Education is Liberation

Yep, I said it, and people aren't going to like it: learning makes you free.

Now, there are a lot of objections to this, and I understand them. In our capitalist society education, like everything else, has a price. Particularly with higher education, it happens to be a very hefty price that will leave you thousands of pounds in debt. There's also the objection that formal education (for example, going to school) either does nothing or actively turns you into an obedient drone. Those three are generally the main overt objections - there is a nastier and more covert one, but I'll discuss it later.

I'm going to let them pass. I'm going to accept them as true. Education up to 18, if not post-18, is mostly about "teaching" students to pass exams and be obedient, and even after having come out with a degree in something or other a lot of people are still incredibly stupid and ignorant. Not to mention paying for that degree will enslave you to your debt.

What I will say is that all those objections rely on the anti-intellectual assumption that all education is formal education - and that assumption, if you'll excuse my bad language (who am I kidding? I never ask for permission to swear), is bullshit. Education is not just sitting in a classroom or a lecture theatre, nor is it simply about doing repetitive exercises (though repetition is an excellent way to get something into your long-term memory, even if you don't understand what the hell you're trying to remember). Education is any form of learning - reading and researching for pleasure is an example - and it gets particularly interesting when you start learning about learning. As you've probably picked up by now, education isn't just cramming facts into your head or believing anything you hear indiscriminately, it's also about managing to separate reality from bullshit. This is something that they never taught you at school and that you've got to actively seek out for yourself - and even then, we all fuck up because the human brain isn't built for rationality. But once you've learned some critical thinking skills, they are probably some of the most useful things you'll ever pick up, since they enable you to figure out what's reliable and what's less so. That will free you from the clutches of people who bullshit for a living - politicians, corporations and agenda-pushers of all types.

This is the more covert reason people don't like education: uneducated people are far easier to brainwash and lie to, because they don't have the skills or knowledge. Educated people are far more likely to rebel against your teachings or to ask uncomfortable questions, and far less likely to go along with what you want. This is good for liberty, but bad for pushing agendas - and most people would rather push their agenda than help free people, even if they're not truly conscious of it. It takes a lot of thought to say that you'd rather educate someone into deciding for themselves than simply to chuck your pet ideology at them, and doing so separates the men from the mice.

I can't claim to have met and mixed with every single social group ever, but what I have figured out is this: a lot of people will dress themselves up as people who want to do something about the state of the world and make it a better place. So far, this is about as newsworthy in bears shitting in woods. It should also not be news to you that some of these people have less interest in making the world a better place and more interest in preaching propaganda. (If this is news to you, this is one of the most important things you'll ever learn and it will save you a lot of heartbreak.) And one of the ways you can tell is their attitude to propaganda and education. If they engage in debate, post links and think rather than just post propaganda, they probably care - but if they seem more like a propaganda outlet than a thinking, feeling person, run for the hills.