Education does not consist so much in transmitting values ​​or culture as in transmitting doubt

Education does not consist so much in transmitting values ​​or culture as in transmitting doubt

There are a number of cliches that people repeat endlessly without wondering what they are saying in depth. One of them is that culture (and languages, by extension) must be preserved .

The other: that the great problems of the world are solved with greater education. The two clichés are closely related and lead to the same basic error.

Change your mind and adapt

It doesn’t matter how wise a thinker is. If he lived more than a century ago, he probably held ideas that seem morally disgusting to us (let’s not say since he brought scientific errors typical of an illiterate).

If education consists of transmitting values, then, no matter how high such values ​​are, perhaps we are only indoctrinating. Forcing students to think like us . To perpetuate ideas. To remove the magnifying glass of scrutiny and doubt from them.

However, if something should preserve education, it is not culture, language, or values, but rather doubt in the face of all those elements that seem untouchable, as Hans Rosling points out in his book Factulness :

It is reassuring to think that knowledge does not have an expiration date: that once you have learned something, it is always fresh and you do not have to learn it again. This is often the case in the realm of sciences such as mathematics and physics and in the arts. In those subjects, what we learned in school (2 + 2 = 4) is probably correct. However, in the social sciences, even the most basic knowledge expires very quickly. As with milk and vegetables, you have to always keep them fresh. Because everything changes.

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A society with values ​​is one that continually assesses which aspects of a culture’s norms are worth adhering to and which are already obsolete, not a monolithic and untouched society .

It is true that people are more uninhibited than before, that students are more shameless with teachers than before, that the rules in general are not followed with such inflexibility. But this precisely reveals that we live in a society with more values ​​than ever : before, these norms were not followed because people enlightened more values ​​but out of fear (both punitive and social). Not questioning the teacher because he will give you a blow in the hand (and who you will not be able to report for assault later) is not having more values.

Cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker explains it like this in his book The Angels We Carry Within :

Centuries ago, perhaps our ancestors had to suppress any sign of spontaneity and individuality in order to become civilized, but now that the norms of nonviolence are in place, we can give in a bit to specific inhibitions that may seem out of date. According to this line of argument, the fact that women teach a lot of meat or that men drop tacos in public is not a sign of cultural decline. On the contrary, it is a sign that they live in such a civilized society that they do not have to fear that, in response, they will be harassed or attacked.

For that reason, you have to doubt everything, and that and not others should be the guiding principle of education : that the student doubts even the educator. And that the educator encourages that habit in the student. And that even Aristotle is doubted, and the moral values ​​that we want to preserve at all costs, as you can see in the following video: