably culturally identifies with the upperclass anyway, just as the working class did in 1831 when DeTocqueville wrote [i:3mvhhtem]Democracy in America[/i:3mvhhtem] about why democracy hadn't failed in the US as Marx had predicted it would. OK, i'm sorry this post is waaaaay too long, and its 1 AM. I look forward to your replies though. And i pre-apologize for my atrocious spelling, and for any typos i missed. view post

posted 07 Feb 2005, 16:02 by Annabel, Peralogue

Will and H, such a good discussion above! I submit a few historical examples for your consideration. I don't intend to be inflammatory but am just hoping to facilitate what is shaping up as a good debate in this board. Okay, so in the below examples, I think there is an argument that ongoing "education" (through books, propaganda, etc.) helped these movements to succeed. There is also a good argument that all the education, discussion and literature would have gotten these movements nowhere without the bravery and sacrifice of many individuals. If not culture, if not education, what motivated these folks? 1. The U.S. Civil Rights Movement. 2. The Indian independence movement (e.g., Mahatma Gandhi - an intellectual who DID manage to wag the dog). [I feel like Charlie Rose :wink: ]. view post

posted 07 Feb 2005, 17:02 by H, Auditor

I sincerly believe that people do not make the culture, the culture makes the people. Those like Ghandi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. do not rise out of nothing to make a change. Just like Einstein did not rise out of nothing and come to a theory of Relativity. These were people who, yes, through their intelligence and social abilities were about to exact a change. But really, they were just figureheads of the greater cultural movement. They were simply symbols of the culture that was changing. There was already an air of change about when Dr. King began preaching, or else how would he have ever been listened to in teh first place? People were ready to hear his message, his message was their message. The movement rose [i:3lxugkfn]him[/i:3lxugkfn] up, not the other way around as i see it. He was assassinated as we all know. Did the movement end? The movement was made by the millions in it, not by one man. Ghandi, like Dr. King, while an intellectual, did not preach for the need for intellectualism. He learned a great ammount from spending time in South Africa (and elsewhere), seeing with his own eyes the injustice, not from reading a book. His message was of understanding and openmindedness, not the neccessity for stoic intellectualism, or of universal knowledge. These two men spoke with the voice of millions. That is why their message was so compelling, so powerful. No [i:3lxugkfn]one[/i:3lxugkfn] wags the dog. They win over the dog's heart and mind, and [i:3lxugkfn]compell[/i:3lxugkfn] it to wag. The use of information is to justify and reinforce the social (cultural) view we want. Look at the creation of racial distinctions. For hundreds of years, the social (cultural) view that people were of distinct races was reinforced by 'science' of the day, in order the justify the cultural paradigm. Now, with the change in the social view of the issue, we now have tons of information about the incredable similarity of all humans. Appeal to the hearts, and the minds to win them all. Look at the Nazi movement in Germany. Take the [i:3lxugkfn]feeling[/i:3lxugkfn], reinforce it with [i:3lxugkfn]information[/i:3lxugkfn], justify it with [i:3lxugkfn]results[/i:3lxugkfn]. Additiionally history paints certain pictures of cultural change which are not neccessarily true. For example, salvery did not end becasue people sundenly realized that it was inhuman. [i:3lxugkfn]Uncle Tom's Cabin[/i:3lxugkfn] did not make people moral all of a sudden. They realized it was far too expensive to keep slaves and thier entire families, 24 hours a day. Clothe them, feed them, provide shelter for them, their children. People realized it was far cheaper to just pay workers a minimal wage and let them take care of themselves. After all, what are most workers, but slaves with the idea that they are free. Just like the grocery bagger who thinks he's free. Free from what though? He's free to hop from slave-master to slave-master, thats all in the hope that he'll ascend to the lofty heights of the rich. But the justice of the free market is not the issue here. Sure, it could be argued that it is the reverse. That the information exacted the social change, but i can't belive this at all. Even today, with the incredable ammount of information readily available, even faced with informational evidence, people choose to believe things which are not 'true' but are simply cultural perceptions. The social changes we reap are [i:3lxugkfn]related to[/i:3lxugkfn], but not [i:3lxugkfn]caused[/i:3lxugkfn] by, education. Books don't make people moral or ethical. Only experiance does. view post

posted 07 Feb 2005, 21:02 by Wil, Head Moderator

I have a limited amount of time, so I will respond shortly. Culture and people are entwined. You cannot have culture without people and you cannot have culture without people. Culture does not make people, and people do not make culture, they are dependent on each other to exist. One cannot exist without the other. Just because "information is readily available" does not mean that someone is educated on a subject. Yes, there is a lot of information available on the mating habits of weevils, but I have no education on the subject. I feel it is wrong to say that education has little effect on social change because a "look, the literature is there and nothing's changing" argument. It takes people to learn the information and process it to cause social change. I will add more later when I have time. view post

posted 17 Feb 2005, 16:02 by Echoex, Auditor

"Culture and people are entwined. You cannot have culture without people and you cannot have culture without people. Culture does not make people, and people do not make culture, they are dependent on each other to exist. One cannot exist without the other." I disagree with your statement. People create culture, and culture is typically manufactured from the excesses of society. Consider points in history that 'defined' their epochs. The sexual revolution, for example, wouldn't have happened during WWI or WWII, but it was seething below the surface, waiting for an opportune moment to explode. Why? Maslow might argue that people had the bottom of their pyramids to concern themselves with (basic human survival) and had no time for idle thoughts such as the equality of the sexes. Ergo, excess that has become culture. view post

posted 19 Feb 2005, 20:02 by H, Auditor

[quote="Echoex":za3b9twl]"Culture and people are entwined. You cannot have culture without people and you cannot have culture without people. Culture does not make people, and people do not make culture, they are dependent on each other to exist. One cannot exist without the other." I disagree with your statement. People create culture, and culture is typically manufactured from the excesses of society.[/quote:za3b9twl] Well i disagree with your critique. I belive Wil is corrrect in stating that "people and culture are entwined." Of cource they are entwined, i know of no people who exist without culture and no culture which exists without people. However, to fact that culture and people change each other, my point above was to say that great figures within cultural changes were "raised up" not solely through their [i:za3b9twl]own will[/i:za3b9twl], but by the will of the [i:za3b9twl]changing cluture[/i:za3b9twl]. But lets try to stay on track here. [quote="Wil":za3b9twl]Just because "information is readily available" does not mean that someone is educated on a subject. Yes, there is a lot of information available on the mating habits of weevils, but I have no education on the subject. I feel it is wrong to say that education has little effect on social change because a "look, the literature is there and nothing's changing" argument. It takes people to learn the information and process it to cause social change. [/quote:za3b9twl] This is very true. But lets realize that the mating habits of weevils and topics of social justice are two rather separate topics. So separate that i don't feel that either has anything to do with the other. One is useless information that will not be useful unless you are a.) a weevil, or b.) someone who encounters weevils on a common basis, or c.) someone who just really likes weevils. With regards to social justice, most of us encounter other people daily, in fact in large numbers. We all like to be social. We are all like humans (in some sort of way). Why then are we not interested in these issues? Since we do nothing but socialize with each other, shouldn't this be the most important topic for all people? But its not. Not at all. Why? Becasue culture already gave most of us the answers we were looking for. Unless we are questioning itellectualites, we are not going to probe further, we just listen to culture and go about our day, content that we have the answer, and with our minds lighted from the load of complex social issues. Again, i cannot think of any example where social change was brought about by an intellectual movement, and propigated by education. Again, the action of information in these movements was to [i:za3b9twl]justify[/i:za3b9twl] the social movement [i:za3b9twl]already[/i:za3b9twl] begun. But this arguement is silly unless we rigidly define what we mean by [i:za3b9twl]education[/i:za3b9twl]. If we loosely define education, one that encompasses all learning one could possibly undergo, than natually all behavior would be resultant from education. Your culture would be education, even classical conditioning would be education. I don't think this is what Annabel had in mind when begining this thread. My objective here has been to paint a picture which would show that [i:za3b9twl]institutionalized education[/i:za3b9twl] has a [i:za3b9twl]minimal[/i:za3b9twl] effect upon social behavior. If this was not true, then everyone who went to the same schools as me should be the same as me, which is absolutlely not true, both socially and intellectually. Sure, if we'd like to put [i:za3b9twl]all[/i:za3b9twl] learning under the term [i:za3b9twl]education[/i:za3b9twl], than yes, education is the most powerful factor in human existance. Let me ask this, if education played a [i:za3b9twl]major[/i:za3b9twl] role in changing culture, why is there still racism? We've all been educated about how races are false distinctions, and that all people are equal. We've all been educated that women are equal to men. We learned it in school, we hear it on TV, we read it in books. There's no more segregation, women have equal rights to men. So why is there still sexism, racism? Whats going on? Perhaps this institutional indoctrination is not working as well as we'd like it to? Perhaps thats becasue education does not [i:za3b9twl]effect[/i:za3b9twl] a social change, it [i:za3b9twl]reinforces[/i:za3b9twl] it. I can see how some will say, "yes, but i read a book, found out about an issue, and made an informed decision about something." And i say, you are the distinct minority. You are an intellectual. The intellectual is a separate case from what is discussed above. The intellectual [i:za3b9twl]questions[/i:za3b9twl], forms their own opinions [i:za3b9twl]consciously[/i:za3b9twl]. Most people do not do this with regards to social issues, at all. They simply follow what culture and biology (two completely non-conscious faculties) have set for them. To sum this all up, it is my point that social change is [i:za3b9twl]minimally[/i:za3b9twl] effected by institutional education. Information does not make people any more socially conscious. Only changing the culture makes (most) people better social creatures. As long as western culture is completely ethno-centric in it's view of other cultures, races, and sexes, we will not have a cure to social ills. I dont care how much education you give some one, if they are cultural told that women are not equal, they will never believe the opposite is true, even for a moment. As long as American culture is degrating to women, there will be sexism. As long as American culture continues to paint a distinction between 'black' and 'white' culture, there will be racism. Read all the books you like, but its culture which has the say in the lives of the vast majority of people, not abstract information. We intellecuals are the tail attempting to wag the dog. view post

posted 14 Feb 2006, 07:02 by unJon, Auditor

Education is always beneficial but will never be an ultimate, stand alone solution. Even educated people make heuristic based mistakes such as framing errors and unrealistic optimism. See the immense economic literature of Prospect Theory. Also, as long as people are self-interested there will be a need for regulation to prevent negative externalities. view post

posted 11 Mar 2006, 16:03 by Sokar, Auditor

I just schemed through long posts given, so I cannot say much on the contents of arguments given so far. It is, however, always interesting to point out that culture, in my view and that of some scholars I can't name (I never really care who writes, more of what is written) is a mere invention. In fact it is an invention from the West, which in return has ignited the further acceptance of the word. Culture is nothing more than value of traditions, fear of unaccustomed. The admired cultures of the past, such as the Ancient Greek for instance, did not even know what culture was, they did not have a term for such. They did not perceive themselves as being a culture. It is thus wrong, in my view, to separate culture from traditional value, it makes, in fact, no sense doing so. As it goes for education as a solution, I would agree. Though I do not see it as an ultime solution. There will only be a higher limit of hatered. To bring up an example: Soviet Union. During its existance there was no differentiation of "culture" between the states, as is opposite at this time. The Muslims of Azerbaijan were in no way different, nor did they feel different from Orthodox of Russia. True, religion played a very limited role, nontheless, the differentian was only on their practice of tradition, without any of them being superiour to the other. As we see now, there is a strong change in the ex-Soviet states, religion has become the division and personally I think this results from a change in education. A more vivid example: Nazi Germany. The education of superiourity had brought the hatred, whereas now, the European States limit their hatred through education. view post


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