The Meaning of Education

By Christina Kim - September 22, 2015

I have recently attended a university Open Day; where the academics staff from the university are present for an open session to meet the interested applicants who are potential additions to their institution, sharing on information about the academic courses, the visions, facilities and the institution in general.

The professor hosting the briefing session on the overview of the courses offered by the university talked about the variety of their offerings and the competitiveness of their syllabus.
He further talked about the prospects of each of their courses and the advantages they have over other universities in their conventional marketing style; academically speaking.

He then posted a question, "Anyone here interested in Agriculture, or Agricultural Science?"

The room was silent, without anyone acknowledging the question, all for one loud snort from the front of the room, "Hmphhh".
The man seemed to realize that he was heard and meekly subdued himself as he continued to focus on the briefing, sliding himself comfortably to the side.
(He was already seated at the far end on the side of the room, so that wasn't much of an effort anyway).

If the professor had seemed taken aback by the response of this man, well, he did a pretty good job in concealing it as he continued to talk about the other topics which still revolves around the university, the courses and everything academic (obviously).

The rest of the room seemed unperturbed by that sudden interruption (or maybe some of them were, they just didn't show it).

I was not, on the contrary.

The whole thing, though seemingly brief, was more than a little baffling to me as to the way the man reacted to the question.
It was not even really all about the question itself, but as to that one word which popped up in the question that incited that kind of reaction.

It was as though that the word should not even have been uttered at all; shunned for eternity.
It is a taboo.

The word, Agriculture.

The man's reaction to the question seemed to suggest that it was absurd that the professor would pose this question and that he would even, think, as an academician, of the notion and prospects of anyone pursuing the field.
The field of agriculture.
It was a joke.
At least, to that man.

That man, was a parent.

He had came along with his son; a young adolescent who is hopeful about his future and pursuing his studies further as a continuation upon graduating from high school.
A bright and ambitious young man, who is about to embark on a brand new adventure out in the world, away from the high school walls that had surrounded him for more than a decade.
He probably had so many dreams that he wanted to pursue, and he had dreamt of making his own legacy in the world.
He, is the future generation, the next wave of succession to contribute to the nation and, the world.

His bright young mind may have been influenced by his peers, social media, the stories he had read, watched and learnt from young, but most of all, his very own role models at home.
His dad.

The man who had just laughed at the word, Agriculture, and that anyone would even think of pursuing Agriculture as a career.

It goes without saying that Agriculture is definitely not on the boy's mind.
It will Never, be on his mind or even that list of prospective fields to consider, let alone pursue.

It is not so much about the field of agriculture and the reaction towards the word that made me write this article to share my thoughts.

I am not trying to shame that parent or anyone who thinks the same way.

It is just about the way one would even have the thought of looking at the field, or any field, for that matter.
It is about that derived perception, or that false perception about stereotyping the fields out there.

Rather than thinking of "Why would anyone consider Agriculture?", switch to, "Why NOT?"

No, really, WHY NOT?

Why can't Agriculture be seen in a different light?
Is it that lowly perceived that it should never even cross one's mind?

What makes agriculture beneath fields like medicine, engineering, science, law, and all those that are often perceived as the highly educated (which usually translates to higher pay)?

Who creates that perception, and most of all, who creates that kind of standards?

Statistically speaking, agriculture makes up part of the world's economy in general, contributing 3% to the overall GDP. It may not seem like a big number, but we are looking at the world.
If that is not making you think, then consider not having breakfast tomorrow, or lunch and dinner, for that matter.

That is where our food comes from.
Plants; organic or not, and poultry are all part of agriculture.
Oh, even your clothes; the material used in the making of that shirt hanging on your body, that's agriculture too.

It is vitally crucial as any other field we are looking at; it should never be undermined for all it's worth.
My point is not merely about Agriculture in general, I am referring to any field, in that case, because we are looking at the broad perspective in the area of education.
(I will leave the topic of agriculture in another post, which I will discuss further on my thoughts on the topic).

The thought of a field, or any field being scoffed off in the name of academics is alarming to me.
It is just not right, because there should never be a restriction when it comes to learning.

Granted, we are talking about a very fast-paced and realistic world today; or materialistic and superficial to say the least.
It is a very judgmental world, and everything is about survival.

Everyone wants a good life, that is a given and nobody wants to go back to days when they have suffered or led a less desirable life compared to those they viewed as in the upper segment of the society.
It was, at least, perceived that way.

Perhaps this is what made the society adopt this perception, then, in this case.
That perception forced unto the succeeding generation on that conjured and imposed depiction of the ideals, based on the experiences from the forefathers.
Farming, mining, hard labor, construction, and the likes; where one needs to get down and dirty on the field are viewed as the less popular fields in the choices of career, particularly when one has been on the path of what is perceived as a good academic path (good grades and excellent results in general).
It is unheard of that one would actually opt to become a farmer or just to work as a laborer when they graduate from a top school and is ranked in the top elite performers in the school.

What created this stereotype, or was it not even a stereotype at all, in the first place?
It has always existed that way?
When did it start?

Why are there certain paths of career or professions favored over others?
What influenced our choices and what made us think unfavorably of some fields, over the rest?

It all boils down to us.

We created that, and it has just snowballed into that mass of mindsets floating all over the world these days.
It is a congregation all headed in the same direction (probably with only a very tiny bunch of exceptions).

The white collar versus the blue collar, and the white is always superior.

WE, created that perception.

If it has to start somewhere, then it has to be our predecessors and the nearest would be our parents.

They are our role models and the ones we receive our first level of education.
After all, it always begins from home, don't they?

Science (and nature) also dictates that we inherited our genes and intelligence from our parents, well, genetically speaking.
The early development and learning are all attributed to what our parents teach us from the day we were born.
They were our very first teachers and friends, in that context.
That is why a child always perceive his/her parents as the role models.

This is where the importance of the perception and even early conditioning of the minds begin.
Parenting implants the first ideals; the primary perspective of the world and how it is perceived.
It is where the child learns about the world.
A child will always look at the world through the same looking glass as his/her parents, first and foremost.

Tell the child that the world is one that is all white and they will believe you.
Tell the child that the world is very colorful and they will always think that there are more than the 12 colors in their box of color pencils out there in the world for them to discover.

Tell a child anything and they will always believe you.
It is that trust, and that biological bond they shared with you.

Psychology also shows that a child is always mimicking their parents and that it is only natural that they would always want to please their parents.
It is the way nature is designed.
A child, perceiving that their parents are their idols always model themselves after the images of their parents and would always seek their approvals in everything.
That is because, their parents are their world.
They see them as the superheroes, the most important people who gave them breath and are just towering over them.
Their words are gospel and their beliefs mould their very own beliefs.

Of course, school education and the mass media would come into the picture later, but the early conditioning comes from home.
It is about the nurturing that shapes the child's mind.

It is then this very way that a parent's perception could just seep into a child's mind and stick there, for as long as the child would want to live in the beliefs.

It is this part where the education begins.

Most importantly, are parents giving the right perception of education?

What does education really means?

Does it mean getting straight As, achieving good grades and coming out top in class/school?

Is it about having a bright future, joining the higher ranks of the white collars (and looking down on the blue collars), and having a fat paycheck (to afford big houses, cars and all those deemed as luxuries)?

Is it really about being at the top of the corporation, sitting at a desk on the top floors overlooking the city and making important decisions?

Is that the definition of education, or rather, good education?

That, is the perception or should I say, the false perception of education, because frankly, education is not equals to all that.
That is the perceived value and derived meaning of the context of education when the meaning of education is really simple.

It is not complex at all.

Education, is simply, to learn.

Learning and knowledge is what education is all about.

It is about information and with which gears us to navigate ourselves in life; making informed decisions based on what we have learnt and what we know.

It is about Learning.

There is nothing about making big bucks though it is always, associated to it.
It is not about making yourself the Big Guy and that all important person that the whole world bows down to, though, it is also somewhat associated to the consequential part of education (or perceived that way).

Learning had nothing to do with being important or being rich or being superior.

Learning is about equipping yourself with information; as much as you can fill yourselves with to make you rich, with knowledge.

Knowledge could, though not necessarily, lead you to great careers.

But what defines a great career?

Why do parents perceive the white collars as better careers or professions?
Why do we allow ourselves to believe that too?

It would only boil down to history; as I have earlier mentioned, our forefathers and all that ancestral background.
Well, really, it is not just our own ancestral lineage that affects that perception, but rather, a collective mass of population having gone through the same experiences and hence, formed the mass perception.

There was not really much of a choice in the earlier days where technology was obviously absent and faced with the vast lands of pastures and natural landscape, it was what most of our ancestors ended up doing.
Farming, fishing, mining, and pretty much dealing with most of the natural resources to make a living.
They were doing for their own survival and then there are also some due to the dominance of others who became their landlords; perhaps during the times of colonization.

Anyway, to cut the long story short, they toiled under the hot sun and in extremely harsh topological conditions. It was something they lived to remember.
Then they saw how their landlords came, strutting in nice suits and perhaps riding in big cars.
The landlords were their imagery of the ideal life.
It was that dream they had of the upper class population; to be like one of them, or at the very least, make sure that their future generations lived on that legacy.

It is perhaps a long line of ancient history, but it affected most of the perceptions; particularly among the Asians.
Well, that was partly because most of the Asian communities were the ones falling under the colonial forces back then; greatly attributed further to the rich soil we have in majority parts of the land on this side of the globe.

They lived to tell their children and this same exact story, or depiction of ideals were passed on for generations.

It is, as I have said, a carefully polished front for their descendants to view, and to remember.
It is the picture of perfection and that, is the life, that one should desire and work towards.

Every child is taught to believe in the power of education and that it can bring us far in our life.

Do well in school and you will do important things someday.
Don't do well, and you will end up doing nothing important; perhaps cleaning job or just fixing the drain.

It is something we have heard far too often; particularly in the Asian households.

It is this perception that All of us have been led to believe in the concept of education.
Education is painted as though it is merely a tool, a tool to live that ideal life.
That life, well-painted and varnished in rosy reds and where all dreams come true.

Is that truly what education is all about?

Are we just merely taking education the way we were led to believe?
Are we making choices for our own future, the way we were told or taught to believe?
Are those our own choices, or are we merely living in the shadows of our forefathers, for generations?

The purpose of education, is, to educate.

Perhaps our ancestors and all these images they have painted could be to blame.

However, the exposure to education should have taught us more than that.

Are we making informed choices?

Most importantly, are we making a Choice?

Ask a child, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

He/she will probably answer, "I want to be a doctor/engineer/lawyer (or some professional)" and you will see rounds of approval among the elderly family members (particularly the parents who are definitely beaming with pride)

If he/she answered, "I want to be farmer/artist/plumber", that will elicit a round of gasps and shocked expressions followed by attempts to rectify the situation by the elders.
They will then pay serious attention to the child's school and his/her grades and further spend time to inject that image of ideals in his/her little mind.

Thus the early brainwashing begins, and that will eventually lead to the child adopting that belief of the painted perception of what is actually ideal or deemed as perfect for themselves.

It is the same story we hear and see every generation.

When will it ever stop?

It should never be that way.

Perhaps it is to learn from the forefathers, in their attempt to protect and shield their future generations from discrimination and beneath others.
It is not wrong, but are we giving them a choice, or are we merely forcing them to believe what our forefathers want us to believe?

Are the children's desires to follow the paths to becoming a doctor, lawyer, engineer or whichever deemed ideal, their OWN, or their parents?

Their choice, or they are merely blinded in their pursuit of their parents' discontinued legacy?
Are they just living in their parents' shadows of approval?

Education is about knowledge, and gives you that choice.

We are educated about the world, and that gives us a lot of room to change that perception.

Ultimately, it is Our choice.
Not our parents.

We can blame them for planting that perception, but are we saying that decades of education taught us nothing?

I grew up in an Asian household myself, and I am blessed because my parents never forced unto me the beliefs that I needed to be someone important.
My parents told me that I could be whoever I wanted to be, as long as it is not harming the society or myself.
Practically apart from getting involved with drugs and abuse or anything illegal, I could do anything or be anyone I want to be.
No restrictions.
My parents brought me up to believe that I could do anything I want, and that it is what I myself want.
If I want to be a doctor, so be it.
If I want to jump on a ship and become a sailor, go ahead, by all means.

Of course, being typical Asian parents, they did tell me once in a while about the risks and dangers out there; furthermore, I was a girl and that meant I had to always be cautious in the world out there.
Aside from that, I am allowed to dream and I was even told that I should pursue my own dreams and that there is nothing that should be ever considered impossible.

I never thought I could not do anything.
My parents never stopped me from my dreams.

I am not saying that my own parents are the greatest role models, but I am blessed because my parents wanted me to live my own ideals.

The key is, we need to paint our own picture of ideals.

Education is all about that.

Education gives us that opportunity and that glimpse into the world, and the abundance of knowledge out there for us to soak in.

We learn about everything and we are free to do anything (as long as it's not illegal or harming anyone or anything else).

It is all about choices.

We pursue education because we want to be educated, not because we think that it is ideal and that it should be that way.

We want education because we know it will make us accessible to the world, knowing the way it works and that will lead us to our very own paths.

Granted, we are still always learning and there will never be an end to learning.

There should never be a forced perception about education.

There is never anything wrong about pursuing any field, at all, if it is within our interests.

That is the message we need to send across when we want our children or next generation to be educated.

I am not a parent, and I am not judging parents because I do know where they are coming from and about parents, they always want the best for their children.
That is just normal.

However, it is all about the concept of education.
The meaning of it all.
It should never be lost, because of certain perceptions.

There should never be any way to degrade any field in learning.

There is nothing beneath any other in the field of learning.

Education opens up one's mind, eyes and soul to the world out there.

It makes you think and understand, and realize that there is just so much more out there than that little cocoon we live in.

It is far more than just perception and living through the eyes of your parents.

You seek education, because you want to be educated.
You want to be knowledgeable.
You want to have more information.
You want to open your mind and be a better person.

That should be what education is all about.

So, never ever close the door for the world of education is all about possibilities.
The world out there is filled with vast opportunities and what-ifs.
Do not close the door too soon.

If you want to be a lawyer because you really want to, by all means go for it.
If you want to be a lawyer because your parents want you to, then you need to decide if YOU, really want it too.

To parents out there, you send your children to school and universities because you want a better future for them.
You want them to have the education you never had, or even much more than what you had.
You want them to be better people.
Help them to see through the magnifying glass and not just your own colored lenses of the world.
Show them the possibilities out there in the world.
Most of all, do not limit them.
There should never be boundaries in education.

It is then that you will learn, that it is all part of education.
That, is itself, education.

Agriculture is not unimportant (as the man earlier had scoffed at); nor is any other field.

Look at our plate every day; that is from agriculture.

The world is filled with many imaginations and wonderful choices; and it is diverse in its own ways.

We can't have everyone as doctors or working from top glass-covered buildings, because then it will not be the world we live in.
It will be dull and lifeless because everyone has nothing else to look forward to.

There needs to be diversity, and the perception that others could do those jobs that my children shouldn't go into, should be scrapped.

Give your child a choice.

Most importantly, give Education that chance to give them that choice.
To think and to discover.

Let them explore the endless probabilities and that diversity.

All in the name of education.

It is then that Education is truly meaningful.

*Author's Note: 
This is not a sponsored/promotional post, and solely based on author's personal opinions and preferences and do not represent the general public. 
Experiences vary from one individual to another.
You do not have to agree with me.

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