Modern Education and Civilization
timer Published Date:2nd Oct, 2020

What does it mean to be civilized? Civilization, as the etymological dictionary puts it, is an advanced and organized state of human social development. To put it in simple words, civilization is an up gradation from barbarism, where an individual is expected to abide by a set standard of rules and regulations and display socially accepted behavior. The term civilization, however, doesn’t carry the same meaning in all societies and cultures. Things and acts considered civilized in one part of the country may be viewed terribly offensive in some other part. Nevertheless, there are some universal norms and values of life, which are widely accepted as the marks of civilization in all the communities and across the cultures.

‘Education is the source of civilization’ as the saying goes. Education is believed to have been the sole factor for transforming the early barbaric societies into the civilized ones. However, whether or not modern education has civilized us today is an issue that can be fairly debated.

The unparallel contribution of modern education can not be negated. Today, the world has achieved a tremendous progress in the field of science and technology, and human civilization has reached at the peak of advancement.  The development of mass communication has cut across the geographical and cultural boundaries, and has turned the world into a global village.  Modernization has been a popular craze among all, no matter whether they are aristocrats or slum dwellers. All the advancement of this kind can solely be credited to the wonders of education. Despite this, the failure of modern education to give us the desired outcome has saddened us.

Education wasn’t within the reach of everyone in the past. Only a handful of the socially privileged class could afford to educate their children in the limitedly available urban schools or abroad. Villages grossly lacked schools and educational facilities. Societies were agricultural. Children in these typically agricultural societies grew up in joint families assisting their parents in their traditional family occupations, later inheriting the same as theirs. They were totally deprived of the light of education. Yet the societies were organized and smooth. Families were integrated and happy.  Irrespective of the differences in caste, creed and culture, people were bound by the feeling of humanity and brotherhood. They lived in peace and harmony, and resolved the occasional dispute and differences in a cordial manner. There was an atmosphere of trust since they had faith upon one another. They shared a common interest, which was the welfare of all the mankind. There was cooperation among people in societies.  ‘Live and let live’ was the guiding principle of life, and benevolence was given the utmost priority. Selfishness, treachery and deception were almost unheard of.

With the passage of time, there have been many changes in the education scenario. Unlike in the past, education has been recognized as a basic need, as essential as food, shelter and clothes, and has been established as a fundamental right of an individual. There has been an extensive awareness among people regarding its importance. Today, people, irrespective of what economic condition and circumstances they live in, don’t make any compromise with the education of their children. Even a rickshaw puller or a stone crusher sends his children to a private school. As a result, societies have undergone a huge transformation. They have been modern and advanced. There has been an upliftment in people’s standard of living, and quality of life has improved.

Despite these positive changes, modern education has massively failed in bringing about the holistic development in an individual. Societies have materially advanced, but the humanitarian aspect has suffered a huge setback. The philosophy of ‘live and let live’ has vanquished deep down into the dungeons of cold materialism. The ideology of benevolence has been replaced by the ‘me-first’ philosophy of life. We have been selfish and individualistic in nature.  We have lost the power of tolerance and developed an unrestricted aggression, which can be triggered even by the smallest of the acts of resentment.  

Honesty, righteousness and good conduct have been left far behind, and we have mastered the art of deception. As a result, modern educated societies have disintegrated and families torn apart. We witness the acts of violence, murder, rape, and treachery rampant everywhere. We have lost our faith upon one another, even on our close associates. The persistently growing family violence has left our children in the lurch, and has questioned their inheritance. Modern man has forgotten his duty even to his parents. He has left them in the old age homes and has run after material prosperity. Many elderly citizens, abandoned by their families, have been living a painful life in such welfare homes run by different people and organizations. We have been totally barbaric, but still call ourselves civilized. The term civilization has been widely misunderstood and misinterpreted. It is associated more with the flashy appearance of people. Dressing up with the latest fashion trends, going to disco, and partying together, among many others, have begun to be viewed as the signs of civilization. Modern human has forgotten the value of morality and character.

The desired outcome of education may vary according to time, place and context. However, some universal human values that education is expected to instill in humans are same everywhere and can’t be undermined. But sadly, this holy mission of education has been obliterated due to its commercialization. Modern educational institutions have turned out to be corporate houses trading certificates. They prepare students to achieve the best academic grades that qualify them to sell themselves in the job market, but pay very little or no attention to teaching human values or life skills. Value based education has been a far cry. As a result, today, we have enough of educational morons, morally sterile and spiritually barren but very few human beings.

 

Durga Gautam



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