Has Sydney J. Harris gone out of the window instead?

By Klenam Ledi. Klenam, 22, is a student Kwame Nkrumah University in Kumasi, Ghana.

Please, who has the carpenter’s telephone number? I want to hire a carpenter to construct a twelve-foot, 75x75mm timber cupboard for me to keep my certificates: my basic education certificate, senior high school certificate, HND in accountancy, first degree in Business Administration, second degree in Law, short course in tropical agriculture (animal husbandry), Ghana Stock Exchange License, Computerize accounting, associate degree in computer science, DBS in marketing, Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), Charted Institute of Marketing (CIMG), and my postgraduate in supply chain management. I am currently pursuing my doctorate degree in psychology and I need more space for these certificates.

The purpose of education is a million-dollar question, especially concerning the significance of attaining education in general. It has been the subject of much ideological tussle throughout history and generated a lot of deliberation. There have been much speculation and proposed answers to this question from many different cultural, religious and ideological backgrounds. This is probably the main reason why the renowned American journalist, Sydney J. Harris, to add his quota asserts, “The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.” I believe this discussion will never be devoid of ‘loopholes’ even when ancient icons like King Solomon, Socrates, Aristotle, Rousseau, John Locke, Confucius and Plato reached finite consensus on this matter unless each of us demand answers to this question ourselves. It is not my intention to create confusion with this contribution to the ongoing debate, but to humbly give my explanation to this situation without deception but with affection. I believe my expressions on this subject will facilitate your comprehension and gives you connection to your true purpose of education.

What is the purpose of education? This is the most momentous question in the education revolution, and probably should be the most recrudesced question on examinations conducted by examining boards like West African Examination Council (WAEC). Education is an enlightening experience, geared towards developing fully one’s unique caliber to the apex through initiative. This enlightening experience never ceases, as one has to continuously explore more of one’s potential. Education, whether formal or informal, needs to enlighten one on the direction towards a particular goal by imparting the prerequisite knowledge and skills. Education brings light to capabilities that are already hidden in a person winking at the world in the darkness. Education is not only synonymous to basic arithmetic and literacy. A mirror is a reflecting surface capable of producing a replica image of whatever object is placed in front of it. Windows, on the other hand, provide an opportunity for people to see the outside world.

The raison d’être of education is to nurture the innate potential of people, develop the ability to think critically, and inculcate a sense of morality, poised towards living pragmatically in the society. Education enables one to exploit the pool of our inborn potential, which naturally exists inside each of us, whether utilized or not. Education, thus, does not only helps you identify and

latch onto the latent potential inside you, draws it out into this physical world but also provides fertile ground for you to establish the most inherent connection with the self and readies one to pounce on numerous opportunities offered by life; in effect, education creates deluxe life and the society a place of paradise. Furthermore, the function of education is to imbue one with the ability to think incisively and critically. Thinking perspicaciously for one’s self is very taxing; that’s probably why we are susceptible to letting our psychological life become raided by myriads of prejudices and half truths – all sort of propaganda. Education shapes our minds to be able to participate fully in social, political, financial and economical governance and be able to holistically and integrally understand the society and mirror us within it.

Notwithstanding, developing your potential and being able to think intensively is insufficient; education must provide moral and character enhancement too. History is replete with people with well-developed talents or potential: people who possess the best minds but end up in the dungeon on the ticket of lack of morality – they are destroyed because of a lack in sense of morality. We have seen them all; we have seen ‘talented’ criminals, top managers, chief system analysts, and celebrities, indulge in all kind unscrupulous acts. Haven’t we seen them all? An educated person without true sense of morality may become a liability to the society because education without morality regardless of the megacity in its totality is a fatality. What do we see today? Education that is supposed to provide moral development has become a breeding ground for all kinds of unprecedented vices. The ‘C’ in the formal educational structure, called the classroom behaviour, has brought about lots of menaces; excessive cheating, unworthy competition, petty corruption, ‘cannot’ beliefs and mindsets. Unfortunately, these same people grow up to anomalously commit social vices and grand corruptions at various top positions at the expense of the general society, costing us as a society at large. They found themselves in other ‘C’ places like the cabinet, churches, courts, chieftaincy, cabin, clinics, colleges, companies—–I mean the whole kit and caboodle (country) and keep on practicing that behaviour; after all, they are all ‘C’.

In conclusion, education enables one to scrutinize and weigh evidence, secern the veracity of matters, map a course for innate potential to bubble to the surface, and instill a sense of morality with an eye on society. Education of any kind that eschews society from the big picture is no true education, and no man is really educated when all his education is only on certificate and cannot demonstrate that true education, especially for the amelioration of the society. When we don’t know and define the true purpose of education, we will not only keep acquiring certificates upon certificates without satisfaction but also feel a void and emptiness within us even after acquiring all the certificates in the world. The best description of the purpose of education I can give without hesitation and exaggeration is implied in this; “The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.”

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