Virtue and Wisdom are the True Aim of Education

by Jose Mario Dolor De Vega

digital education in Vibe PNU

There is a grain of truth to our present malady namely, that our educational system has failed us!

The answer must be “yes” and this modern day education system has in fact, failed the whole world.

The world has built many colleges and universities, yet we have no peace because what we consider education is but an incomplete one.

We failed to realize that education is not a scheduled event, but a continuing process; that the quest to develop ourselves and to refine our character does not cease even if we left the four corners of the university and enter the competitiveness atmosphere of the workforce. The duty to excel and to polish our capacities and capabilities must not wane nor slow down. It must proceed!

What kind of education is needed?

My humble contention is a Liberal Education. It is my ardent belief that this is the type of education that makes civil society possible and human relations reasonable.

Please allow me to quote Professor A. C Grayling’s elaboration on the point:

“By ‘liberal education’ is meant education that includes literature, history and appreciation of the arts, and gives them equal weight with scientific and practical subjects. Education in these pursuits opens the possibility for us to live more reflectively and knowledgeably, especially about the range of human experience and sentiment, as it exist now and here, and in the past and elsewhere. That, in turn, makes us better understand the interests, needs and desires of others, so that we can treat them with respect and sympathy is returned, rendering it mutual, the result is that the gaps which can prompt friction between people, and even war in the end, come to be bridged or at least tolerated”.

I concur that education must be a blend of the external and internal in order to create true humanness in a student. External education alone cannot confer human values and benefit the world.

The external factor is what our educational institution hammered us to be, while the internal substance is how our social background, our culture, our upbringing, our family raised, reared and educated us. The two elements must concur to produce a good individual! Why? If one element is missing or one requisite is lacking, there is no point of talking of any foundation at all!

There is no plate in the template, it is a house of cards, because there is no foundation whatsoever to speak of!

It is my contention that, even if a person is a graduate of Harvard, yet he or she did not received a humanistic upbringing or the family is a dysfunctional one; then sad but true, it is idiotic on our part to expect the said individual to be a good soul.

We don’t come to school to be good, rather we are there to harmonize and to cultivate the goodness that is already there within us prior even to our very first day in the school. Prior to the school, our first ever school or training ground is our homes!

If we did not learn anything good in our ‘first school’, it is my firm position that the ‘second school’, the ‘third school’, etc. would all be useless.

The duty to make a student or a pupil good is not an exclusive role of the teacher; because in truth and in fact, that crucial and critical role is also incumbent and specially lodged to our ‘first teachers’ and they are no other than our mothers, fathers, our parents.

Hence, if our ‘first teachers’ are good for nothing or lazy or ignorant or apathetic; even the brightest and the most passionate teacher will have a hard time moulding a student which has no foundation of learning at all. The teacher may win and save some lost souls, but it would be definitely an uphill battle, a constant struggle.

The Greek philosopher Aristotle categorically stated in his book The Nicomachean Ethics that “ethics begins at the feet of your mother”. We learn ethics right from the beginning, from our family.

He gave us a strong warning that it was useless to teach ethics and morality to individuals who did not have a good upbringing.

No artificial means, like subjecting them to read voluminous moral tracts and discussing different ethical theories and lecturing to them on all the good values, would make them good persons.

They may appreciate it intellectually, but without a strong moral foundation inherited and imbibed at home; those books, lectures and moral/ethical notes would be worthless. It will be an exercise in futility.

Without a good upbringing, no school, no government, no NGO, no institution can save them and teach them how to become good individuals, and they will never live a good life.

These are the hard facts. Sad but true!

Therefore, it is an absolute element that in order for a person to become good, a moral, ethical and noble family life must always be present – at the beginning!

Hence, to squarely answer the question: What is the end of true education?

The true aim of education is virtue and wisdom!