I REFER to the debate on the "educated uneducated" in the letters column, in particular to Ariff Shah R.K.'s letter, "The educated uneducated: The true meaning of education" (NST, June 11).
The modern-day education system has 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 fail to realise 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 when we leave the university and enter the working world.
The resolution lies in "liberal education". Such an education makes civil society possible and human relations reasonable.
Professor A.C. Grayling says: "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.
"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 our social background, culture, upbringing, and how our family raised and educated us. The two elements must concur to produce a good individual.
If a person is a graduate of Harvard University, but if he or she did not receive a humanistic upbringing or the family is a dysfunctional one, then it is not reasonable on our part to expect that individual to be a good soul.
We don't go to school to be good, rather we are there to harmonise and to cultivate the goodness that is already there within us prior to our first day in the school. Our first school or training ground is our homes. If we did not learn anything good in our "first school", "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. That crucial and critical role also belongs to our "first teachers" and they are no other than our parents.
Hence, if our "first teachers" are lazy, or ignorant, or apathetic, even the brightest and the most passionate teacher will have a hard time moulding a student. 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 begin 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 at home, those books, lectures and moral/ethical notes would be an exercise in futility.
Without a good upbringing, no school, government, non-govermental organisation or institution can save them and teach them how to become good individuals and they will never live a good life.
Therefore, it is an absolute element that 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.
By Jose Mario Dolor De Vega,Subang Jaya, Selangor